Detroit, Mich. (3 June 2017 release) – Racing with a brand-new Acura NSX GT3 in just the team’s fifth GTD-class event, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian broke through for a tremendous IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory on Saturday as drivers Andy Lally and Katherine Legge combined to win the Detroit Grand Prix.
The win comes just one week after the team made its Indianapolis 500 debut, one year after the team made its first run at Le Mans, and just six races after the team’s most recent victory with the Honda-powered Ligier in the Petit Le Mans that closed out the 2016 IMSA season.
Further bolstering Michael Shank Racing’s victory in Detroit, was the fifth place finish of the sister No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 who ran in podium contention all the way up until the final two laps.
The weekend started out well for Michael Shank Racing when Legge put the No. 93 machine on the front row for Saturday’s 100-minute sprint through the streets of Belle Isle. The No. 86 was forced to play catch up after the team was not able to set a qualifying time and started at the rear of the grid.
Legge kept the car toward the front of the field in second for the entirety of her stint, while Negri, who opened the race in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 focused on conserving fuel as he wheeled his way around the 2.35-mile concrete lined circuit.
A strategy call from the pit box was the key to the race when both Acura NSX GT3s pitted during the first and only caution some 30 minutes into the race. The No. 93 opted for left side tires only, while the No. 86 took no tires at all.
“The pit stop was key for both cars, we just smoked them off of pit lane,” said Team Owner Mike Shank. “We called an audible when we called for two tires when we saw that caution. We knew we weren’t going to take as much fuel which maximized what we knew our fuel flow could be to how many tires we could get on in that time frame. And of course the 86 went from 12th to sixth by taking fuel only. When you keep the car on the ground (by not taking tires), the flow of fuel is a lot quicker. They kept the car low, got it filled and got out.”
Those strategy calls saw Lally take to the track as the GTD class leader while Segal took control of the No. 86 which had entered the pit lane in 12th and leapt up to run sixth for the restart.
Lally initially defended for several laps to maintain the lead position but eventually extended his leading margin to nearly two seconds and led 42 laps. Meanwhile, Segal who moved up to fourth early in his run, found himself in third when the No. 57 GTD which had run third, slowed. What looked to be a double podium finish for Michael Shank Racing was thwarted when the fourth place No. 48 GTD car nudged the No. 86 from behind with less than three minutes remaining which was enough for Segal to fall to fifth in line.
“I’m just so grateful that our team, Michael Shank Racing, gets the win for the Acura brand today,” added Shank. “You could almost feel it around this place, everyone was really, really calm before the race, it was almost too quiet! We are really making advancements on the car and I am just so thrilled for the team. Everyone from the drivers, to the crew guys, to the engineers, everyone did what they needed to today.”
Michael Shank Racing will look to carry its winning momentum with them into the next IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round – the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen on June 29 – July 2.