Michael Shank Racing posted strong times in qualifying ahead of the first sprint race of the Rolex Series season at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
Gustavo Yacaman, who will share the #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype with Antonio Pizzonia, set the sixth fastest time in the short 15-minute session, posting a time of 2:01.624 seconds.
The COTA event will mark Pizzonia’s first Grand-Am sprint start, while Yacaman has two starts, and a podium finish, under his belt.
“I was hoping for a little bit more today, but we have made a lot of progress and I think we still have some ideas about things we can try tomorrow,” said Yacaman “I had a small problem with the brakes and that cost me on one lap, but overall this has been a good start to the weekend. Working with Antonio has been good, and now we just want to concentrate on being strong in the race. The traffic will be very key, so we just want to manage that as best we can.”
John Pew delivered the 11th fastest time, a 2:03:339 second lap, in the sister #60 Ford-Riley. Pew will be joined by Ozz Negri and will look to continue the form that took them to a podium finish at the opening round of the season at Daytona.
“The car kept getting quicker and quicker–I feel like we could have extended that qualifying session a little bit more!” added Pew “That is a good thing about these Continental Tires that the window is bigger with them and they last longer. We made some improvements with the set-up, and I think we’ve got a few more final things to try before the race. It will be interesting in Turn 1 at the start, but I think being on the outside will be an advantage once we get to Turn 2.”
“It is great to be back with two cars here for a GRAND-AM sprint race,” added team owner Mike Shank. “We made a lot of progress yesterday but haven’t 100% zeroed in on where we need the cars to be just yet. But we know that this race is going to depend a lot on traffic and being able to make the most of any clean laps we get.”
The opening sprint race of the season boasts one of the strongest Daytona Prototype fields in recent history, with 16 cars lining up to take the green flag.