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Friday, June 21, 2024

Shank relishes Petit Le Mans comeback victory in final IMSA race with Acura

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Penalties have been handed out like sweet on Halloween and MSR weren’t excluded from race management’s justice. Moreover, at one level, the #60 Acura ARX-06 was two laps down following contact with one other competitor that required an prolonged pit cease to exchange a toe hyperlink.

The mixture of Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun and Helio Castroneves continued to chip away as different GTP rivals dropped out. Sitting eighth – the ultimate spot at school amongst these nonetheless working – with two hours to go, Blomqvist was struggling to maintain tempo on a set of older tyres and making an attempt to stretch the vitality.

Nevertheless, a pit cease for a driver change amid a flurry of yellows noticed Blomqvist handoff to Braun, who was outfitted with recent tyres and vitality and despatched off.

With one hour to go, a crash involving the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura put all of the gamers in a frenzy of technique, which Braun took benefit of by staying out and vaulting as much as second.

On the following restart with half-hour to go, Braun was capable of pull off a herculean transfer on the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Collection.R of Renger van der Zande getting into Flip 1 and holding agency till a late warning within the closing minutes sealed the victory.

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“With round two hours to go, we have been P-last,” co-team proprietor Mike Shank instructed Autosport.

“Tom Blomqvist’s final stint, we made a mistake and we actually harm him. I really feel horrible that we did not put tyres on once we ought to have. He had simply tremendous {old} tyres and we went backwards, and I assumed we have been accomplished. We simply actually ruined our race and put Tom in a horrible place.

“However what’s humorous is it really ended up setting us up and we have been capable of make the most of that mistake, I suppose you’d name it. It began that development of issues to get to the place we have been on the finish, which was we have been forward on gas and vitality, and we may make it. And we did.”

#60 Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian, Acura ARX-06, GTP: (left to proper) Mike Shank, Helio Castroneves, Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist

Photograph by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

The end result bookended a season for MSR after successful the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January – the place each driver and workforce have been docked 200 factors attributable to tyre information manipulation. The workforce additionally received at Mosport in July.

In the long run, the mixture of Blomqvist and Braun completed third within the total standings, simply 22 factors behind the #31 Action Express Racing duo of Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims for the GTP title.

“I instructed them every part that occurred this yr was not their fault,” Shank stated. “I instructed them to behave like champions and stated, ‘Hey double verify every part you do as we speak. Let’s exit on prime.’ And that is precisely what occurred. How can I probably be sad about it? Everybody says that, however my guys really do it.”

Shank additionally shared the fallout of the infraction additionally introduced social media abuse that was directed at his household, together with workforce co-owner Jim Meyer.

“Even by way of the crap we have been by way of and the abuse we have taken on-line; my household, my spouse, my companion, the abuse we took on-line was uncalled for,” Shank stated. “It is simply horrible. It simply feels good. It feels actually good to come back out and the individuals at HPD, the Honda Racing division that helped us get this Acura going. It is simply an unbelievably huge effort.”

There was by no means a want to depart IMSA, which is why the plan to return is sooner moderately than later however solely below particular necessities. 

“Once we come again, I can inform you I solely need to do it proper,” Shank stated. “Which means an OEM programme that I can have professional drivers and the individuals I would like within the programme. That is the best way we’ll do it. If not, then I will simply double down on my IndyCar workforce, and I am advantageous with life. So, we’ll take our time and savour this just a little bit.”

#60 Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves

#60 Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves

Photograph by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Though the workforce celebrated a particular victory, it was additionally a bittersweet night because the automobile, after being despatched by way of technical inspection, was being packed up and despatched on to Wayne Taylor Racing, who will broaden to a two-car program in 2024.

“Nobody is aware of that that automobile goes to Wayne Taylor Racing tonight, actually,” Shank stated “So, it is not a enjoyable evening for us. It’s on the one hand, clearly, however then again, it is simply the best way our world works typically.”

In the course of the post-race press convention, Blomqvist, who’s switching full-time to Shank’s IndyCar program subsequent yr, supplied up his take of occasions of the season that concluded with the 10-hour season finale.

“Good issues occur to good guys, and I believe this could not be extra true,” Blomqvist stated. “We have received three races this yr. Clearly, we do not have a championship, however I could not be prouder and on the identical time grateful to have spent these final two seasons with this workforce.

“We have accomplished so much collectively, received some good races. It is simply such a very good workforce ambiance and it is like a household. They work arduous. They by no means hand over.

“At one level there it had regarded like our race was accomplished with about two hours in the past. Once I jumped out of the automobile, we have been dying on the market on some fairly {old} tyres. However the guys by no means gave up and a few issues got here our approach.

“We capitalised on that, particularly Colin. These restarts, he has been phenomenal all yr on these chilly tyres. I believe nobody likes these chilly tyre restarts, however he does. He was the precise man within the automobile there at that proper time. …

“It is simply been a completely incredible day to see the emotion on everybody’s face throughout the workforce once we get a end result like this, when everybody is aware of it is principally the final race they usually’re not coming again subsequent yr. That was actually particular and funky to see.”



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