Ozz Negri is pleased with the progress his Michael Shank Racing team has made with the brand new Acura NSX GT3 through four races and expects to see commensurate results in the races to come.
Negri and co-driver Jeff Segal sit seventh in the highly-competitive GT Daytona class points standings following the last round at Circuit of The Americas, which Negri said was due to the amount of work the team has put into the program.
“The team has been working absolutely non-stop,” Negri told Sportscar365.
“Every time we go on the track we learn something different, and we attack what we learn and make it better. The car is definitely coming along.
“One thing that you have to realize is we had Daytona, which is a unique track and a 24-hour race. Then we had Sebring, which is totally the opposite. It’s a bumpy track and a 12-hour race.
“Then race three was the streets of Long Beach, another different track. We only had a chance to test right after Long Beach. Then we went to COTA, which is the first ‘proper track’.
“If you think about it, we’ve been learning this car and improving it with time during race weekends, and that is not ideal.
“We need to go to tracks, spend time, and do changes and have longer time to do changes. I can tell you, I really think the team has done incredible work making the car improve as it is right now.”
Negri said the team feels better prepared for this weekend’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit because they were able to take lessons learned at Long Beach and apply them to this street circuit.
“This is the first track that we go back that we can relate to from something we experienced at Long Beach,” he said.”
“I’m hoping the car can be quite a lot better than it was at Long Beach, and at Long Beach the car was good. We were running sixth until the last corner.
“It’s just the way the schedule had been, but we’re making gains. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll get there.”
Negri said it’s not possible to pinpoint one major area of growth with the car, saying the progress has been universal.
“[It’s] the package as a whole,” he said. “I cannot say just one point, just one piece of the car. It’s just the package.
“The brakes are a lot better. The spring combinations are better. I think we have front and rear a lot more in sync compared to where we started.
“You start to learn about aero balance and how much aero you need to run to not have pitch sensitivity. Like I said, it’s a combination of a bunch of things because we’ve never been to the track to test and worked only on suspension, or only on aero.
“We come to the race track, and you’re trying to do miracles in an hour session or hour and a half session. You’re trying to change a spring, and you can’t. It would take 20 minutes to change springs.
“But like I said, the engineers have been working really hard and have been learning the car, and all the changes now are a lot more based on data rather than just trying things.”
As much as there was for the team to learn, Negri added that the adjustment for him to learn a new type of car after years in the prototype ranks was even greater.
“As a driver, it was very different,” he said. “I’m coming from carbon brakes, lighter car, a lot of aero, and brakes without the ABS.
“To me, that’s the biggest thing. The ABS that I’m used to is my feet, and it helps you make the car do what you want it to do with the pedals. With this, it’s not that easy.
“Traffic too, I’m used to passing them and now I’m driving and looking in the mirrors quite a lot more.
“I can tell you that I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would.
“I love my teammates, both [Jeff] Segal and Katherine [Legge] and Andy [Lally] on the other car, we’re like brothers and sisters.
“It’s a good atmosphere. We help each other, there’s no ego, and that makes it so much easier.”