Despite initial plans to not run the upcoming IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Detroit, Michael Shank Racing will be able to field its Ligier JS P2 Honda after all.
Shank will have a separate Ligier JS P2 Honda chassis – the one fielded by Tequila Patron ESM in the opening two WeatherTech Championship races at Daytona and Sebring – already on site at the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day on Sunday, June 5.
So on Saturday, June 4, Ozz Negri will be joined by Katherine Legge in the Shank team’s standard No. 60 car as John Pew will already be in France preparing for his initial run on the test day. Negri, the Brazilian, will then head to Le Mans straight after Detroit as others will.
Legge, who’s starred in the DeltaWing this year but has been unlucky not to bag a result beyond a fifth place co-driving with Sean Rayhall at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will deputize for Pew as the DeltaWing team won’t take its DWC13 coupe to the streets of Detroit.
She has past Honda experience in IndyCar (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the 2013 Indianapolis 500) and more recently in a Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class at Road America in 2014, co-driving with James Vance.
The Shank entry at Detroit keeps Honda – which has a four-point lead over Chevrolet (135-131) – in the hunt for the season long Manufacturer’s Championship in the Prototype class.
It will make for a complex logistical scenario but something that the team will work to pull off; knowing Shank’s pluck and determination, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s going to try something this cool on the same weekend.
Shank has also enlisted the services of Kevin Doran and Doran Racing, sidelined this year because Nissan withdrew factory support of its two-car 370Z GS class program in the Continental Tire Challenge, to help support the Detroit effort. Members of the Doran Racing squad will also supplement the on-site personnel for the Michael Shank Racing effort.
“I have to admit that I hated the idea of missing Detroit, so for everything to come together for us to race that weekend the way that it has, I’m really happy,” Shank said in a team release. “Hopefully we can bring Honda some good points in the championship.
“Thanks to Katherine (Legge) for jumping in to help us out with John (Pew) already being set up for the Test Day in France. We are looking forward to having her with us, and I really appreciate Dr. Panoz and Tim (Keene, DeltaWing team manager) letting her join us that weekend. It’s a bit more logistical legwork for us, but we’ve got a good plan in place, and we’ll have Kevin Doran and some of his guys in Detroit to help us out, so we feel good about having a competitive race in Detroit.”
“This is not only my first time in an LMP2 but my first time racing at Detroit and I am really looking forward to it,” Legge added. “I am extremely grateful to Mike Shank and Honda for offering me this chance to drive and really appreciate that Dr. Panoz (Panoz DeltaWing Racing team owner) agrees that this is too good of an opportunity to miss as the DeltaWing is not racing. Ozz (Negri) has already started sending me in-car footage and notes for me to study, and I hope to be as ready as possible from the start of the weekend. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I intend on making as much of it as I possibly can.”