Podium Finish For Acura Slips Away at Long Beach
· Communication error drops Legge, Lally from third to seventh
· Last-lap contact drops Segal, Negri from sixth to 10th
· Acura NSX GT3s continue to improve
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 9, 2017) – Facing the challenge of the first temporary street circuit on the 2017 schedule, Acura Motorsports and Michael Shank Racing looked on pace for a top-three finish Saturday in Long Beach, California, before a communication error during a mid-race caution period for the #93 NSX GT3, and final-lap contact for the sister #86 machine, cost both dearly in the final results.
Starting eighth in the #93 Acura, Katherine Legge gained three positions during her stint behind the wheel, pitting the car from fifth just before mid-race in the one hour, 40-minute event. A quick pit stop, which saw the team elect to change just a single tire, gained MSR one more position, then co-driver Andy Lally moved up one more position to run third in the highly competitive GTD class.
However, a miscommunication during the third of four caution periods in the race caused the team to miss the “wave around” call for Lally, which re-sets the field for the restart. That dropped the #93 to 11th with just over 40 minutes remaining in the contest. Lally regained one position, to 10th, in the closing laps, but then was able to take advantage of a multi-car crash on the final lap to finish seventh.
Unfortunately, the #86 NSX GT3 of Jeff Segal and Ozz Negri was one of the cars caught up in the last-lap crash, robbing that Acura of a sixth-place finish. Negri had started 12th, then moved to an alternative pit strategy due to the anticipated frequent caution flags on the unforgiving Long Beach street circuit.
That strategy appeared to be paying off, as Segal worked his way up the order to sixth in the second half of the race. However, on the last lap, a pursuing car made contact with Segal and another GTD car, sending all three into the outside wall and dropping the #86 Acura to 10th at the checkers.
Competing in the GTD class of the sports car racing championship, the NSX GT3s race 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.
The Acura NSX GT3 adds to a rich legacy of Acura sports car racing championships, including the 1991, 1992 and 1993 IMSA Camel Lights manufacturer and driver championships, and the 2009 American Le Mans Series manufacturer, driver and team championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Acura WeatherTech SportsCar Championship activities at Long Beach, along with Pirelli World Challenge and Honda Verizon IndyCar Series action, are 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.
The 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continues on Saturday, May 6, with the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development): “The most encouraging aspect of today’s race was the speed we demonstrated with the NSX GT3. We’ve made real gains with this program throughout the year. It’s unfortunate that a miscommunication during a caution period took us off the podium. But the speed the MSR team and all of our drivers showed this weekend bodes well for the rest of the season.”
Andy Lally (Driver, Michael Shank Racing #93 Acura NSX GT3): “I know the result isn’t what we wanted, but we’ve all made mistakes. It happens. I actually came in [following the finish] with a smile on my face. We’ve shown huge improvement. Katherine [Legge] was flying in the first stint and set amazing lap times. We over-delivered in just our third race with this car. The Michael Shank Racing guys put the Acura in a really good position. We changed [only] one tire for the whole race, while other teams took two or four tires. We took a gamble for our strategy and it worked well for us. We were sitting pretty [before the wave-around error]. But miscues happen, and it’s onto the next one.”
Jeff Segal (Driver, Michael Shank Racing #86 Acura NSX GT3): “I’m really disappointed. We had a challenging practice and qualifying. But, like we’ve done so far this season, we executed really well in the race. We were just chipping away and picking off positions and were looking at a top-five [finish], and I was pretty content to take those [championship] points. I’m just gutted for the team. We have a torn-up race car and nothing to show for it. I don’t understand the [other driver’s] decision-making process, to wipe out three perfectly good cars for sixth place. Someone from the other team will have to explain that to me, but we’ll focus forward on the next one.”
Michael Shank (Team Owner, Michael Shank Racing): “I can’t be happy enough about the gains we’ve made with the cars from Sebring to here – it’s unbelievable. We’re talking 30 to 40 per cent better – on a rough street course – so I’m really happy about that. The pace was good, the strategy was good, but we missed the ‘pass around’ [resetting the field at the end of a caution period] and that screwed up our race. The good news is that we had the potential of finishing second or third without question. Andy [Lally] did a great job and to me, Katherine [Legge] had the drive of the year so far. It’s hard to take, because at this level, you can’t make mistakes like this. We’ll learn from it. We have to learn from it and not do it again.”