Ashton Harrison and Racer’s Edge with WTR had planned a Michelin Endurance Cup-only campaign with the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22, so it was a bit of a surprise to see Harrison partnered with Mario Farnbacher for the first sprint round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. But with Acura’s sponsorship of the event, the entry wasn’t entirely unexpected, either.
The second Acura entry in GTD, joining Sheena Monk and Katherine Legge in Gradient Racing’s No. 66 NSX, will celebrate the release of the second season of “Chiaki’s Journey,” Acura’s anime series celebrating the Type S line. The car carries a livery designed to emulate the anime style of illustration. At last year’s Long Beach race, Farnbacher and Marc Miller raced Gradient’s NSX entry that marked the initial release of “Chiaki’s Journey” to a second-place finish.
“With ‘Chiaki’s Journey’ season two coming out, I think it was important for Acura, especially at their home track at Long Beach,” Harrison said. “Mario and Marc Miller did ‘Chiaki’s Journey’ last year, and now Mario and I are representing and it’s exciting. I think that when the partnership came available, we’d started talking about it, and I’ve never been to Long Beach. I think it’s important that they had as many Acuras on track as possible, and we were available and even though it wasn’t on our schedule originally, when the topic came up, we were like, ‘Yes! We want to do it.’ And to do it with Mario is exciting. I’m excited for the livery, I think it looks so good.”
While Harrison hasn’t raced at Long Beach, she raced some street circuits in Mazda MX-5 Cup. Farnbacher, however, has raced the Long Beach street circuit numerous times. His advice for Harrison?
“Respect the walls. Obviously it’s a street circuit so it’s a really small margin of error. But it’s a nice challenge, in my opinion,” he said.. I think it’s also a very good perspective for her side to to see the less respectful tracks. So I think it’s good for her to grow, to get experience with street circuits. And it’s always great to be here. It’s a cool track — I love street circuits.”
While racing at Long Beach will be a new experience for Harrison, she saw last year’s race from a different perspective, sitting on the Wayne Taylor Racing timing stand.
“I feel like I’ve been almost over studying,” she said. “So I’m excited to get on track and get to see it behind the wheel of our car. I did get to do some laps, in the street car for last week at the media day, so I have gotten a feel for it and I’m excited to see it in action, especially sharing the track with all of our other competitors and the GTP cars. I was here last year with Wayne Taylor Racing and their 10 car program, so I got to see a little bit from their side and their point of view. And now getting to actually participate myself is is different. I learned so much being with the 10 car up on the stand with Ricky and Filipe, but now it’s my turn.”
Harrison and the rest of the WeatherTech Championship drivers have two practice sessions to get up to speed before qualifying commences at 5:15pm Pacific time.