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First F1 points of 2017 an early birthday present for Grosjean in Bahrain

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Romain Grosjean may have been unable to repeat his magical charge to fifth place for Haas from last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but the Frenchman nevertheless managed to pick up an early birthday present in the form of his first Formula 1 points of the year.

Grosjean lifted NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ eponymous operation to its best F1 result in just its second-ever race in Bahrain last year, finishing fifth.

The pace advantage of the front-runners and close-knit nature of the midfield made a repeat result unlikely for Grosjean in 2017, leaving him to settle for eighth place at the checkered flag.

The result marked Grosjean’s first points of the year, matching the result achieved by teammate Kevin Magnussen seven days earlier in China.

“It was a pretty good race. I made a decent start and my first stint was pretty good, but it was tough to stay behind the Renault,” Grosjean – who turns 31 today – said.

“Then we had the bad luck with the safety car, as we’d pitted just before. I saw [Sergio] Perez come out and I thought: ‘How did he come out in front of me when he’d been 10 seconds behind?’ He gained 12 seconds with the safety car and that cost a position.

“At the restart I struggled a little bit with the top speed. But, eventually, we made the right strategy call and pushed on the good laps with some great overtaking maneuvers. So, here we are, P8. It’s good to be here scoring points.”

With Grosjean and Magnussen now off the mark in 2017, Haas now has two drivers contributing to its F1 points haul for the first time. Esteban Gutierrez failed to score a single point through his one-year stint with the team in 2016.

Wayne Taylor Racing, Meyer Shank Racing will run Acura in IMSA DPi

New Acura IMSA teams
Acura Motorsports
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Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing will become new Acura Motorsports teams next season in the Daytona Prototype International class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

In a multiyear deal, each team will campaign a car in IMSA’s top division starting with 2021, essentially replacing Acura’s two-car factory effort with Team Penske that will be ending after a three-season run.

Honda Performance Development president Ted Klaus said drivers for WTR and MSR would be announced later by the teams.

Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Cadillac leads the points in the DPi division this season with drivers Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande after opening the season with a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, its second in the past three seasons in the prestigious sports car event.

Meyer Shank Racing will be moving up to the DPi level after campaigning Acura NSX GT3 entries in the GT Daytona class this season. MSR also fields a full-time Dallara-Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Acura Motorsports

Here’s the release from Acura Motorsports:

Acura Motorsports today announced it will partner with Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing to campaign a pair of Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, beginning in 2021.

“It is a pleasure to announce that Wayne Taylor Racing will be joining the Acura ARX-05 IMSA program in 2021, along with Meyer Shank Racing, which will build on our very successful partnership by moving up to the prototype ranks,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura Brand Officer. “We’re confident that both teams will help us build on the successes we’ve achieved to date in IMSA competition, as we continue to apply Precision Crafted Performance to all of our activities – on the race circuits of North America, in our production vehicles, and in the market place.

“We also want to thank Roger Penske, who has long been an important part of the Acura family as one of our great Acura dealers. It has been a privilege to have Roger as part of the Acura Motorsports family over the past three years.”

Defending IMSA GTD class champion Meyer Shank Racing [MSR] is in its third decade of operation. With wins in some of the biggest races in the sport, the Ohio-based team played a key role in the development of the successful Acura NSX GT3 Evo, and has raced the car to victory lane in four consecutive seasons, culminating in the drivers’ and teams’ titles in 2019. Acura and MSR are the current leaders in all three major GTD title championships.

“When Acura and HPD chose Meyer Shank Racing to debut the Acura NSX GT3 in 2017, it was a big moment in our history. I’m really proud of building a championship-winning program and everything that we’ve been able to accomplish together with the NSX,” said Michael Shank, co-owner of Meyer Shank Racing. “As a team, we’ve been working toward the opportunity to go and fight for overall wins for a long time, and I am eager to get going with this program. But we have some work to do first, and we are 100 percent focused on bringing another IMSA championship home with the Acura NSX in 2020.”

“Mike and I are both eager to expand our IMSA program and get to once again work with Acura and HPD,” said MSR co-owner Jim Meyer. “Mike has built such a strong IMSA program over the last decade, and this is another step that we’re looking forward to pursuing.”

Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Wayne Taylor Racing [WTR] has built a proven track record of success and ingenuity in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class, including two IMSA driver championships [in 2013 and 2017] and the 2017 IMSA DPi team championship. A three-time champion as a driver in sports car competition and Le Mans winner in 1998, Taylor’s Acura roots stretch back to 1992, when he drove for the championship-winning Comptech Acura team in IMSA Camel Lights competition.

WTR also has played an important role in winning eight IMSA manufacturer championships and has scored multiple victories in endurance racing’s most iconic events – the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and Six Hours at Watkins Glen.

“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity given to me by HPD and Acura Motorsports,” said Wayne Taylor, owner of Wayne Taylor Racing. “Since getting to know everyone at HPD and Acura Motorsports, I feel that they have a lot of respect for the Wayne Taylor Racing family. What I really like is that they have the same passion and vision as I do. I am looking forward to running the DPi for the next few years. I am equally excited to be able to bring my long-term partnership with Konica Minolta, Rick Taylor and Michael Mathe to the program. We all can’t wait to get started.”

“We welcome Wayne Taylor Racing into the Acura Motorsports family, and very much anticipate their contributions to our prototype program,” said Ted Klaus, president of HPD, the competition arm for Acura Motorsports. “Equally, we look forward to growing our successful partnership with Meyer Shank Racing, now in DPi. Our intention is to have Acura Motorsports partner with MSR and WTR, to not only continue our championship ways in DPi, but to collaborate to develop the next generation Acura LMDh. Finally, we want to thank Team Penske for their outstanding effort and impressive results together with Acura and HPD these past three years.”

In addition to sweeping all three major IMSA DPi championships in 2019 – for Manufacturers, Drivers and Teams – the Acura ARX-05 has scored six race wins, 14 additional podium finishes, and 11 poles from 25 races in two-and-a-half seasons of IMSA multi-manufacturer competition that has included Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan. Acura comes to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course seeking a third consecutive win this season, as well as a third consecutive victory in this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.

Acura Motorsports also campaigns the Acura NSX GT3 Evo in the IMSA GTD category, with defending GTD champion Meyer Shank Racing and the Gradient Racing organizations.  Winner of the IMSA GTD driver and team titles in 2019 – and the current GTD championship leader – the NSX program is expected to continue in IMSA competition in 2021.