Shank's two Acura NSX GT3s at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Shank shifts NSX GT3 lineup with strong new additions

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INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Shank’s sports car program has undergone significant transition over the last few years, with the latest transformation announced today at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

Shank’s factory Acura NSX GT3 program has transitioned to a full customer effort for 2018 and as such, it means the lineup takes on a different blend of drivers compared to 2017.

Katherine Legge is the only one of the Michael Shank Racing drivers who stay on for another year – albeit in a different type program. Meanwhile Shank veteran Ozz Negri is a free agent and at the moment, ace driving coach, while Andy Lally and Jeff Segal are off to new (old) rides. Lally returns to Magnus Racing and Segal to Scuderia Corsa, Lally for a full season effort in Magnus’ yet-to-be-announced series (expected to be IMSA) while Segal rejoins Scuderia Corsa for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Incoming to Shank’s NSX GT3 program are three new drivers, with Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks paired for the full season in the team’s No. 93 car with Legge and new recruit, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge champion Alvaro Parente, sharing the team’s No. 86 car for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

The American duo in the No. 93 car will be joined by German ace Mario Farnbacher for the endurance events in 2018, while 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner AJ Allmendinger will return to the team for the 2018 Rolex 24 event in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3. Additional endurance drivers for the No. 86 car will be named later.

This confirmation of Shank’s program is the second NSX GT3 program confirmed in as many days, with HART Racing Team confirming Ryan Eversley and Chad Gilsinger on Thursday for the Patron Endurance Cup races. It’s good times to bring the customer NSX GT3 program up to a total of at least three cars for 2018, with perhaps additional potential for more.

In addition to the commercial program with SiriusXM and AutoNation, Michael Shank Racing is pleased to continue and grow its long-running partnerships with Curb Records, CAP and Associates, Rocky Fork Company, and Roberts Service Group in 2018 as the partners have stepped up to grow their involvement in both the IndyCar and IMSA programs.

“We learned so much with this program last year and I was very proud to represent Acura and bring home a pair of wins with the NSX in its first season,” said Shank. “The NSX is phenomenal and we want to build on what we’ve learned so far. I’m very pleased to have two big talents in Justin (Marks) and Lawson (Aschenbach) come on board—their records speak for themselves. Having the second entry for the long races and maybe some additional events will also be a boost for the program, between what Katherine (Legge) already knows about this car from last year and having a guy like Alvaro (Parente) join us, that will be a second bullet for us in the long races. And people are going to love how these cars are going to look.”

Aschenbach and Marks raced with separate teams in IMSA this year, Aschenbach the full season for Stevenson Motorsports and Marks a partial campaign with Turner Motorsport.

“I’m extremely excited to be joining Michael Shank Racing in 2018. This team has the professionalism and dedication needed for success. From top to bottom you can see that everyone has a common goal, and that is to win. This is the type of environment that drivers dream about. It’s going to be fun teaming up with my buddy Justin Marks. He’s a great friend and we are both excited to be pushing for podiums and wins with Michael Shank Racing and the Acura NSX GT3,” said Aschenbach.

Marks added,  “Even focusing the past years of my career in NASCAR, I’ve always felt that a return to full time endurance sports car racing was a goal.  To make that return with a team like MSR is really special.  I have a lot of respect for Michael (Shank) and everything he’s accomplished.  It’s a very cohesive, dedicated, classy group of talented individuals.”

“Michael Shank Racing is very respected in the racing industry.  They’ve proven they were well equipped to take on the NSX North American racing program in 2017 and I think are poised to take the next step in 2018 as GTD Championship contenders. Lawson and I are great friends  and have been trying to put something together to be teammates for several years, so driving with him is incredibly exciting for me.    I’m a fan of his talent, work ethic, and approach.”

The team won twice this year with Legge and Lally doubling up at Detroit and Watkins Glen; Detroit was the new NSX’s first win and Watkins Glen proved it wasn’t a fluke.

Formula E: Vergne outlasts di Grassi for Punta del Este victory

Photo: Getty Images
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Saturday’s Punta del Este ePrix did not disappoint, with Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi engaging in a thrilling battle throughout the entire race.

Vergne led the way from the pole, having been promoted up the grid after original pole sitter di Grassi was ruled to have cut a chicane during his pole lap, but di Grassi was right on the back wing of Vergne the entire way and made several attempts to get by.

The intense battle between the two, which saw them nearly lock Vergne’s rear wing with di Grassi’s front nose, stayed remarkably clean for the most part, and Vergne was able to hold off all of di Grassi’s advances, a few of which can be viewed below, to take the win.

DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was also on the charge, the British driver coming from ninth on the grid to take third.

Full race results can be viewed here. The victory sees Vergne extend his points lead over Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist, who finished fifth, to 30 points, with Vergne on 109 markers and Rosenqvist on 79.

Bird sits third with 76 points, respectively.