Strong Debut for Michael Shank Racing in new Honda-Powered Ligier


No. 60 Tire Kingdom/Curb Records Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 shows well in 24-hour debutas Michael Shank Racing fastest car at Rolex 24

bab373af-6324-4bf8-bc31-7d4898a9aad6Daytona Beach, Fla. (25 January 2015) – When Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian entered the gates of Daytona International Speedway for the 53rd running of the iconic Rolex 24 At Daytona, the team understood the challenge that lay ahead as it opens a new chapter for the organization with its new Ligier JS P2 car and new Honda engine platform. But the Ohio-based squad was confident in its new package and rose to the challenge in a big way.

In six on-track sessions held throughout the Rolex 24 event, Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 Tire Kingdom Ligier JS P2 Honda set the fastest time in every single one of them. Longtime Shank driver Ozz Negri led the way in Thursday’s qualifying to deliver the team its second Rolex 24 pole and third overall pole.

31406196-6f8c-4961-839c-3b41398d55acNASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger set the fastest race lap during the twice around the clock event with a time of 1:39.576-seconds as Michael Shank Racing demonstrated the potential of the new package and went six-for-six with the quickest time in each session.

Negri and Allmendinger combined with John Pew and Matt McMurry for the team’s 12th consecutive start in the event. McMurry made history when he became the youngest driver ever to drive a prototype in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The race opened strongly with the team running among the top-five throughout the first 11 hours of the race, but an abundance of full course caution periods (18) saw the No. 60 Tire Kingdom machine unable to show its long-run speed versus the fast-starting high torque DPs.

bd093fc7-8fbb-421b-ae7f-b959b353e277As darkness fell and the track conditions changed from warm and sunny skies to cooler weather, the No. 60 Honda-powered Ligier continued on through the night with John Pew running as high as third in the overnight hours. Unfortunately, the cold conditions didn’t favor the No. 60 machine on a Lap 385 restart, when the tires locked up and the No. 60 Ligier made contact with the Turn 3 tire barrier. Pew was able to bring the car back to pit lane and the crew amended a quick repair, but despite a high count of cautions, this was not one of them as the track stayed green and cost the team extensive track position.

“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 Mike 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. We only had to replace the nose to get going again, but it also eventually broke an a-arm after it got dented and eventually fatigued.”

a19241e5-3a47-40ff-b0c8-083708b221f3Through the remainder of the nighttime hours and into the early morning, the Michael Shank Racing group continued to perform quick pit stops and race laps with Allmendinger putting down the quickest lap of the 24-hour event on Lap 598. As the team looked to gain back laps, the focus was on moving forward and staying trouble free and that goal was accomplished until the a-arm on the front left suspension bent which saw the car in the garage for some 36 minutes.

“All the cautions hurt our overall pace, as we just needed longer runs to develop speed with the Tire Kingdom car,” continued Shank. “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.”

At the end of the 24-hour event, Michael Shank Racing’s Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 brought home a sixth place finish after leading laps around the famed Daytona International Speedway.

392cd043-f531-44cf-ac33-ae827690fe05The Daytona outing showed just how much potential Michael Shank Racing’s team has with its new Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 and everyone has high anticipation of what the 2015 TUDOR Championship will bring for the team.

“I reckon this (Daytona) track is the (Ligier) car’s weakest track,” added 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.”

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will be back in race action in six weeks as the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship stages Round 2 with the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway.


Ozz Negri: “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. 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.”

John Pew: “That’s us, we never give up. I’m really proud of my co-drivers Ozz (Negri), AJ (Allmendinger), and Matt (McMurry). I really enjoy those guys and they have amazing talent. It was awesome driving this car here after driving other cars here for so many years. It’s a perfect car for this and I think for Sebring and some of the other tracks we go to it’s going to be a perfect car for that. This is really so new to us – the car, the engine, and everything – it was just brand new. This was like a 24 hour test session. We learned a lot. To be P1 in all the practice and qualifying with new car, that just shows you how good it’s going to be.”

AJ Allmendinger: “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. If it weren’t for a couple of little things, we could easily have been battling for the win. I love this race team. I love Michael Shank. He does so much with so little. To have all of the support from Onroak to make this Ligier so good. I’ve seen six or seven Honda guys at one time over here in our pit. We have a lot of support. 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.”

Matt McMurry: “My first Rolex 24 was overall very good. Unfortunately we had a few problems, but I learned a lot during it and we all did really well. Everyone tried as hard as they could. I’m not too disappointed in our performance. I think it says a lot about the Ligier car that it performed so well. This is Daytona and only has six turns. At a track like Sebring that we go to next, with more high downforce turns, that is where this car really performs best so I think we can do even better there. When we had the suspension failure, I wasn’t sure even what happened. I thought someone had hit me, because that’s what it felt like. Overall I think we have the potential to be on the podium every time. I really enjoyed working with Ozz (Negri), John (Pew) and AJ (Allmendinger). They all did really well and were just fast the whole time.”