Michael Shank has been pleased with the progress made on the opening day of testing at Daytona International Speedway with the new Acura NSX GT3 cars, as the longtime Prototype entrant makes the transition to the GT Daytona class for 2017.
The Ohio-based squad has joined forces with RealTime Racing for this week’s IMSA-sanctioned test, with RealTime running the No. 86 car and Shank’s crew operating the No. 93 Acura, the team’s first of two race chassis.
“I’m feeling pressure to be out there running laps,” Shank told Sportscar365. “But we’re getting done what we wanted to get done.
“The morning went a little bit better than I was hoping it would. That’s good.”
Both cars have been running to different programs, with the No. 86 car, which has been the Acura test car seen in recent Pirelli World Challenge events, focused on long runs, and the No. 93 car delegated to setup work.
All four full-season drivers: Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, Jeff Segal and Ozz Negri, as well as recently announced Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup pilots Mark Wilkins and Tom Dyer had time in the cars on Tuesday.
Shank said the final driver pairings have yet to be determined and will depend on a combination of factors, including driver ratings, chemistry and driver size.
Five of the seven drivers in the Acura lineup are currently Silver-rated by the FIA, with the initial 2017 list due out later this week.
“It’s hard to say right now,” Shank said on the driver pairings. “I’m definitely waiting on [finalized driver ratings], but also the symbiosis. I just want to see how they work together.
“It’s been really good and I don’t think it will really matter [either way]. Let’s see what happens.
“The endurance guys and the other guys we’ll have come in [for the Rolex 24], we’ll see how that goes. Where we put them and who.
“It could be a sizing thing potentially, just to stack in the driver changes correctly.”
Shank said he hopes to finalize the final two Rolex 24-only drivers by next month, which is widely believed to be Honda IndyCar pilots.
As far as the team’s transition to the factory-backed GTD effort, Shank said he’s added six full-time people, as well as three additional fly-ins for the two-car program. It’s included the appointment of Tim Keene as director of operations.
The biggest adjustment, however, he said, comes with the the differences in the car’s adjustability.
“Compared to the prototype cars, which are made for changes, this thing is a [based from a] street car, so you have to fight for the changes. We’re getting used to it,” Shank said.
“That process, how we change camber and springs and toe, will become easier and clearer and faster as we move forward.”
The team has a number of “static tests” planned over the next month, including seven-post shaker rigs as well as IMSA’s mandatory wind tunnel testing, prior to returning to Daytona in December for the second official test, with both of the same cars present here.
Shank said he expects to take delivery of his second race chassis after the Dec. 13-14 test.