Michael Shank has been pleased with Continental Tire’s new-for-2017 Prototype tire, which is testing Wednesday at Road Atlanta, ahead of its debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
The Ohio-based team is taking part in a single-day test, organized by the tire manufacturer, with Ozz Negri at the wheel of a HPD ARX-04b, following the car’s most recent outing at Sebring in April.
CORE autosport is also at Road Atlanta, understood to be testing the 2017 tire. The LMP2/DPi tire is slightly taller (680 mm diameter) per the new ACO/FIA/IMSA LMP2 regulations, and features further developments.
“It’s a positive direction,” Shank told Sportscar365. “I’m very happy to see that. [Continental] is making gains and have listened to us in what we thought we were maybe missing, especially compared to after running Le Mans this year, some things that would help everybody here.
“There’s more there for sure. After lunch today, we’ll do some long runs. But for a first run, I’m very happy.”
The test has also marks the second time the team has run the HPD ARX-04b, which Shank has also seen significant gains made since April, mainly in weight distribution and balance.
The updated aero package, which Shank evaluated at Sebring, has remained unchanged.
“I just can’t tell you how much better the 04b is now,” Shank said. “It’s really, really good and I’m really pleased.
“We did a test with it at Sebring just for Wirth and HPD after they updated it. They went away and we got to work with it for a couple of runs on the 2016 tire. It’s right where it should be.
“It’s equal conditions, [compared] to when we tested here last July with the Ligier. It’s cool to see. That car took a lot of heat in ’15 early on, and they’ve stepped up and have made gains on it. It’s really cool.”
Shank said the decision to utilize the 04b for the tire testing was to have it as close to 2017-spec as possible, as the new cars from ORECA, Onroak Automotive, Riley-Multimatic and Dallara will not be on track until next month at the earliest.
“I think it will allow them to go back and make some really solid decisions for that tire before it gets on a 2017 car,” he said.
“We had to try something to try the ‘big’ tire and this is the perfect car to do it with, to take the big chunks out of the learning and be ready with the 2017 cars are ready to hit the track, to be able to hit it pretty hard.”
The team’s 2017 plans are still to-be-announced, although Shank downplayed the possibility of continuing with its Ligier JS P2 Honda, or even making a switch to the HPD ARX-04b given its expected performance deficit to the new prototypes.
Shank has been linked to running the new Acura NSX GT3 in the GT Daytona class, although the manufacturer has yet to formally announce its North American program.