- Team recovers from qualifying issues to contend for podium
- Fourth top-five finish for MSR in 2016
- Tight Manufacturers’ Championship battles continue with two races remaining
|WeatherTech SportsCar Continental Tire Road Race Showcase|
|Circuit:||Road America (4.0-mile road course) Elkhart Lake, WI|
|Weather:||Mostly sunny, mild, 77 degrees F|
Starting 16th, after a spin in qualifying and resulting penalties moved the Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda to the rear of the prototype field for Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, the MSR team and drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri combined speed with fuel savings to finish fourth at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
It was the fourth top-five finish for the Shank team in 2016, and kept Honda in the thick of the three-way Manufacturers’ Championship battle in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
With Pew behind the wheel for the opening stint in the two-hour, 40-minute contest, the MSR Ligier-Honda moved through almost the entire Prototype Challenge field. At the first round of green-flag plt stops, Pew handed the car over to Negri, who continued to gain positions, moving into fifth as the race reached the halfway point. Despite having to save fuel over the final 45 minutes, Negri picked up one more position during the final stint to take the checkers in fourth.
Honda continues to lead the Manufacturers’ Championship in the series-within-a-series Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship, after opening the season with a pair of wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil One 12 Hours of Sebring, followed by a third-place result last month at Watkins Glen International Raceway in New York. The four-race NAEC concludes with the season-ending, 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
In the battle for the season-long Manufacturers’ Championship, Honda is currently ranked second, with three wins, 12 points out of the lead. Next up for the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be the Lone Star Le Mans, September 17 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Ozz Negri (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier Honda): “Fourth was good, but of course not as good as what we wanted. We had to run a very conservative fuel strategy. At the end of the race, the car was [handling] just how I like it. You have to take chances every single corner. It was a pretty eventful race. At the end of the day, from where we started, we had a pretty good race. It was a good [championship] points day for the team.”
Michael Shank (team owner, Michael Shank Racing): “Everything went fairly well. We were able to get some track position [during John Pew’s opening stint]. Once we figured out that we were going to have to save fuel, we kind of had to back it off a bit. The ‘balance of performance’ [between marques and engine types] is still an issue. We just don’t have the equality that we’d like to. We have great one-lap pace when there is no traffic, but we still aren’t able to race well. From where we started, [a fourth-place finish] is pretty good. It’s good for the [championship] points and good for the team, Honda, and Ligier. Now we’ll look ahead to the final two races at Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Manufacturers’ Championship (unofficial, after 8 of 10 races):
|1.||Chevrolet||271 points (5 wins)|
|2.||Honda||259 (3 wins)|
IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship (unofficial, after 3 of 4 races):
|1.||Honda||41 points (2 wins)|
|1.||Chevrolet||40 (1 win)|
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