Michael Shank Racing’s two car team is a mix of drivers who have and have not raced at Road Atlanta as the Ohio based team prepares for their first ever race at the track.
Both men who will crew the team’s #60 Ford-Riley have experience of the 2.54 mile Braselton track, with Michael Valiante’s experience being the most recent, dating back only to last year’s Petit Le Mans where the Canadian drove a GTC class Porsche.
“I really enjoy the place and I’m looking forward to going back there,” said Valiante, who continues with the team in place of Ozz Negri as he recovers from an off-season cycling accident. “It’s a really technical circuit and it’s really high speed. There is so much history there and I enjoy racing there. I think it’s great for the series – there is so much history at that track. It’s so nice to go back to tracks that have been in the United States for so many years and have so much history so I’m really looking forward to it.”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve been at Road Atlanta,” said co-driver John Pew in contrast. “When I was doing the Star Mazda series I did a couple of seasons there at Road Atlanta. I loved the track and before that I was doing Skip Barber. So it’s been awhile –but it’s still in my head! I have some video I can look at. It’s a great track. I’m really glad that we’re racing there. It will be great for the Daytona Prototypes. I can’t wait to do Turn 1 and 2 and the esses and coming down the hill in a DP. It will be great. It’s great for the series and great for the fans.”
Team owner Mike Shank has also raced at the track before, facing opposition including Peter Baron, now team owner of Rolex Series rivals Starworks Motorsport.
“The track is a challenge, every lap,” said Shank. “You have blind turn in points and all the elevation changes. But between the experience that John and Michael have at the track, and Gustavo [Yacaman] and Antonio [Pizzonia] being able to pick up new tracks quickly, hopefully we can be right on the pace when it matters.”
In further contrast both Yacaman and Pizzonia in the #6 car will be racing at the track for the first time as they aim to continue their record of finishing in the top-10 after doing just that in both of their Rolex Series races together so far, including at the Circuit of the Americas, another track where both drivers were making their first start.