After 13 years in Prototype competition, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian took on an entirely new project in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Ohio-based team transitioned to a two-car effort with the brand new Acura NSX GT3 platform in the GTD class.
Starting with a car that had already been homologated before the team took delivery, Michael Shank Racing delivered in a big way – despite it being a development year for the program. Team owner Mike Shank assembled some of the best in the business – bringing on seven new crew members and a mix of drivers with backgrounds that included Le Mans victories, extensive Prototype experience, and decades of test driving experience.
Andy Lally and Katherine Legge were named full-season drivers of the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 with Mark Wilkins added for the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) rounds and Graham Rahal for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Longtime Michael Shank Racing driver Ozz Negri was paired up with Jeff Segal for the year in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 with Tom Dyer added for the NAEC rounds and Ryan-Hunter Reay for the Rolex 24. The No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 captured two victories (Detroit & the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen) – which included the very first win for the Acura NSX GT3 at Detroit in just its fifth race outing – and four podium results. The organization also scored the pole position at the Glen.
Between the two Acura NSX GT3 machines, the cars led 515 laps during the season and completed 12,439 miles of racing. In fact, Mike Shank was presented the VP Fuels Front Runner Award at the IMSA Night of Champions, given to the team with the most lap-leading efforts.
“I just want to say thank you to Acura, Honda, and HPD for all the work they’ve done this year with four podiums, two wins and a pole,” said team owner Mike Shank. “All eight of our drivers always gave 100% and my crew guys – some of who have been with me for over 10 years – always over delivered. Winning the very first race worldwide for the Acura NSX GT3 was a huge accomplishment for us as a team and to do that in just our fifth race out was pretty incredible.”
The team opened the year strongly at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with both Acura NSX GT3s running at the front of the GTD field – the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 for 97 laps, and the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 for 74 laps. Though the No. 93 was forced to retire 20 minutes prior to the checkered flag, the No. 86 took fifth in the event and won the first round of the NAEC championship.
As the 12-race championship closed out the year at the Petit Le Mans, both cars were in contention to win the North American Endurance Cup title and the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 team was in contention for a top-three championship finish. Though the Petit Le Mans didn’t yield the results the team had hoped for, the Michael Shank Racing organization ended the season with much to be proud of.
The No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 team finished fifth in the GTD championship standings, while the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 team placed 10th. Of nine different manufacturers, Acura was fourth in the end of year standings.
The No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 was third in the NAEC standings, while the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 was fourth.
Acura finished second in the NAEC standings, missing the title by a mere five points.
With a brand new car in a class new to the team, Michael Shank Racing delivered some considerable achievements in its debut year and looks for even more success in 2018.
Source. Sunday Group