The Alley

Shank’s perfect Le Mans warm-up

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Michael Shank Racing had the prefect preparation for its forthcoming debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by taking victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca yesterday.

While the Shank squad has been to victory lane before including at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, this was the team’s first victory with the Honda-powered Ligier Le Mans LM P2-spec car.

shank_pic3While the Mazda factory cars had dominated the weekend in Monterey, Shank’s team and drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri enjoyed a trouble-free race. Negri emerged from the pit lane third after swapping from Pew who started the race and quickly moved into the lead.

He dropped back to third after his final stop with 48 minutes remaining but regained the lead as other teams cycled through their stops. The Brazilian’s faultless drive rewarded the team with a victory margin of more than 30 seconds.

“This is absolutely fantastic!” Negri said.

“I pushed as hard as I could from the beginning to the end. We needed to have a lot of commitment to be out front and I brought it with me today.”

With victory under their belt in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the team will now focus its attention to Europe.

Michael Shank Racing will test at Monza on May 22 and 23 before traveling to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is set for June 18-19.

“Confidence is everything in this business. We get to have two days at Monza to test, which we can just build off of,” Team Owner, Michael Shank said.

“We’re super excited and relieved, really. I’ve got a pain in my neck that can go away now! The plane trips home after a win are the best. The Mazdas had a bit of pace on us but not in the race, and especially not when you throw in pit work and strategy. We just dominated today and that’s what won the race, among other things.”

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