Photo credit: Honda Racing/Acura Motorsports
Pataskala, Ohio (8 December 2016) – Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will join Verizon IndyCar Series race winner Graham Rahal to complete the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 driving lineup at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in January.
The IndyCar veterans will join a strong driver lineup that includes full-season Michael Shank Racing drivers Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, Ozz Negri and Jeff Segal as well as endurance event drivers Tom Dyer and Mark Wilkins, aboard the No. 86 and No. 93 Acura NSX GT3s.
Both Hunter-Reay and Rahal have already driven for the Michael Shank Racing operation at the Rolex 24 in Daytona Prototype competition. Fellow Ohio native Rahal drove the No. 60 Ford-Riley with Negri, Mark Patterson and Justin Wilson when the team scored the pole position and went on to finish sixth in the endurance event in 2008.
In 2009, Hunter-Reay drove the No. 60 Ford-Riley with his former driver coach Negri, along with Patterson and Colin Braun. A mechanical issue took the team out of contention that year.
“We are obviously very excited to have Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Graham (Rahal) back with us again for the 24,” said Team Owner Mike Shank. “No matter what class you are racing, how you can work through traffic is always important in the 24. So with Ryan and Graham both having experience driving different classes of cars in this race, hopefully that just adds to our strength for the 24. Speed is key, but experience is also critical so to have Ryan and Graham back with us is another great addition for this effort.”
The 2017 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark Hunter-Reay’s 11th consecutive start in the event having scored three podiums with a best finish of second in 2013. Rahal has made eight starts in the 24-hour endurance classic and won the race in 2011 with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Hunter-Reay is the most successful American driver among current open-wheel competitors, with 16 race victories and the 2012 IndyCar Series championship to his credit. Second-generation racer Rahal has four IndyCar Series victories to his name, having won most recently earlier this year at Texas Motor Speedway. Both drivers will take part in next week’s IMSA test, December 13-14, at Daytona International Speedway.
“We’re thrilled to have Graham (Rahal) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) join the Michael Shank Racing effort at Daytona,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for Acura in North America. “The debut of the NSX GT3 at the prestigious Rolex 24 will mark the return of the Acura brand to IMSA sports car competition. The addition of Graham and Ryan to an already excellent driver lineup, coupled with the experience provided by Michael Shank and his team, will make the NSX GT3 a serious contender for the GTD class victory at Daytona.”
Hunter-Reay and Rahal join Lally, Legge, Negri and Segal for the two-day open test next week at Daytona International Speedway. All eight drivers will take part in the January 6-8 “Roar Before the 24”, the final open test prior to the January 28-29 Rolex 24.
Michael Shank Racing has four podium finishes in the race, including an overall victory in the 50th Anniversary running of the Rolex 24 in 2012.