Michael Shank Racing has formally confirmed its entry for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a Ligier JS P2 Honda and the appointment of Laurens Vanthoor alongside full-season co-drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew.
As Sportscar365 was first to report in December upon the ACO’s release of the 2016 sporting regulations, Shank’s entry was confirmed as one of two IMSA entries for this year’s race from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
It will mark the debuts for both Negri and Pew while Vanthoor, who was a rookie last year, will return for a second go-around in the same chassis and engine combination as he did last year with OAK Racing.
Vanthoor is on-site in Daytona for the team’s formal reveal of its Le Mans program, although the Audi GT factory driver is not driving in either the Roar Before the 24 or Rolex 24 at Daytona itself.
“I’m more than excited to join Michael Shank Racing for Le Mans,” Vanthoor said. “Racing at Le Mans is a goal for every driver and especially for me, with my links to Audi, it’s a dream to be successful at Le Mans.
“Racing for the second time with the same package as the first time is definitely an advantage. I know what to expect and that puts me some steps ahead. I think Michael Shank Racing has big potential.”
Shank will utilize an Onroak Automotive-owned chassis with Dunlop tires for its Le Mans debut, leaving its U.S.-based chassis Stateside to focus on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
“This is a big announcement and a big project for my entire organization,” Shank said. “It is one of the great things about our sport – we can compete on a world level and this give us a shot to be able to do that.
“This collaboration with Onroak is a very big part of our ability to do this, and of course getting the invitation from the ACO is crucial, so we appreciate IMSA having the relationship with the organizers that they do.”
Scuderia Corsa received the second auto-invite from IMSA, with Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell set to pilot the team’s Ferrari 458 Italia in GTE-Am.