(Photos courtesy Acura Motorsports)

Acura, Michael Shank Racing unveil Rolex 24, WeatherTech NSX GT3 liveries

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Michael Shank Racing and Acura Motorsports have unveiled the two NSX GT3 race liveries they’ll campaign during next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

The cars will also be front and center for MSR’s efforts in the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and, per a team media release, “will feature striking ‘mirror image’ black, grey and white graphics on the team’s pair of Acura NSX GT3 entries.”

Check them out:

* First is the No. 86 car, which pays homage to Acura’s 30th anniversary in sports car racing. Similar to the paint scheme it first carried in 1986, the nose starts out with a black front before morphing into a grey cross hatch pattern and ending with a white scheme at the rear of the car.

msr-nsx-gt3-86Piloting the No. 86 will be Verizon Indianapolis 500 winner and former IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, two-time GT class champ and 2014 24 Hours of Daytona winner Jeff Segal, fellow IMSA regular Ozz Negri of Brazil and American driver Tom Dyer.

* The No. 93 team, which commemorates 1993, the year Honda Performance Development was founded, will carry a paint scheme with a look reverse to that of the No. 86, starting with a white front that eventually morphs to a black rear deck.

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The No. 93 driver lineup will IndyCar star Graham Rahal, sports car specialists Andy Lally and British racer Katherine Legge, and endurance specialist Mark Wilkins.

In addition, both cars will carry splashes of orange, which dates back to Acura Motorsports’ first entry into IMSA racing in the 1990s, as well as green, which indicates the cars are GT Daytona class entries.

“The debut of the Acura NSX GT3 at the prestigious Rolex 24 will mark the return of the Acura brand to IMSA sports car competition,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development and Acura Motorsports. “We’ve aimed to race the NSX in North America since the car was just a sketch on paper, and we couldn’t be more excited than to debut at Daytona.”

Both MSR teams will take part in the “Roar Before the 24” IMSA open test on January 6-8, at DIS.

The opening round of the 12-race 2017 WeatherTech championship, the Rolex 24, takes place Jan. 28-29.

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WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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