Promising debut for Michael Shank Racing-Ligier at Daytona

Despite taking the pole position for the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the #60 Tire Kingdom/Curb Records Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 of Michael Shank Racing could only finish eleventh on Sunday, the leading LMP2 entry.

Despite the result, the whole team were happy with their performance on their first running with the Ligier package and with Honda-power. The drivers of Oswaldo Negri Jr, AJ Allmendinger, John Pew and Matt McMurry can all hold their heads up high for a highly professional and strong performance.

The team were able to maintain a top five position for the first eleven hours of the race, even leading the race for a few laps, but a small hit with the outside wall by Pew saw the car have to stop for repairs, costing it valuable time. Another trip to the pits to repair a damaged front left suspension cost them more time, and ultimately meant the team finished eleventh on the road, and sixth in class.

“I think through the first 11 hours we were able to ebb and flow with the race and be able to stay on the lead lap and work on the car when it needed to be worked on,” said Team Owner Michael Shank. “The guys were doing pit stops and tuning on the car a little bit. All of that was going exactly our way. These cars are really hard to drive on cold tires and the fronts locked up on John (Pew) and we just went straight into the tire barrier.

“All the cautions hurt our overall pace, as we just needed longer runs to develop speed with the Tire Kingdom car. That made it harder to race through traffic and on the restarts. It was just not meant to be our day. The potential is huge in the Ligier package with Honda; we have plenty of speed. We just need to figure out how to put it all together.”

“I reckon this track is the car’s weakest track,” continued Shank.  “I think everywhere else we go, we’ll have a little bit more raceability. The BOP is much better. We’ll see how it works out at Sebring and at Road Atlanta and some other tracks, but we need a fair opportunity and hopefully we’ll get that.”

Pole-sitting driver Negri Jr was proud of what the team did in Daytona but was ultimately frustrated not to have achieved a better result after being quick throughout the whole event.

I’m really proud of this team, but I can’t deny that I’m frustrated not to have a better result today in the race after leading every session, being on pole, and having the fastest race lap,” said Negri Jr. “The Tire Kingdom car was really good. The Shank guys never gave up. That’s a saying that we have on this team.

“The potential of this Ligier car is immense. We learned a lot this weekend. I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with the Honda HPD guys and the Onroak guys.”

Team-mate Allmendinger agreed with Negri Jr, heaping praise onto the Michael Shank Racing team for all their efforts throughout the 24 hour race event.

“I’m proud of everybody at Michael Shank Racing and Onroak for building this Ligier and Honda to come here and run a good strong race,” said Allmendinger. “If it weren’t for a couple of little things, we could easily have been battling for the win.

“Tire Kingdom came on board for the first two races, so Michael Shank Racing has some momentum, I just wish we had a shot at the win today. I love this race team. I love Michael Shank. He does so much with so little.”