Acura, Lally & Legge Make Championship Gains at Lime Rock
7/23/2017 12:30:00 AM
- Andy Lally, Katherine Legge finish fifth in tough, contact-filled race
- Fourth consecutive top-five result includes victories at Detroit and Watkins Glen
- Battle for season championship tightens with four races remaining
The Acura NSX GT3s of Michael Shank Racing persevered through an incident-filled Northeast Grand Prix, Saturday at Lime Rock Park, with the championship-contending duo of Andy Lally and Katherine Legge coming from a lap down to finish fifth.
Today's fourth consecutive top-five result for the pair – including race wins at Detroit and Watkins Glen – unofficially moves Acura to within six points of the GTD Manufacturers' Championship lead and both drivers to within six points of second in the Drivers' Championship.
Meanwhile, the second MSR NSX of Jeff Segal and Oswaldo "Ozz" Negri survived late-race contact to finish ninth after running as high as third in the first hour of the two-hour, 40-minute contest IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Penalties for avoidable contact put starting driver Legge down a lap to the GTD class leaders in opening hour. But a series of fastest race laps from Legge, outstanding pit work from the MSR team, and a "most valuable player" performance from Lally saw the #93 Acura not only regain the lead lap, but continue to work its way forward to gain fifth place with just a handful of laps remaining.
The race ran at a furious pace without a full course caution – the first for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since Virginia International Raceway in 2015. The lack of caution flags making Lally's closing run even more impressive as he took the checkers just 19 seconds behind the class leaders after taking only left-side tires during his final pit stop.
Meanwhile, the efforts of the second MSR NSX GT3 of Segal and Negri were dealt a major blow as Segal was punted off track late in the race, before recovering to finish ninth.
Starting driver Negri moved up from 12th on the grid to third before pitting and handing the car over to Segal. The green-flag pit stop saw Segal return to the race well down the order, but he was able to move the #86 Acura to seventh before being hit and spun off the circuit at the two-hour mark. Recovering in 10th, Segal gained one more position before the checkers to finish ninth.
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 Lime Rock Park 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 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races continues in two weeks, as the series moves to another classic road course for Round Nine, the August 6 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Andy Lally (Driver, Michael Shank Racing #93 Acura NSX GT3): "It was a rough day, but that's what we expect from Lime Rock. This is the Bristol of endurance racing. We did some beating and banging today. Katherine [Legge] had been here only once before, so I got after her to be aggressive early, and she was. She really helped me learn something today with TC [traction control] management. I'm usually pretty stubborn and shut it all off, but at a place like Lime Rock where you really abuse that left rear [tire] lap after lap. She came up with something early in the race, and was the fastest car at the end of her stint. I jumped onboard with her strategy and driving style, and it helped us go forward from there. This NSX did a really good job at Lime Rock – it's first time ever at a circuit like this. I'm looking forward to Road America, where we'll be a little more like where we were at Watkins Glen. But this one is a fun one to do once a year!"
Jeff Segal (Driver, Michael Shank Racing #86 Acura NSX GT3): "It's definitely an unsatisfying top-10 finish. It kills me for everyone involved in this program. Everyone from Michael Shank Racing, HPD and Acura works so hard – and this class is so competitive – that you can be right at the front one weekend, but if one little thing doesn't go your way, you're moved to the back. It was hot, this is a bullring and this is our Bristol. I was hoping we wouldn't be on the receiving end of it [contact]. We don;t drive dirty, that's not the way we do it. It [the contact] doesn't put the result back in our hands, but what can you do?"
Lee Niffenegger (NSX GT3 project leader, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "It was a rough start, but the Michael Shank team made a great recovery, making up 30 full seconds on the field under green flag conditions. The end result wasn't what we hoped for – or deserved based on our pace – but we made up significant ground in both the manufacturers' and drivers' championships today. We've had two wins, a second and a fifth in the last four races. We've made real gains in the middle third of this first season of racing the NSX GT3, and we're looking forward to another strong run at Road America."
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