Alvaro Parente feels the whole of the #86 Michael Shank Racing squad made a good start to the year during the ROAR before the 24 at the Daytona International Speedway, the three-day test ahead of the Rolex 24 at the end of the month.
The Portuguese driver is sharing driving duties in the #86 Acura NSX GT3 alongside Katherine Legge for the four North American Endurance Cup races in 2018, with Americans AJ Allmendinger and Trent Hindman joining them for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Parente, who set the fourth fastest time in the GT Daytona class during the fifteen-minute Qualifying session towards the end of the ROAR that determined the pit and garage placements for the Rolex 24, says there is still work to be done in order for the team to be competitive in the ultra-competitive GTD class this month.
“I feel like this is a good start and we have had some really nice test days in preparation for the 24,” said Parente. “All of the guys have been doing well and we have all been having a lot of fun.
“We will continue to keep working to make improvements. The main thing is getting the car as stable and quick as possible for the race.”
Team owner Michael Shank says everything has been so much improved in 2018 after a year of getting acclimatised with the Acura NSX GT3 machine, with both the #86 and the sister #93 – which will be driven by Lawson Aschenbach, Justin Marks, Mario Farnbacher and Côme Ledogar – looking good.
However, Shank believes there is more work to be done to be truly competitive, particularly with the #93, which was not at the same pace as the #86 during the ROAR.
“Everything has improved so much from last year at this time,” said Shank. “We have made huge gains with the car and I am very happy with it.
“Qualifying was pretty much where we thought we would be for right now so we are fairly pleased. The 93 car didn’t handle exactly how we thought it would but Alvaro (Parente) did a great job in the 86 and got us a good spot as far as where we will be set up for the 24.
“I feel very good about where we are and how much progress we’ve made.”