Sebring, Fla. (17 March 2017) – This weekend, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian is set to enter its second race with its two-car Acura NSX GT3 effort on Saturday in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after a strong debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Saturday’s 12-hour endurance classic marks Round 2 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Three practice sessions were held on Thursday at the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit and the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 completed 62 laps. The No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 was forced to sit out the first session on Fridaydue to clutch issues, but went on to complete 53 laps through the second and third practices.
Both Acura NSX GT3 machines saw their chances for improvement in practice reduced as each sustained contact from PC cars during Practice 4 on Friday morning with right rear suspension damage to the No. 86 and cosmetic right front damage to the No. 93. A big effort by the Michael Shank Racing crew saw both cars return to the track in time for the qualifying session.
Mark Wilkins was tabbed to qualify the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 machine that he shares with Michael Shank Racing full-season drivers Andy Lally and Katherine Legge. He wheeled the car to a fast lap of 2:01.687-seconds to secure 11th on the grid.
“The Michael Shank Racing and HPD guys are working really hard to improve the car and to find some more pace,” said Wilkins following the run. “I think we’ve found a little bit here. I was happy overall with the balance of the car and I think we have a strong racecar. In a 12 hour race, where you start is not super, super critical – it’s more or less staying out of trouble as always. So that will be the goal early in the race and to get the car into a good spot for the finish. As far as race-pace I think we’ll be pretty strong, but we certainly need a little more in qualifying.”
Ozz Negri, who has driven for Michael Shank Racing since 2004, put the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 14th on the grid with a time of 2:02.096-seconds during Friday’s 15-minute qualifying session. He will share driving duties in Saturday’s race with Jeff Segal and Tom Dyer.
“We had a pretty tough time yesterday and today,” said Negri. “Yesterday we had a clutch problem and we missed a session. I only had a couple of laps in the car and then this morning we got hit from behind and were unable to finish our session. The mechanics at the Michael Shank Racing team made miracles and put the car back together and I went out there and did the best I could. I don’t think I had anything left in the car. All my laps were pretty consistent. 14th on the grid is definitely not where we want to be but it is what it is and we’ll keep working from here.”
Team Owner Mike Shank is pleased with the team’s progress as the organization continues to develop the new Acura NSX GT3.
“This is a huge learning curve for us,” offered Shank. “Daytona was one stage, and now Sebring is Stage 2. We just have to keep our heads down and keep improving. Everyone is working their butts off on the Acura program. It’s not where we want to be for sure, but we know we can get there – we just need time to get there. We’ll work on it all the way through the race.”
Michael Shank Racing will take part in a warm up session on Saturday ahead of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring which goes green at 10:40 AM ET.
Full coverage of the event is available on the FOX Sports Go app. FS1 will begin television coverage at 12:30 PM ET. Listen to the entire race broadcast at www.radiolemans.com.