Michael Shank Racing 5th at Detroit

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Finishes Fifth in Detroit

Positive run for No. 60 Honda Ligier comes up short

Photos Courtesy of Brian ClearyBelle Isle, Mich. (4 June 2016) – Despite a small mechanical problem, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian persevered through the streets of Belle Isle Park on Saturday to deliver Honda a top-five finish in Round 5 of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Katherine Legge, who took her first laps around the Detroit circuit in her first time ever racing the Ligier machine, joined longtime Michael Shank Racing driver Ozz Negri to finish fifth after a broken rear rocker bolt forced a late-race unscheduled pit stop.

Legge quickly acclimated to the Honda-Ligier, and opened the race from fifth on the grid after a solid qualifying run on Friday. She ran trouble-free at the concrete-lined circuit through the first half of the race before handing the car over to Negri in prime condition.

“I really enjoyed my experience with Michael Shank Racing and working with Honda and with Ozz Negri as well – he was fantastic,” said Legge. “It’s not the result we were hoping for but it was a great learning experience for me. We didn’t get a great start unfortunately, but I was playing it ultra-cautious. The goal for me was just to hand it over to Ozz (Negri) so I achieved my goal.”

After a well-executed pit stop by the Michael Shank Racing crew, Negri returned to the track and with just over 30 minutes remaining, he looked to keep a charge to the front going from fourth place for a return to the Detroit podium. When the race approached the green flag for a restart following a caution period, Negri felt something break in the right rear of the car and he immediately ducked into pit lane.

The Michael Shank Racing team had half of its group in Le Mans, France in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day, so extra support was called in for the Detroit event. The newly assembled team performed flawlessly and was able to repair the broken suspension part quickly and efficiently which saw Negri return to the fray fifth in line.

Three laps down to the leader, Negri was the only car on his same lap and he focused on just turning clean and consistent lap times as he brought the Honda machine home fifth at the checkered flag.

“Our car is not designed to race this kind of track, we run it pretty stiff and it took a lot of beating and we broke a rear suspension part,” said Negri of the 100-minute Detroit sprint. “After that, I just knew I had to do something for Honda and my team, because they put a lot of effort into this. So I just went back out and ran some laps. We were the only car on that lap, there was nothing to gain and nothing to lose so we just brought it home. Fifth place is more points in the championship. We definitely need some help from the series to make the BOP a bit more equal because we are not equal with these other guys. It is completely embarrassing that the BOP – in what is supposed to be the top class in IMSA – allows a PC car and GTD car to pull away from us.”

Despite the frustrating end to a positive start for the Michael Shank Racing squad, Team Owner Mike Shank was proud of the entire organization’s Detroit effort.

“We were in a position to podium easily, we were exactly where we wanted to be,” said Shank. “It’s extremely disappointing but we still accomplished what we needed to accomplish. To stay in the championship for Honda, the team and the drivers. After all of this work, to have that result when we could have had an easy podium, it’s just brutal on everybody. But we’ll turn the page now and focus on Le Mans. I’m so proud of the effort that this team has put into both the Detroit and Le Mans projects. We’re heading back over to France tonight, and we’re looking forward to joining John (Pew) and Laurens (Vanthoor) and the rest of our guys back at Le Mans.”

Now that the checkered flag has flown on Belle Isle, the race is now on to return to France in time for the test day held on Sunday. In fact, Mike Shank and the Michael Shank Racing crew are already on a flight back to Paris hoping to be at the track by 11:30 AM local time for Negri to drive his 10 mandatory laps during the test.

Follow all the 24 Hours of Le Mans action via FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 in two weeks’ time.

Saturday 6/18
8:30a – 2:00p   FS1
2:00p –  4:30p   FS2
6:00p –  6:30p   FS2
7:00p – 7:30p   FS2
10:30p – 2:30a FS2

Sunday 6/19
2:30a – 9:30a   FS1

The next IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race is the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen on June 30 – July 3.