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Shank “Befuddled” at MSR Missing Out on LM24 Selection

Michael Shank “disappointed” after MSR loses out on 24H Le Mans selection…

Photo: Michael Levitt/IMSA

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Michael Shank says he was “befuddled” upon learning that his team missed out on being selected for a confirmed entry into this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

MSR had applied to enter an Oreca 07 Gibson into the LMP2 class with an all-female driver lineup but it was not named on the final 60-car list issued last week.

Instead, the team’s entry was placed ninth on the ten-car reserve list, meaning it’s now unlikely that the Caterpillar-sponsored Oreca will take part.

Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz and two-time IMSA GTD champion Christina Nielsen were due to share driving duties of the LMP2 entry, which was to be run in conjunction with Algarve Pro Racing.

“It’s really unfortunate and I do feel that we were slighted a little bit,” Shank told Sportscar365.

“I think that’s natural when you’re turned down for something [when] the driver lineup is more experienced, more well-known, more accomplished… The sponsor I have is second to none, across WEC and IMSA.

“That kind of thing just befuddles me on how that can get overlooked. So I struggle with that.

“I understand politics and I understand that when it’s your time, it’s your time. But it’s pretty disappointing.”

Shank added that it “didn’t feel great” to be “buried” near the bottom of the reserve list as the seventh backup LMP2 entry.

“I just thought it would feel better,” he said. “I thought we would have a much better chance than it turned out.

“And not only did we not have a chance – they buried us on the reserve list to make sure that we don’t come to the light.

“That didn’t feel great. I have tons of respect for Le Mans, what it is, how tough it is. I agree and I get it. I’m just disappointed really. We’re moving on already.”

Shank has not given up on competing at Le Mans through the selection process, after the MSR team used its Jim Trueman Award invitation from IMSA to make its debut in the 2016 edition with a Ligier JS P2 Honda.

On that occasion, its crew of John Pew, Oswaldo Negri Jr and current Porsche GT factory driver Laurens Vanthoor came through to finish ninth in class and 14th overall.

“I want to be able to go [back] to Le Mans in my lifetime,” said Shank.

“I’d like to be able to go there when it’s on invite, not auto-invite. I like to think that we’re a good enough team with a respectable enough effort that we deserve to be there.”

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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