Another Podium Run for Michael Shank Racing, Acura in Monterey
9/25/2017 3:19:00 AM
- Andy Lally, Katherine Legge finish second at the America’s Tire 250
- Fourth podium finish of 2017, including two wins, for Acura in IMSA competition
- Acura NSX GT3 continues to impress in inaugural North American racing season
A mid-race decision to split pit strategies between the pair of Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s paid dividends Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The driver pairing of Katherine Legge and Andy Lally made opportunistic passes for position – all while saving fuel – to score a second-place finish in the GTD class in the penultimate round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The podium finish was the fourth of the season for Lally and Legge in the #93 MSR Acura, including race victories at Detroit and Watkins Glen, and a second-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Starting 11th in GTD, Legge gained four positions in the first 40 minutes of the 2 hour, 40-minute contest, then stretched her fuel mileage to run to the 55-minute mark, moving up to second as other GTD competitors pitted for their first scheduled service.
With Lally at the wheel of the #93 NSX GT3, a full-course caution period led the MSR team to call him in for a final scheduled pit stop with an hour and 10 minutes remaining, requiring Lally to save fuel in order to complete the race without a third pit stop.
Meanwhile, the #86 MSR Acura, started by Oswaldo "Ozz" Negri from seventh, soon moved up to fourth as the veteran Brazilian completed his own impressive stint. With Negri handing off to co-driver Jeff Segal at the 53-minute mark, the MSR team elected to keep the #86 NSX GT3 on its original pit plan, as the 16-car GTD field effectively split into two groups.
As the race entered its closing stages with no additional cautions, Lally was running fourth, but moved up to second in the final laps as two other competitors ran short of fuel and were forced to pit. Meanwhile, Segal improved from 12th to 10th, but was unable to advance further in the run to the checkers.
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.
Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for Acura Motorsports in North America, and J.A.S. Motorsport of Italy are now offering the race-winning NSX GT3 for sale around the world for the 2018 season. In addition to its success in the IMSA WeatherTech series, the NSX GT3 also has recorded a victory in Pirelli World Challenge competition this year.
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 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 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 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now takes one week off before resuming October 7 for the season-ending Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance contest at Road Atlanta in Gainesville, Ga.
Andy Lally (driver, #93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3) finished second today: "Michael Shank Racing called an awesome race and it's the strategy that put us [on the podium]. We came out of the box struggling this weekend. But Dale [Wise, technical director] and the guys put their heads together and gave us a really good setup in the morning warm up [final practice session] and it paid off. The NSX GT3 did a really great job maintaining its tires. It's nice to stand on the podium and spray a little champagne. We came into this weekend thinking that we would be lucky to get a top five [result]. The MSR guys played a really smart strategy and we came out with second place."
Katherine Legge (driver, #93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3) finished second today: "It's a testament to the strength of the Michael Shank Racing Acura team. It was all to do with strategy and saving fuel. We didn't have the outright speed today, but we pulled it out. We ran as fast as we could while saving as much fuel as we could. Hopefully this will give us some momentum going to Petit Le Mans. We still need a little bit more speed. We didn't have it here, but it makes things a little bit easier. Hopefully we can go to Road Atlanta and finish the season off on a high note."
Michael Shank (owner, Michael Shank Racing) on today's race: "It really came down to fuel mileage. The #86 needed [to make up] five laps of fuel, while the #93 only needed two laps. We took the chance with the 93 [making it to the finish after the early stop] that the 86 couldn't [do]. It's unfortunate because Ozz [Negri] and Jeff [Segal] have been fast all weekend. It's great to be back on the podium. This weekend is a great example of what we need to do to be successful, so I think this was a good way to go into [the season finale] Petit Le Mans."
Lee Niffenegger (Acura NSX GT3 Project Leader, Honda Performance Development): "This was a great example of never giving up. Both cars showed good pace throughout practice and, even though we had a disappointing qualifying session, the Michael Shank Racing team came up with a great strategy call mid-race. The decision to split pit strategies between the #93 and #86 Acuras paid off with another podium finish for Andy [Lally] and Katherine [Legge], our fourth of the season in IMSA competition, including the victories at Detroit and Watkins Glen. It's unfortunate that Jeff [Segal] and Ozz [Negri] were unable to capitalize on the speed they demonstrated throughout the weekend in the #86 NSX GT3, but the decision to split the strategies was the correct call as the race played out. It's great to get another strong result for MSR and Acura after a couple of tough races, and we look forward to finishing the year with another good finish at the Petit Le Mans in two weeks."
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