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GTWC America: Ashton Harrison secures Vice-Champion title with resilient P4 in Indy

"We battled all year long and took the championship down to the last race of the season" - Despite an unlucky final part of the season, Ashton Harrison secured the vice-champion title in the Pro class of GT World Challenge America after battling her way back up to fourth in an incident-filled 8 Hours of Indianapolis.


Ashton Harrison, Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo2, GT World Challenge America, 2023 8 Hours of Indianapolis
Photo credits: Acura Motorsport

Despite an unlucky final part of the season, Ashton Harrison secured the vice-champion title in the Pro class of GT World Challenge America after battling her way back up to fourth in an incident-filled 8 Hours of Indianapolis.

Entering the season finale and flagship event of the series in third in the championship standings, Ashton Harrison and Mario Farnbacher - joined for the event by Kyle Marcelli at the wheel of the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo - fought through adversities and collected a resilient fourth place that eventually resulted in second place in the championship, one year after they were crowned ProAm champions. At their first season in the Pro class, in fact, the Racers Edge Motorsports duo proved to be championship contenders and took the title fight until the final race of the season.

The 2023 season was off to a great start for Harrison and Farnbacher, who claimed a class win at their first race among the Pro entries at Sonoma. A further class - as well as overall win - arrived at Circuit of the Americas, where the duo also climbed the podium in race 1 with second in class. Two more podiums were added to their points tally at VIRginia International Raceway and Road America, as they remained solidly in contention for the overall title.


A very unfortunate round at Sebring - where a technical issue took them out of contention in the early stages - meant that the #93 Harrison Contracting Acura was on the back foot ahead of the 8 hour-race at the 2.4-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, albeit still mathematically in contention.

“We had a lot of highs this year, and some lows. Unfortunately for us, the lows appeared over these last two rounds", explained Harrison.


Weather conditions were changeable early in the weekend, with a wet practice where the trio nevertheless slotted into third place overall. In qualifying, Mario Farnbacher set the 15th time overall and, while the #93 Racers Edge Acura missed out on the top-ten pole shootout, fifth in class still represented a good starting position for the only endurance race on the GT World Challenge America's schedule.

Kyle Marcelli was the driver elected to take the start of the race on Saturday and, after a relatively clean start on the first lap throughout the field, Marcelli held fifth.

Only 10 minutes into the race, though, the first dramatic moment saw Vesko Kolarov hitting Marcelli's #93 Acura - who spun and rejoined, albeit all the way down the order. The #85 Porsche received a drive through penalty for the contact.


After the incident, Kyle Marcelli had really strong laps and managed to make up ground up to fourth in class and 11th overall after one hour of racing.

Most of the teams pitted at the one hour mark and Ashton Harrison took over from Marcelli, retaining fourth in class and 12th overall.

Ashton Harrison, Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo2, GT World Challenge America, 2023 8 Hours of Indianapolis
Photo credits: Acura Motorsport

Harrison had great battles in the midfield, as she defended from the #38 ST Racing BMW while she also had to navigate traffic of both some lapped traffic as well as the overall leaders. Harrison did a great job and had good pace in a rather action-packed second hour as she also traded positions with Matteo Cairoli.

Unfortunately, another contact with the #85 Porsche this time cost a drive through for the #93 Racers Edge Acura: Harrison and Jake Pedersen came together at turn 2 and, while both rejoined, Ashton had again dropped down the overall order and had picked up some damage.


Back in 18th overall, Ashton attempted to catch back up the pack with still over six hours to go. She survived more battles with both Pro and ProAm entries and settled on a rather competitive pace. At the three hour mark, Mario Farnbacher jumped aboard the #93 Acura and continued the recovery drive, although the NSX GT3 Evo was wounded from the earlier collisions.

"Our Racers Edge Acura has been really strong all day, but we’ve been on the back foot since we were spun out at the beginning of the race", Ashton commented midway through the race. "So, we’re doing our best, and have been all day, and I’m so proud of this Racers Edge team, my co-drivers Mario and Kyle, and Acura. We battled all year long and took the championship down to the last race of the season. That’s really about all you can ask.”

With temperature dropping, so did the lap times: once behind the wheel for his second stint, Kyle Marcelli ran steadily upwards and made progress for Racers Edge Motorsports, retaining fifth in class. Incredibly, the #93 Acura and the #85 Porsche made contact one more time on lap 198. Kozarov was deemed at fault and received a 60 second penalty at the next stop. After a pit stop, Mario Farnbacher emerged behind the wheel, 18th overall.


Although they weren’t able to contend for the overall win, the drivers and crew kept pushing hard to maximise the result: Farnbacher picked up a few positions and fought until the very end, when some competitors hit trouble in the final hour.

After a testing race, the team crossed the finish line in fourth place among the Pro entries - in a strong effort that still rewarded the team with second in the championship by just two points.


“It was a pleasure to share the Harrison Contracting Acura NSX with Mario again all year and to have Kyle Marcelli as our 3rd driver for the Indy 8-Hour", Ashton Harrison said after a tough contest. "That was an exhausting race; just a lot of unlucky issues for us, but as always, the Racers Edge Motorsports crew pushed through, and we kept our heads down and came out 2nd in the Pro Championship and 4th in the race itself."


"We’ll continue to celebrate the high moments of the season and the hard work of the crew. The Acura NSX has been a great platform and I really appreciate all of the support from Honda/HPD Racing and Harrison Contracting.”


Harrison's second year in GT World Challenge America - which she combined with a partial campaign in IMSA - has been again a very positive one and, although she expected a different outcome, the vice-champion title is something she can be proud of, as she is already working on her 2024 racing plans.


Ashton Harrison, Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo2, GT World Challenge America, 2023 8 Hours of Indianapolis
Photo credits: Acura Motorsport

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