Reigning Fanatec GT World Challenge Pro-Am champions Ashton Harrison and Mario Farnbacher finished third on their Pro debut after starting deep in the field from Sonoma Raceway.
A disappointing qualifying result caused by a red flag and a battle for track position with another car left the team toward the rear of the grid, but the group’s race pace was an encouraging sign early in the season for Harrison.
“It’s unfortunate — we had to start 14th overall and last in Pro,” Harrison said of the qualifying. “Before I came into pitlane we were up to sixth or seventh overall and we had made up all of those positions we had lost so I feel good about that. I think that third place is something to be proud of based on how the race started, but we’re starting on the pole tomorrow, so we hope to end there.”
With really only one true straightway and a significant amount of high-speed, aero-dependent corners at Sonoma, multiple drivers complained of dirty air. Had the team started closer to the front of the grid, Harrison believes it could’ve made even more progress up the order.
“I didn’t even get to qualify so it doesn’t show what we’re capable of doing. It was a little bit of a heartbreaker because it’s like, ‘Dang, this sucks, we should be up front,’ and our pace in practice was a top-two so it hurts a little bit. At the same time, I like the motivation to feel like, ‘Okay, well this happened to us so we’re going to show how we can turn it around,’” Harrison said.
The team certainly has the pace to compete, as Farnbacher showed by qualifying on the pole for race two in the uninterrupted and clean qualifying session he had earlier in the day.