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MSR Planning 2018 GTD Return With Acura

Michael Shank Racing planning return with Acura NSX GT3 cars…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Despite losing its factory backing at the end of the season, Michael Shank Racing has reaffirmed plans to be on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship grid next year, fielding up to two Acura NSX GT3 cars.

The Ohio-based team, which currently sits fourth in the GT Daytona title race, will revert to a privateer effort in 2018, with team boss Mike Shank currently in the process of securing funded drivers for the program.

“Since we have to change the way we operate next year, we’re going to look at Silver drivers that have some sponsorship in place to keep it going,” Shank told Sportscar365.

“I have some of my own sponsors in place for next year already; it’s part of a bigger deal I’m working on to cover a couple of different series. The Silvers have to bring some funding.

“Together we can try to make two cars work. That’s the goal, to try to get two cars.”

Shank said he plans to test prospective Silver-rated drivers in October or November to determine the lineup, which could include a mix of its existing drivers.

Despite being part of the factory program, Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, Ozz Negri and Jeff Segal are all employed directly by MSR, according to Shank.

“Their contract ends after Petit [Le Mans], so they’ll all fighting for jobs after that,” he said.

“The Lexus guys should be in the same boat. We intend to abide [by] what IMSA wants and that’s what we’re doing.”

Some of the visible changes for 2018 will include independent sponsorship, fewer embedded Acura and HPD engineers, as well as Shank needing to purchase the cars from the manufacturer.

Having already received a “really good” response from funded drivers, the longtime sports car racing team owner is optimistic on building on their maiden season in GTD, which has delivered a pair of class wins.

He also believes there’s still more potential to be unlocked with the Acura.

“I think the best news is that we definitely have a package that can win,” Shank said.

“Nothing’s changing on our side of the equation, being the crew, the engineer and all that is staying put. We’ll have two really good Golds in the cars.

“The biggest thing is to keep my relationship with Acura, even though they’re not a factory program [in GTD], there will still be a big presence around here because they want to make sure their product is good. We’ll keep working on it.

“My goal is to keep the momentum going. If we would have started where we’re at now, we would really had something.”

While his primary focus remains in the continuation of the GTD program, Shank said he’s also working on options in the open-wheel world, namely a return to the Indianapolis 500 after making his team debut this year, in association with Andretti Autosport.

A move back to the Prototype ranks in the WeatherTech Championship, meanwhile, has been ruled out for the short-term.

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

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. southcove

    August 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    I was trying to figure this out, like with the Lexus deal, until I read it more closely and put the facts together/remembered a bit on how factory run teams in GTD are on a short leash after rolling out the new chassis or race effort.

    Good deal, I hope we see some of these cars and drivers again in 2018. Lexus too.

    Are there any new GTD efforts coming on line in 2018?

    • Crossmai'n

      August 28, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      There is a rumored racing return for the HART team, and to bring a Acura NSX fro next year as well.

    • Overtake24

      August 28, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      I think ESM might field a GTD car next year.

    • Max

      August 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Like every year Nissan is “about to bring a GTR into the series” with $TOP_INDYCAR_TEAM_OF_THE_MOMENT or ESM. We’ll see what happens.

      • thomas

        August 29, 2017 at 11:25 am

        This isn’t the usual Nissan stuff. This is Ed Brown talking about running a TPNAEC GTD car for himself now that he’s retired from prototypes

  2. Boper

    August 28, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Really glad IMSA is sticking to its guns regarding works team in a Pro-Am category. Shows they’ve got more guts than SRO when dealing with factory teams.

    • StueyB83

      August 28, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      Because SRO has been actively shifting to be the go-to series for Pro level GT3 racing since the death of GT1.

  3. Amlv20

    August 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Good go back to privateers like gtd is supposed to be.tired of watching Lexus and Acura factory teams having gtlm style crash fests every race,and these drivers are supposed to be pro’s?…….

    • Steven

      August 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Personally, I’d rather see the GTLM class get dumped. GT3 then can be sped up and you can split the classes as Pro and Pro/Am just like in the Blaincpain. The only team that loses out in the loss is Ford but they are quitting in 2 years anyway.

      • tracer

        August 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm

        Dump GTLM? 🤦‍♂️

        • Steven

          August 28, 2017 at 5:46 pm

          Considering There is Audi, Lambo, Porsche, Mercedes, Lexus, Acura, Jaguar, Ferrari, BMW, Bentley, Nissan, McLaren, and Aston Martin that all have registered GT3’s. Why not? The Corvette wouldn’t be hard to convert into a GT3 just like how it went from GT1 to GT2 spec.

          GTLM is never gonna have new manufacturers join in because of costs, just like in LMP1.

          • Andrew

            August 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm

            Corvette can’t go to GT3 with Pratt and Miller until the re-homologate the car. Callaway is the GT3, they can’t run in the US by their contract but I believe the FIA only let one chassis be GT3 certified at a time so GM can’t make a new one through Pratt and Miller until the Callaway car is gone. Course they could make an IMSA only GTD car but that’s doubtful until new rules come around and they have to AND (this is the important part) GT3s can run at LM. No LM racing and Corvette isn’t going there.

      • Matt

        August 28, 2017 at 9:38 pm

        I like having the car diversity that GTLM brings. Seeing GT3 cars race in every single series eventually gets pretty boring, considering how muffled and quiet they are comparitively. GTLM cars are way more exciting to watch and sound amazing (besides the BMW’s).

        • Matt as well

          August 29, 2017 at 2:21 am

          No way boring!
          GT3 all the way!

  4. Andy Flinn

    August 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Andrew, the last four years has also demonstrated that GM is simply not interested in building GT3 (GTD) cars. They’re even less interested in selling GT3 cars to customers.

    GM was also one of the lead players in the global GT convergence talks, until that fell apart.

    • Andrew

      August 28, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      So the Caddy GT3 is a mirage? Yes it is a full GT3 car, no longer a PWC special. GM doesn’t build cars for sale yes, but the rules only request cars be available. They don’t say they MUST be for sale and the FIA were clear about that last spring in homologating the Caddy, Lexus and Acura none of which were on offer at the fall initial submission.

      As for Corvette, if GTE became GT3 next week there would be a GT3 Corvette built before next Friday so they could run at LM. If you don’t believe that you’re foolish or delusional. LM is their reason for racing and whatever it takes to run at Circuit de la Sarthe is whay will be built.

      • ohgoodgrief

        August 29, 2017 at 10:25 pm

        Geez Andrew, he means CUSTOMER cars and NO, they couldn’t go racing next week with a GT3 Corvette for reasons already explained BY YOU/

        Wow.

  5. jason

    August 29, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I think GTLM/GTE has a very good future for the rest of the decade at least. I think GTLM in its current form will stay until 2020 at least. Perhaps by then it falls off a little after the assumed Ford exit. Then GTLM can be changed to use GT3 cars but with all pro drivers, open tires, and less restrictive BoP. Depends on what the ACO decides to do with GTE as the new decade approaches too perhaps.

    As far as MSR goes. I thought they had the cars already and part of being the factory team is that they did not have to purchase the cars. Just assume the operating costs in 2018?

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