Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) drivers Dane Cameron, Olivier Pla and Juan Pablo Montoya raced to a hard-fought third place finish in the 69th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday.
The podium performance came in just the second outing for the No. 60 MSR SiriusXM / AutoNation Acura ARX-05, with the race marking round two of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The Sebring outing provided the team with another opportunity to accelerate the learning curve after the two-time IMSA GTD championship-winning squad moved to the DPi ranks with Acura ahead of the 2021 season. But windy and unseasonably cool conditions on the notoriously tricky 3.74-mile track made for a moving target when it came to locking in the perfect setup through the 12 hour race.
After starting the race from fifth on the grid, the MSR effort raced within the top three for 167 of the 349 lap race and took the lead three times which included a run at the front as the race clock neared the eleven hour mark. Pitting from the lead on Lap 317 unfortunately resulted in a slow up during the driver exchange which cost the team valuable track position once returning to the course.
But strong team execution, strategy and stellar drives from the MSR lineup all factored into the result. Cameron made moves that reflected his family’s winning legacy at the track, including a decisive bid for third on the outside of turn one on the final restart. MSR endurance pilot Montoya regularly scythed through traffic to make up ground through each of his stints, as MSR returning racer Pla nabbed the fastest race lap of the day for the car.
The 12 hour day into night endurance challenge was slowed eight times for full course cautions, with the final safety car period setting up a final frantic 20 minute sprint to the finish. Cameron’s audacious move at the drop of the green proved to be critical as the team claimed the final podium spot with a third place result following 12 Hours and 349 laps.
Cameron and Pla will rejoin the MSR squad for the next round of IMSA competition at Meyer Shank Racing’s home track, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Acura Sports Car Challenge on May 16.
“The guys fought really hard today. The balance of the car wasn’t what we needed it to be, but Dane, Oli and Juan all managed it well and made the most out of their stints in the car. I’m impressed with what these guys were able to do today, especially with Sebring being such a difficult race on both the car and driver. It’s great to get our first podium of the season for Acura, AutoNation and SiriusXM and we’ll be aiming to be two spots higher as soon as we can.”
“It was an exciting finish and it’s always a shootout under the lights at Sebring. I had a good restart at the end and made up a position there. We were a little bit off on the balance all day and couldn’t quite get it right, so we were kind of hanging on. I think we got the most out of what we had in terms of pace. The crew did a really good job and made really good strategy calls. We made some good strides and will continue to improve on the balance, but it was nice to get a first podium here for Meyer Shank Racing in their return to Prototype.”
“The Meyer Shank Racing team did an amazing job all day. It’s a shame that we lost a couple seconds on the last driver change which cost us a position. When Dane got in the car, he was able make a good pass into turn one on the restart. We will take the podium and work hard towards the next race.”
Juan Pablo Montoya:
“It was a decent day with a good result. We had a chance at winning, but the last driver change wasn’t as good as it could have been, so it cost us a bit. There were a few glitches when it comes to working with a new car. We had a tough time figuring out the balance with the car and it was a handful at times, but we did the best we could and I’m happy to get a podium finish for Meyer Shank Racing.”
Source. Sunday Group