Michael Shank Racing was back on the IMSA WeatherTech podium for the third consecutive race when the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 of Andy Lally and Katherine Legge took a runner-up finish in the Mobil 1 Sports Car Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday. The result follows up back-to-back victories for the driving duo at Detroit and Watkins Glen.
The event marked Round 7 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and was one of the most challenging yet as the Canadian weather brought a mix of dry and rainy track conditions during the 2 hour & 40 minute race.
The hard-fought runner-up finish saw the team and drivers score valuable points in the GTD championship as the organization made up ground on the championship leaders.
After starting sixth, Legge opened the race and immediately moved up to run among the top-five. She was running third in line when the team brought the No. 93 machine to pit lane for fuel, tires and a driver change with about 48 minutes completed.
When Lally returned to the track, he put his years of GT experience to good use at the 2.459-mile high speed circuit to run in podium contention. Following the team’s final pit stop with just over an hour remaining, it looked like it would be a straightforward run to the finish.
But when rain began falling on only certain parts of the circuit, conditions became quite tricky.
The team made the call to remain on the Continental Tire slick tires and that ended up being the right one as a dry line began to form in the final stages of the race. Fortunately, Michael Shank Racing endurance driver Mark Wilkins, who calls Toronto home, had joined the team in the pit box and used his home track knowledge to the team’s advantage.
“Mark (Wilkins) knows this track better than any track that we race on so when he looked at his radar I yelled at him to tell us what to do,” said Team Owner Mike Shank, who calls strategy for the No. 93. “He was dead right so we have to thank Mark Wilkins for that call.”
The race ultimately ended under caution when a full course yellow was displayed with five minutes to go, and Lally took second at the checkered flag.
While Shank was happy with the second place result, he was even more proud of the work his team put in all weekend long.
“It was a great day,” said Shank. “Really what made the difference in that race was the final pit stop and the in and out laps. They were phenomenal – we passed everyone in the pit lane. We just had fantastic pit stops and I can’t ask any more from our guys from that. We’re really pleased.”
Unfortunately, while the mixed weather conditions worked in favor of the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3, the day was a tough one for the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 of Jeff Segal and Ozz Negri which ran in podium contention for much of the race, but had to settle for a 10th place result after suffering some bad racing luck with traffic.
Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will return to Lime Rock Park for the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in two weeks which will see only the GTD and GTLM classes in action. It marks the first trip back to the Connecticut track since 2013 when the team finished runner-up in the Daytona Prototype category with Gustavo Yacaman and the late Justin Wilson.
Andy Lally, No. 93 Acura NSX GT3: “We were going for something that is rare in GT3 racing – three in a row – so to have two wins and a second, if you had told me that five weeks ago I’d have said “done deal,” but I found myself in the closing laps really digging. I hand it to Stevenson Motorsports (GTD winner) they did a really great job. Lawson (Aschenbach) did a great job closing. Our Acura handled every condition today from hot and greasy to cool to wet to super slippery conditions that nobody wanted to be in out there on slicks. I’m just thrilled. The Michael Shank Racing crew did a great job, our Acura performed flawlessly three races in a row. Nobody has scored more points than we have in the last three races. It’s a good thing when you’re disappointed with second. It’s good that we’ve risen to that level. The Acura is there, and we want to win at every track we go to. We gained in the championship on everybody in front of us and that’s a good place to be mid-season.”
Katherine Legge, No. 93 Acura NSX GT3: “It’s nice to win, but second is definitely good points. We’re all really happy. It’s all thanks to the Michael Shank Racing crew on our pit stops and Andy (Lally) did some fantastic driving in some really, really difficult conditions at the end there. I’m just really proud of everyone on the team.”
Ozz Negri, No. 86 Acura NSX GT3: “We were on a different strategy and it was working and then we had the yellow which made threw everything out of the window. When the rain came, we lost out on some track position but once it dried out we were fighting to be back in the game. It is tough to not finish further ahead, but we will keep on trying.”
Jeff Segal, No. 86 Acura NSX GT3: “We had a pretty strong weekend and we were happy to qualify well yesterday. The beginning of the race I think we seemed to be pretty good but unfortunately it just wasn’t our day today. We’ll keep working at it and come back stronger at Lime Rock. Congratulations to Katherine (Legge) and Andy (Lally) on their podium finish. We’re hoping to join them there at Lime Rock.”
Source/ Sunday Group