If you ask Alex Riberas, the No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 R he shares with Mario Farnbacher had the pace to secure the GT Daytona pole for this weekend’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.
Unfortunately, an untimely mechanical gremlin took the shot at starting from the front away from Riberas and Farnbacher.
During just his second lap of Friday evening’s qualifying for the GTD class, Farnbacher faced a gearbox issue that led to the German driver qualifying the car 11th among the 13 GTD cars.
Farnbacher, along with co-driver Ian James, took the No. 23 Porsche to victory lane in the Motor City last year, but the poor qualifying result won’t aid in the hunt for a repeat triumph this year.
Race day on Belle Isle for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship began with a 30-minute morning warm-up session, out of which the No. 23 crew extracted a bit of optimism.
“The car felt extremely good,” Alex Riberas told The Apex after the warm-up outing. “Obviously the guys checked everything out after qualifying yesterday. We had this gearbox issue and we just made sure that everything was in the right place for today’s race.
“Obviously in the warm-up you don’t push to the limit because it’s all about feeling the car and making sure everything works fine and I have to say it was the best feeling I have had in the weekend so far so I think we are ready for the race.”
Without the gearbox acting up, Spanish driver Riberas is confident the win today wouldn’t be so far out of reach for the No. 23 Porsche.
“I feel like we had the pace to be on pole,” he said. “Mario had the gearbox issue after two laps so we couldn’t do any proper laps so that’s why we’re starting [11th].
“It’s going to be a tough challenge to go through the field this year as the entire grid is extremely competitive, but I feel like we are strong enough to do it.”
New Porsche Plays Nice With Bumpy Circuit
The Porsche 911 GT3 R marks just one example of all-new machinery in the new-look GT Daytona class this year, and Riberas says it feels good on the bumpy Belle Isle track.
“The guys from Porsche and The Heart of Racing did fantastic work with the dampener settings to adapt the car to the racetrack, to make sure the car is absorbing the bumps and is comfortable to drive,” Riberas said.
“They told me this track is extremely bumpy and I should be careful and all that, but after two laps I was already on pace because the car felt so good.”
The 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic will go green at 12:40 p.m. EDT on Saturday.