Michael Shank Racing Acura’s Knocked Out in Virginia
· Virginia International Raceway runs end early for both Acura NSX GT3s
· Competitor penalized after contact with Katherine Legge’s #93 Acura
· Ozz Negri’s #86 NSX GT3 retires after contact from a GTLM entry
ALTON, Va. (August 27, 2017) – Promising early runs for both Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s ended after less than an hour of racing Sunday at Virginia International Raceway, due to damage resulting from separate incidents.
The GT-only event marked Round 10 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. As the field funneled into the first turn of the two hour, 40-minute race, Katherine Legge in the #93 Acura was forced to take evasive action to avoid a spinning car, dropping her from ninth at the start to 14th in the competitive GTD class. However, in the MSR #86 NSX GT3, Ozz Negri was able to gain three positions in the melee, moving him to ninth.
Negri and Legge both gained additional positions in the opening laps, with the pair briefly running together in seventh and eighth, respectively. Once in front of her teammate, Legge closed rapidly on sixth-place Sage Karam as the race hit the 40-minute mark.
Coming out of the “Oak Tree Corner” hairpin and entering the downhill portion of the VIR circuit, prior to a series of “S” bends, Legge pulled alongside Karam to pass. But Karam moved over, making side-to-side contact with Legge, and damaging the front suspension. The pair again made contact several times entering and going through the following left-hand bend.
Karam was assessed a 60-second “stop-and-hold” penalty by race officials for causing the incident, but the damage caused to the #93 Acura resulted in the car’s retirement from the race, leaving both Legge and do-driver Andy Lally on the sidelines.
Just five minutes later, the GTLM class Corvette of Jan Magnussen made contact with the left-rear corner of Negri’s Acura, sending the #86 NSX GT3 spinning off course at the left-hand Turn 3, and making contact with the barriers. Negri was able to resume, and pitted for service and a scheduled driver change. But co-driver Jeff Segal soon returned to pit lane, and the car was retired due to damage from the earlier contact.
The Acura NSX GT3s compete in the GTD class of the WeatherTech series, campaigning against premium automotive brands including Aston-Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Developed from the production Acura NSX, the NSX GT3 utilizes the production NSX’s ultra-rigid and lightweight multi-material body with aluminum-intensive space frame, which is produced at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, exclusive worldwide manufacturing facility for the NSX. The 3.5-liter racing engine uses the same design specifications as the production Acura NSX, including the block, heads, valve train, crankshaft, pistons and dry-sump lubrication system. A six-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox delivers power to the rear wheels.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Acura WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Virginia International Raceway, as well as Honda IndyCar action from Gateway Motorsports Park, are being posted on the "Honda Racing/HPD" YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2017 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
After a run of late-summer events, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now takes a three-week break before returning for the 11th round of the 12-race championship, the September 24 Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
Michael Shank (owner, Michael Shank Racing) on today’s race: “The good news is that both cars were quick and we expected them to do well today. The bad news is that the wheels just fell off the whole thing today. The first problem was Sage [Karam] and Katherine [Legge] getting together. What Sage did is beyond anything reasonable in racing. We’re all aggressive, and we’re all trying to do well, but he blatantly drove her off the track and then brake checked her. I’m extremely disappointed in Sage and how he raced us. In the #86 car, Ozz [Negri] was pushed out by the [GTLM class] Corvette [of Jan Magnussen]. They were both going for the same apex, and arguably the Corvette shouldn’t have tried to do it there [in Turn 3]. We’re going to regroup. We’ll fix both cars and we’ll be back at Laguna, ready to go forward.”