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SHANK: Journey to Le Mans, Pt. 2

Michael Shank’s latest column on his team’s journey to Le Mans…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

It’s been busy, busy times around MSR Inc.

Our team does something every day to get prepared for Le Mans. In my mind if we don’t work on it every day, we’ll fall behind.

Even though we won’t be in France for another nine weeks, we have to arrange hotels, flights, rental cars, train tickets, hospitality arrangements, entry fees, and the list goes on and on.

One of the unique rules that the ACO asks for is that every rookie driver in the LM24 has to do a day of simulator work on the official ACO simulator in Paris.

So getting John Pew and Ozz Negri scheduled for this took a couple of days.

This step is very important for new drivers in the World Endurance Championship and the LM24 specifically.

The folks at the sim throw many real world situations at the driver that are very unique to the LM24 – like slow zones and split full course yellows with multiple pace cars on track at one time.

Additionally, as many people know, the pitting rules for the ACO are much different than here in the United States.

We have to turn the car off and cannot fuel and change tires at the same time. Some other interesting rules include not being allowed to spin the tires while leaving the pit box. All of this combined makes for a very new experience for us.

When we first looked at doing the LM24 project we thought it was a good idea to do the WEC race at Spa in the beginning of May.

After looking at it long and hard we decided to do a three-day test at Monza instead.

Our partner Onroak could have fully supported the Spa race but from the financial side, the Monza test made much more sense. So all of us on the team are really looking forward to going to Italy and experiencing Monza.

This test will allow the team and drivers to get used to the Ligier/HPD/Dunlop package in LM24 aero configuration.

One of our challenges is the amount of time it takes to do this project.

By the time we leave for the Monza test on May 21, we will be in Europe for 32 days once the LM24 is complete.

Preparing our team to be away from their families for that long is a real consideration.

We do not take lightly the toll that this kind of schedule takes on the entire unit that makes up Michael Shank Racing.

We plan on visiting Normandy on a couple days of our days off and a couple of the guys will have their wives come and visit as well.

One of the real advantages of doing a partnership with OAK Racing for LM24 is that we will be able to completely prepare our U.S.-based Ligier for the Six Hours of The Glen before we leave for Le Mans.

Our current plan calls for us to have the car done and loaded by May 20th before we head to Monza. When we return from LM24 the team will get a well deserved week off.

Check back here soon for another update on our Road to Le Mans.

Michael Shank (@MichaelShankRac) is an open-wheel driver turned sports car racing team owner, fielding a Ligier JS P2 Honda in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as well as making his team debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016.

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