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Aschenbach, Marks Among Additions in MSR Acura GTD Lineup

Aschenbach, Marks, Parente join Michael Shank Racing for 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Michael Shank Racing has confirmed its return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a revised two-car lineup, featuring new additions Lawson Aschenbach, Justin Marks and Alvaro Parente joining Katherine Legge at the wheel of the pair of Acura NSX GT3 cars.

Aschenbach and Marks will take on a full-season campaign in the No. 93 car, with the Legge and Parente-driven No. 86 car confirmed for only the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races next year.

Mario Farnbacher and AJ Allmendinger, meanwhile, will join the No. 93 pairing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with additional endurance drivers for the No. 86 yet to be announced.

The Ohio-based team transitions into a full customer effort next year, after a single year of factory backing in the car’s first season.

“We learned so much with this program last year and I was very proud to represent Acura and bring home a pair of wins with the NSX in its first season,” said team owner Michael Shank.

“The NSX is phenomenal and we want to build on what we’ve learned so far. I’m very pleased to have two big talents in Justin and Lawson come on board—their records speak for themselves.

“Having the second entry for the long races and maybe some additional events will also be a boost for the program, between what Katherine already knows about this car from last year and having a guy like Alvaro join us, that will be a second bullet for us in the long races. And people are going to love how these cars are going to look.”

Aschenbach makes the move from the now-defunct Stevenson Motorsports operation, with Marks having driven for Turner Motorsport in selected races this year, also in GTD.

Parente, the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT champion, is a McLaren GT factory driver. 

“I’m extremely excited to be joining Michael Shank Racing in 2018,” Aschenbach said. “This team has the professionalism and dedication needed for success. From top to bottom you can see that everyone has a common goal, and that is to win.

“It’s going to be fun teaming up with my buddy Justin Marks. He’s a great friend and we are both excited to be pushing for podiums and wins.”

Marks added: “Even focusing the past years of my career in NASCAR, I’ve always felt that a return to full time endurance sports car racing was a goal.

“To make that return with a team like MSR is really special. I have a lot of respect for Michael and everything he’s accomplished. It’s a very cohesive, dedicated, classy group of talented individuals.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Kyle

    December 8, 2017 at 11:31 am

    These lineups are stacked, and still two drivers TBD. Wow.

    *Something about driver ratings*

  2. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    December 8, 2017 at 11:50 am

    With K-Pax/Flying Lizards switching from Mclaren I wonder if Parente will get to drive in PWC this year as well.

  3. tracer

    December 8, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Very interesting lineups in both cars, with Parente being a complete out of left field surprise. My assumption is that McLaren is just loaning him out as there’s no conflict with them not competing in GTD.

    Unfortunately, not too surprising to see the program reduced to one full time car, one TPNAEC+ entry. Given the GTD budgets required for the enduros alone, its got to be a good deal more difficult to pull together the funding to run the full calendar. The one full, one TPNAEC model seems logical, and I’d rather see them pare back slightly than overextend by running 2 cars only to be back with one or no cars in 2019 (as we’ve recently seen with Stevenson and Turner).

    • N8

      December 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      A well funded silver would help and I assume Katherine doesn’t bring money. Someone like DHH would have made this 2 full season entries.

    • jason

      December 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Could help budgets if GTD was dropped from Laguna Seca in 2018. Could also move GTD to their own 1 hr 40 min race at Mid Ohio and CTMP. Almost 5 hours of race time, plus major travel out west saved.

      If you do move Laguna then GTD won’t have to go out west at all in 2018 since Long Beach is already out. So again that points out the major costs savings. IMSA still has time to make this decision.

  4. jason

    December 8, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Alvardo Parente. Wow. That is a coup. One of the best GT drivers on the planet.

  5. jason

    December 8, 2017 at 11:56 am

    If nothing else I hope they can get the #86 Acura to run the GT only races at Lime Rock and VIR in addition to the TPNAEC.

    • tracer

      December 8, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Agreed. 🤞

  6. Mike S.

    December 8, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    So Mclaren just lets Parente drive an Acura huh? Well PWCs loss is IMSAs gain. Awesome. Get off the West Coast. The East Coast has enough racing well more than out west. If costs were an issue then why did IMSA move Monterey from just after Long Beach to fall now again? Costs are an issue though for sure. The champion GTD amateur isn’t to be seen which is a shame ask Cooper with his bags of money who won out.

    • StueyB83

      December 8, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Not 100% sure Parente is still on the McLaren retainer.

      Considering this is a down year for them. They signed Bell for development, have Ledogar on the books – and a raft of youngin’s.

      Parente might be a champ but maybe hes out shopping?

  7. Jeff Wagner

    December 8, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Two DESERVING well above average drivers for the full time car, great to see! Where NOW are the K. Legge zealots that were boasting how incredible and amazing She was and so deserving of a seat in the Penske Acura? #AVERAGE. Yet they don’t pay ANY attention to Christina Neilsen’s abilities, or accomplishments? #WOW!

    • Binky

      December 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Don’t care about the silly Legge/Nielsen comparison, but this is one of the most obnoxiously written comments I’ve ever seen on this site. Quite the accomplishment. Bravo, I guess?

      At least spell your preferred driver’s name right.

      • thomas

        December 9, 2017 at 5:03 am

        word.

      • Eric

        December 9, 2017 at 8:34 am

        I wish we had a thumb up button here for this post.

  8. Jeff Wagner

    December 9, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Wait a second, there they are!

  9. Mike S.

    December 10, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Glad Aschenbach got picked up. He’s been able to drive a lot of different machinery at different levels. Also a return to the Acura/Honda family that he was in previously.

  10. David Chaste

    December 10, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    So Oreca with all the money Acura is spending on the DPi program, and Oreca in all its might could not make the front end of the Oreca 07 resemble the front end of these beautiful NSXs.

    The Acura DPi has the worst design of all of them. Hopefully its performance make it very likeable.

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