With higher-than-expected costs to upgrade existing Daytona Prototype machinery, Michael Shank Racing will focus its efforts on a single Riley-Ford entry in next year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Speaking with Sportscar365 Monday at Daytona International Speedway, team owner Mike Shank confirmed their decision to scale back to a one-car operation, which will likely see the return of Ozz Negri and John Pew as full-season drivers.
Both will be turning laps in the newly upgraded Ford EcoBoost-powered DP this week at DIS, part of official TUDOR Championship pre-season testing.
“We’re going to focus on getting [the No. 60] car really good and see what happens,” Shank said. “I think [teams] are having an initial scare right now. It’s going to be great once we get everything figured out. Until that time comes, it’s going to be a little bit sparse.”
While the DP/P2 technical regulations have yet to be finalized, Shank says the expected investment to make DP cars competitive is too large of a gamble to make unless they have guaranteed funding in place.
“It’s a weird deal. I can’t just do a one-off and financially make it because of the additional costs to get the car to where the [updated] one is right now,” he said.
“Everything, all in with spares, is a substantial investment from my part. I want to have it sitting there but I don’t want to take a loan out to have it just sitting there. If I built it, will they come? Maybe. But I don’t know.”
The team’s updated Riley-Ford, complete with IMSA’s proposed diffuser, tunnels and dual element rear wing, will run for the first time on Tuesday. Shank said he expects the car to have carbon brakes installed for a private test, hosted by Riley Technologies, at DIS next month.
It’s a separate chassis that was run here last month as part of a Ford event, which saw the MSR-run EcoBoost-powered DP smash a 26-year track record held by Bill Elliott.
“We’re just going to try and make the thing upshift, downshift and go around in a circle,” Shank said in regards to the goals for tomorrow’s test.
“It is so entirely different and nothing even like the [Ford EcoBoost Daytona lap record] car we’ve had here. We changed our intercoolers, ducting and routing, exhaust.
“This is another version of that. There’s so many integrations. We’re just trying to make the the thing go right now. We’re anticipating a lot of little teething things here.”
Confirmation of a reduced effort for MSR brings the confirmed number of full-season DP entrants to six.
An additional four P2 cars have already been announced, with at least two more expected, which should result in a Prototype field of no fewer than a dozen entries for 2014.