Meyer Shank Racing’s drivers and crew were left smiling following a successful first test with its Acura ARX-05 at Daytona International Speedway earlier this week.
The Ohio-based team took to the Florida high banks for two days of running, which saw both Olivier Pla and AJ Allmendinger turn their first laps in the ORECA-built DPi contender.
They were joined by Honda Performance Development factory driver Dane Cameron, who will join Pla as full-season drivers in the No. 60 car in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
“It was absolutely the right decision for us to do this test,” said team co-owner Mike Shank.
“The two days that we were in Daytona were all about learning the car and getting the drivers and engineers comfortable and familiar with it.
“Having Dane here has been a great resource for everyone since he has three years of experience with the car. He has really set the tone this week and he fits in great with the team.”
Cameron, the 2019 IMSA DPi champion with Acura Team Penske, praised the MSR crew, which received its first chassis less than three weeks ago, in the quick turnaround.
“We more or less went through everything and we covered a lot of ground,” he said. “Balance-wise, everything was good and close to where we needed to be.
“We did some good procedural exercises to lay the groundwork for what will be a hectic Roar with the qualifying race.
“The test has been a good chance for everyone to get in the car.
“AJ did a really great job and got up to speed real quick. I’ve been enjoying putting the teacher hat on and it’s accelerated the process for us for sure.”
Pla, who had previous DPi experience with both the Nissan Onroak DPi and Mazda RT24-P, said that getting used to the Acura DPi’s traction control and braking was his biggest focus.
“It was a very positive test and it all went very well considering it was the first time the team has run the car,” said the Frenchman.
“We were able to run some laps to understand the car and get comfortable with it, and things like making sure the seat fits.
“The Acura wasn’t too different from what I am used to. We used the test to learn all of the systems, buttons and strategy so that when the engineer tells you to change something you know how to do it.”
While set to make his 15th Rolex 24 start with the team in January, Allmendinger was left impressed by the capabilities of the car in his first experience of a DPi altogether.
“The first run for me was almost like re-living the first time that I got in a Champ Car,” he said.
“The first time I hit the throttle it shoved me back in my seat and it was then that I realized how quick the car really was.
“The braking and the downforce took me some time to get used to. You brake so late, that you have to just trust the grip that the car has and that it is going to stick.
“It’s really a proper race car that you can attack the corners with.
“You can’t really compare the car to the last Prototype I drove because that was four years ago. It’s just such a big difference in speed.”