Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) was looking primed for a second victory at the Motul Petit Le Mans on Saturday, but just as things were looking up it came to a sudden halt when the No. 60 Acura headed back to the garage with damage to the floor board with just 45-minutes remaining. Although a quick diagnosis cleared the Acura to finish the race, the team’s chances of a podium finish were eliminated as the car crossed the finish line sixth.
After a promising season back in the Prototype ranks, MSR was looking to finish the year on a high note with Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves combining for the IMSA WeatherTech season finale. Starting from fifth Cameron, battled through lots of carnage in the early hours.
Castroneves brought the MSR Acura to the lead for the first time on lap 205. The next driver exchange put Montoya behind the wheel as the Colombian racer regained the lead on Lap 205 and didn’t look back for 31 laps.
Once Cameron got back in the Acura, he made a 26 lap stint in the overall lead and eventually pulled an eight second gap to the second place running car.
Despite running 112 laps in the lead, MSR saw problems with just 45-minutes remaining as Castroneves ran over debris and reported damage to the underside of the Acura. After a quick check in pit lane, Castroneves was forced back to the garage for the crew to further assess. After fixing the damage the team released Castroneves back on track just five minutes later. But unfortunately reentering the track nearly 10 laps down, the team was focused on finishing the final race of the season.
Castroneves ultimately brought home the No. 60 Acura sixth.
Meyer Shank Racing Team Quotes:
Mike Shank: “It’s definitely not how we wanted to end the season. We had such a strong pace all race long and we were competitive up front. Unfortunately the damage at the end put us back. We still have to look a little further into what exactly caused the damage and the extent of the damage. But I have to give it up to Dane, Juan and Helio who really raced their asses off today and to the crew who had some really good pit stops. We will start working on 2022 tomorrow.”
Dane Cameron: “It was a pretty wild day, typical in some ways for Petit Le Mans, especially with this many cars. A record number of entries, so there was a ton of traffic. I think we all had an off-course excursion at some point. Ultimately, it was a disappointing day, to have some debris damage the result, but I’m proud of the effort from the team, all year long. It’s been difficult at times, but the second half of the year went really well, we were really quick. We had a good car today, especially at night – it was really fast, so I’m happy. Proud of the guys for hanging in there and getting better and better. It’s a shame that we didn’t get the result we were capable of or deserved, but we showed well.”
Helio Castroneves: “It’s such a shame. The MSR AutoNation / SiriusXM Acura was doing well, I think we could have battled for the win. I was running the normal line on the back straightaway, but it was pitch black, you couldn’t see anything. I ran over something and it destroyed the floor of the car: I lost all downforce and couldn’t turn the car. We had to come to the garage and fix the floor. The team did an amazing job to fix it, and the car was back on rails. It’s just very frustrating, we could have finished with a bang. But I have to thank Mike and the team for allowing me to come onboard this weekend and race, I definitely missed the Acura!”
Juan Pablo Montoya: “We were really having a great race and all of us were running at the front. The Acura performed really well in both the day and at night and I think had we not come across the debris at the end of the race that we could have at least fought for a podium result. Big thank you to MSR for having me onboard this year!”
Source. Sunday Group