The annual ‘Roar Before the 24’ test days took place at Daytona International Speedway over the weekend as Michael Shank Racing logged laps at the World Center of Racing in preparation for the 55th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the end of the month.
The test was all the more important for the Ohio-based team as the group’s two brand-new Acura NSX GT3 machines took their first official laps around the circuit following testing at Daytona in November and December. The Roar allowed for a wide-range of data gathering throughout the weekend as Friday featured warm and sunny weather conditions, with rain on Saturday, followed by cold temperatures and windy conditions on Sunday.
Taking advantage of the countless hours of preparation that went into preparing the new machine for GTD competition, both Acura machines logged plenty of laps with all eight Rolex 24 drivers on hand for the test. The team made demonstrable gains throughout the weekend as it worked to gather valuable data on the new car.
The No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 of Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, Mark Wilkins, and Graham Rahal ran 210 laps with a fast time of 1:47.929-seconds.
“When you show up with a new manufacturer to GT3 that has never run in this class before, in a completely new car, there is always going to be a lot of work to do, especially in a class that is this competitive,” said Lally. “Having the patience to go through the process, I’ve done this on a handful of occasions before. It’s a tough process but you’re working with some of the top engineers on the planet coming from Acura and HPD combining with some powerful superstar engineers and mechanics at Michael Shank Racing and trying to come up with a solution for the best way to make this car go fast. Last night, we clicked on something. It’s been a slow and steady process. Last night we made a couple of tuning adjustments that I was happy with. There will be days where it’s one step forward, two steps back but what I’ve been pleasantly surprised with is that there have been many more steps forward here than there has been back.”
Meanwhile the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 of Ozz Negri, Jeff Segal, Tom Dyer and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed 176 laps with a fast time of 1:48.131-seconds.
“It’s been a very productive test,” said Segal. “We’re still in a pretty steep part of the learning curve with these cars. Every time we run them, it’s with substantial differences from the time before – be it set up or engine mapping or what have you – and each time we’re making progress. We’ve gathered a tremendous amount of data. We’ve made some improvements to the car, but we still have some questions. We still have some performance to find because we won’t be happy until we’re at the top of the charts but we’re getting there and I think we are well positioned for the race.”
Team Owner Mike Shank was pleased with the team’s progress over the course of the annual Roar event.
“There is a tremendous amount of effort that goes into starting a brand new program in this very competitive GTD class with a brand new car, and we were able to get a lot of work done this weekend,” said Shank. “The streak that we’ve been on for the last four tests, it just keeps getting better and better. Top to bottom – drivability, handling, the crew, how we do things, it all just keeps improving. Our cars are pretty balanced, we could race them today if we had to. We’ll see what the next week brings as far as BOP (Balance of Performance) and we’ll go from there.”
The Michael Shank Racing group will head back to its shop in Pataskala, Ohio to prepare the cars for the Rolex 24 At Daytona which is set to go green on January 28 at 2:30 PM ET
Source. Sunday Group