HPD Racing Report
Sunday, September 19, 2015
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Lone Star Le Mans
Circuit: Circuit of the Americas (3.40-mile road course) Austin, TX
2014 Winner: Scott Pruett / Memo Rojas (Chip Ganassi Racing Ford)
Weather: Mostly sunny, hot, 93 degrees F
Negri Charges to Fourth at Circuit of the Americas
· Second-consecutive fourth place finish for Honda, Michael Shank Racing
· Fifth top-four result of 2015 for Honda-powered team
· Justin Wilson honored
Honda-powered Michael Shank Racing continued to demonstrate strong form in the final rounds of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, finishing fourth on Saturday in the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, penultimate round in the 10-race 2015 championship.
Starting on the outside of the front row after qualifying second, Oswaldo “Ozz” Negri persevered through hot and humid conditions that came with the early afternoon race start time, running in the lead pack through the first round of pit stops, where Negri handed over to co-driver John Pew. While working his way through the slower GT-class field, Pew was penalized with a “drive-through” pit lane after making contact with the class-leading Porsche 911.
Resuming behind the wheel mid-race to finish the two-hour, 40-minute contest, Negri took the his Honda-powered Ligier JSP2 from eighth to fifth, then made a third and final pit stop with 48 minutes remaining. A quick stop by the Michael Shank Racing team saw Negri gain another position as other cars made their final stops to fourth. Negri then spent the final laps chasing down and the battling the Corvette Prototype of Richard Westbrook for third, but was unable to complete the pass, despite making a lunge in the final corners as the pair encountered slower traffic.
Honda IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who died on last month as a result of injuries sustained in a racing accident at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, was honored this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas. Wilson was a frequent co-driver for MSR in long-distance races such as the 24 Hours of Daytona, where he was part of the winning driver lineup in 2012. The #60 Ligier-Honda featured a special graphic package that included use of Wilson’s helmet colors and a large union jack on the rear fin. Prior to the start of today’s race, Negri took the car on a lap of honor ahead of the 36-car starting field, saluted by both the race day crowd and team members all along pit lane.
The Ligier chassis fielded by MSR is powered by a production-based 2.8-liter Honda HR28TT V6 engine, developed for competition by HPD from the Honda “J35” series of passenger vehicle V6 engines, with improvements including twin turbochargers. Key production-based components include the block and cylinder heads, direct-injection fuel system, valve train components, drive-by-wire throttle, alternator, sensors and fasteners. The engine even features a stock Honda oil filter.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship concludes in two weeks with the Petit Le Mans, a10-hour endurance contest, October 3 at Road Atlanta in Gainesville, GA.
Ozz Negri (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda) on today’s race: “The tribute lap [in honor of Wilson] was very special. I thought about Justin and how thankful I am that he was a part of our team and a part of the best win of my career [victory in the 2012 24 Hours of Daytona], as well as just being my friend. We gave it everything [in the race] today. I tried to surprise Richard [Westbrook, for third place in the closing laps] but I wasn’t ever close enough. I was much stronger under braking in a couple of places, but I got stuck in traffic a couple of times, and then I had to catch back up. Another top four for the team is good. We have been pretty consistent, but it isn’t quite what we want.”