Tough day for Acura, Michael Shank Racing at Road America

8/7/2017 12:04:00 AM

  • Early contact, late-race crash spoil efforts of Katherine Legge and Andy Lally
  • Tire issues eliminate Jeff Segal and Ozz Negri while running second
  • Acura remains in contention for Manufacturers' Championship with three races remaining

Hard work throughout a difficult weekend at Road America netted the Michael Shank Racing team and Acura little reward, as both cars were forced to retire from Sunday's Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.

Variable weather conditions throughout the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend – including sporadic rain showers Friday and Saturday – challenged the team, coupled with a crash by Katherine Legge during Saturday morning's final practice session.  Although repairs to Legge's #93 Acura were completed Saturday evening, the car would start at the rear of the 15-car GTD field after missing qualifying.

Starting sixth with Oswaldo "Ozz" Negri at the controls, the #86 MSR Acura was slowed by traffic at the green flag, but then made up three positions on the restart after the first caution period to run fifth.  Extremely quick work from the MSR team during the first scheduled pit stop saw co-driver Jeff Segal resume in second place, and the duo appeared headed for its first podium finish of 2017. 

But a pair of flat left-rear tires, the first coming just before the mid-point in the two hour, 40-minute race, and the second with less than an hour remaining, resulted in the MSR team retiring the #86 Acura and an unrepresentative 14th-place finish.

Legge made up three positions on the opening lap alone, and soon caught up with a group of a half-dozen GTD entries running nose-to-tail, including her teammate, Negri.  However, Legge was hit from behind by another GTD car entering Turn 8, spinning and briefly stalling before resuming.  Legge soon pitted with right rear suspension damage, which required more than 20 minutes to repair.

Co-driver Andy Lally took over the driving duties with just under an hour remaining, attempting to salvage as many championship points as possible.  However, he spun off course exiting Turn 1 with 25 minutes remaining, making hard contact with the inside wall and ending the race for the #93 NSX GT3.

As a result, Acura dropped one position in the GTD Manufacturers' Championship, to fourth, but remains just two points out of third, and only nine points out of the series lead with three races remaining.

The Acura NSX GT3s compete in the GTD class of the WeatherTech series, campaigning against premium automotive brands including Aston-Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Developed from the production Acura NSX, the NSX GT3 utilizes the production NSX's ultra-rigid and lightweight multi-material body with aluminum-intensive space frame, which is produced at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, exclusive worldwide manufacturing facility for the NSX. The 3.5-liter racing engine uses the same design specifications as the production Acura NSX, including the block, heads, valve train, crankshaft, pistons and dry-sump lubrication system. A six-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox delivers power to the rear wheels.

Video recaps from this weekend's Acura WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America are being posted on the "Honda Racing/HPD" YouTube channel.  Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2017 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.

The summer run of WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races continues in three weeks, as the series moves to another classic road course for Round 10, the August 27 Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

Lee Niffenegger (NSX GT3 project leader, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "This was a frustrating weekend, given all the effort and perseverance from everyone at Michael Shank Racing and our Honda Performance Development engineers.  Together, we fought to overcome adversity time after time this weekend.  The #86 Acura showed great pace in the race from both Ozz [Negri] and Jeff [Segal] and appeared headed for a podium finish until encountering tire failures, as did several other GTD competitors.  The #93 NSX GT3 had a great start and had caught up with its team car before being hit from behind, requiring repairs to the right rear suspension.  But, with three races to go, Acura is still in the thick of the GTD Manufacturers' Championship fight, so we'll regroup and move on to VIR."

Michael Shank (owner, Michael Shank Racing):  "It was a really tough weekend.  The biggest thing I have to say is how bad I feel for the #86 car guys.  They deserved a podium [finish] today, and they were well on their way to one.  We don't yet know what was causing the left rear tires to fail, but it happened to several other GTD cars as well.  The #93 car's crash at the end was a big one, and I'm just glad Andy [Lally] is okay.  We will regroup.  We will rebuild.  And we will be at VIR."

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