After months of planning and preparation, completing 750 laps using nearly 1,350 gallons of fuel, and making 52 well-executed pit stops, Michael Shank Racing returned to the podium at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
The result of the twice around the clock endurance classic was a sweet one as the team scored a hard-fought second place GTD class finish on Sunday. The team added to the celebrations by winning Round 1 of the IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) Championship for its strong performance all race long.
The team that has racked up three overall podiums and one big win in 2012 at the Rolex 24 in Prototype competition added a GT podium result to that record, building on the success that the team earned last season with the Acura NSX GT3 platform.
The No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 piloted by Lawson Aschenbach, Justin Marks, Mario Farnbacher and Côme Ledogar and the team’s sister car, the No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 driven by Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente, Trent Hindman and AJ Allmendinger clocked in 24 hours of jam packed action in the 21 car GTD field.
The No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 proved that it was a frontrunner from the very start as it stuck to the bumpers of the top three GTD cars. Legge led the first official laps for the team as the clock struck 12:45am and Allmendinger continued his streak of leading every single Rolex 24 that he has competed in by leading the GTD field for an impressive 25 laps during the overnight hours.
It was an outright battle until the very end of the race with Parente closing out driving duties in the No. 83 machine. After 750 laps of nonstop racing that included a stellar triple stint performed by long time MSR ace AJ Allmendinger, the No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 machine took the checkered flag second in the GTD order.
“I am beyond proud of those guys for getting on the podium,” said team owner, Mike Shank. “The 86-car was fast all weekend and the drivers really worked together well and that combination showed just what they were capable of. They stayed in the front the entire race and had great strategy and it paid off in the end. I can’t explain how proud I am of everyone for their effort to pull this off.”
The No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 had a strong run until a cooling hose in the gearbox came loose just past the seven hour mark, forcing the car to go back to the garage for repair. The team used that time to strategically make a brake change which was planned for later in the event. In an incredible 13 minute turn-around, the team was back out in the mix of competition. Despite being down several laps, the drivers of the 93-car recovered valuable positions, bringing the car back up to an 11th place finish.
“The guys on the 93-car really worked their butts off all race,” said Shank. “I’m disappointed that we had the cooling hose come loose and had to go in the garage; that really put us behind. But these guys never gave up and I can’t ask for much more from them. It was an all-around team effort this weekend.”
The Michael Shank Racing crew will return to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition at Sebring International Raceway on March 14th – 17th.
Katherine Legge No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “My first double stint was really good, my second was average. We were also double stinting tires, just trying to get through the night. My last stint was really good, apart from the incident with the prototype. I don’t think we had the straight line speed to fight with those guys so what we achieved was like a victory. I’m happy to be on the podium but gutted not to have won. I’m proud of the whole team and all of the drivers – it’s been a very long 24 hours.”
Alvaro Parente No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “This feels great, especially since we had such a difficult race. We knew we were lacking a bit of straight line speed, so it feels even better. Congratulations to the engineers, to Ryan (McCarthy), to Mike (Shank), to Vince (Forges) and the boys that were on it all the time. They were confident the whole way.”
Trent Hindman No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “The race was really the first time that I got a significant stint in the car and it was sure an awakening for me. I knew the car was going to be hooked up, the Michael Shank Racing guys always do a great job with giving us a fantastic car. Ryan (McCarthy) has been working hard along with our crew guys who have been working to give us the best Acura NSX GT3 that they can. There weren’t many surprises towards the end, we were just chasing track conditions. It has been changing so much between dry to wet to dry and then cloud cover and sun; it’s was hard to keep track of.”
AJ Allmendinger No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “This might be the most tired I’ve ever been. It probably was not a wise call on my part not to run an air hose to my helmet. But this Acura NSX GT3 has been fun to drive. I love Michael Shank and I love this race team. The spotters especially, (Mike) Sweeney and Ben (Waddell), it was a team effort. That last stint, I was starting to get the chills inside the car. But this is what the Rolex 24 is all about: the last four hours you give everything you’ve got. I think the car got damaged when Katherine got shoved off – not a lot, but just enough to lose a little bit of downforce. She wheeled the hell out of the race car all night. Alvaro (Parente) and Trent (Hindman) have been so good, we’re still in it, we’ll see what we’ve got.”
Lawson Aschenbach No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “All in all, I’m happy to get through the event, and I’m happy for my teammates. I’m especially happy for Acura and Michael Shank, they deserve it. Everyone at the team, at Honda Racing and at HPD has put so much into this car so to get a podium at one of the hardest races in the world is a feat. We got 11thh, which is something we can build on for Sebring. I’ve already told my engineer to expect a laundry list! But that’s good – it’s a new car, a new driver and a new team, and we’re going to have to gel together. We had a front running car so that makes me confident ahead of Sebring.”
Justin Marks No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “I’m really proud of this team. They worked hard to get this Acura NSX running well and I think we had a shot at a podium. We had an issue with the gearbox, but we diagnosed it pretty quickly when we got it to the garage and minimized the lost time – I think we were only off track for about 20 minutes. It’s been smooth sailing ever since, but the class is so competitive that it’s hard to make up time. Everyone worked so hard, I know this is the start of a successful year.”
Mario Farnbacher No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “It’s been great with the team this weekend. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. We had a good start, making the decision to switch to dry tires pretty quickly (after the early evening rain shower) which was a good thing. It was tough, doing a triple stint. It’s really hard competition out there, everyone is really close together and no one will give you any space. You fight for every millimeter on the track.”
Côme Ledogar No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “The first part of the race was quite nice. We were on the lead lap not far away from the front, but we had some technical issues that put us nine laps down. We made back some laps but it’s an endurance race, so you have to stay alive. In the end, it’s not just the fastest car that wins, it’s the car that stays out most of the time. But this is one of the best teams I’ve ever driven with.”
Source. Sunday Group