Michael Shank Racing Perserveres

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Puts Forth Big Team Effort in Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

Sebring, Fla. (19 March 2016) – The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring weekend was quite a rollercoaster ride for the Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian squad in Round 2 of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as they took home a seventh place result at the checkered flag of the endurance classic.

The team worked late into the night on Thursday to make repairs to the car after a significant crash during night practice. Exemplifying the team’s ‘never give up’ attitude, Michael Shank Racing rebounded in a big way with Olivier Pla putting the No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda Ligier P2 on the pole.

Saturday’s race began under clear skies as Pla led the race for the opening two hours after a decisive move into the first turn. Immediately setting a quick pace, the Frenchman developed a six-second gap over the field prior to the team’s first pit stop.

Track conditions were treacherous throughout most of the 12-hour endurance classic on Saturday as Pla, Pew and Negri cycled through the driver rotation in the race that saw a mix of weather as storms moved into the area just hours into the race.

The weather worsened to the point where the event was red-flagged for two-hours and 15 minutes during the afternoon when a line of heavy thunderstorms moved through. As the race clock ticked on, the crew and drivers waited out the storms. The race went back to green flag running around 1:30 PM ET.

Having fallen a lap down to the leaders over the next few segments, a brilliant strategy call from the pit box saw Pla remain on track when the prototypes made their pit stops. A stellar in lap by Pla, perfect pit stop execution, and a flawless out lap by the Frenchman saw the team return to the lead lap with a little over 2.5-hours remaining.

The race came down to a final 12-minute dash to the finish and Pla restarted fifth in line. As the front five runners battled for position in the final laps, the No. 60 made contact with another car which ultimately resulted in a broken right rear suspension that forced Pla to the garage on the final lap.

“Fantastic effort on everyone’s part,” said Team Owner Mike Shank of his team’s performance. “We just had some contact there at the end which just killed the suspension unfortunately. I’m disappointed but happy that the team keeps performing well and we’ll get ours at some point. Olivier (Pla) has been a great asset to the team. He got into some shoving matches there at the end going for position. I can’t ask for anything other than trying to be aggressive and that’s the way it ends up. So we’ll go back, fix the Tire Kingdom car up, go to Long Beach and see what we can do.”

Michael Shank Racing will next be in IMSA WeatherTech Championship action through the streets of Long Beach which will be held April 15-16.


Ozz Negri: “It was pretty difficult. It was mixed conditions. You go to a corner one lap and the same corner on the following lap is different. There was a time that it was raining on one end of the track but not the other. I just tried to do my job, and not make a mistake, just bring the car back in one piece so we could have a good finish. I felt that during my stint, it was perfect. The car was really good. It was solid. I was optimistic that we would be at least on the podium. I feel sorry for the guys because they worked their butts off and they deserve a lot more than this. Disappointed about the result, but I’m so proud of these guys and we’ll go for the next one.”

John Pew: “Everybody worked really hard. We had a good car, things just didn’t go our way completely. But I’m really proud of all the guys, the crew and my co-drivers. They did an excellent job in some very tough conditions. It was tough. In my stint the car felt really good and it just kept getting better and better throughout the stint. I’m looking forward to Long Beach. It’s a good event at a fantastic venue with a great crowd and it’s an exciting race.

Olivier Pla: “I was happy to have the pole position and to lead the first two hours. The end of the race for us was a little difficult because I think we had a shot at doing something. The car was feeling strange. I started to feel a bit of oversteer on the entry of the corners. I radioed to the team that the car wasn’t right and wasn’t like it had been before. On the second to the last lap, the suspension broke and that was it. It’s been great working with the Michael Shank Racing team, they’re a great group and I’m looking forward to the next one.”