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Big Win for Michael Shank Racing at Petit Le Mans

4 months ago
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Fireworks replaced rain one year later for Petit Le Mans as the stars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes duked it for the final time in 2016, Michael Shank Racing coming out the victor. In Prototype Challenge, the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team of Robert Alon, Tom Kimber-Smith and Jose Gutierrez endured through the day to take home a class win.

img_3153Forced to overcome problems with the left rear tire, the No. 60 was the class of the field. Pla led the field to the green and immediately went to work setting the fastest lap of the race in the Honda-powered Ligier. The team did have their work cut out for them as a lap was lost early on during Jon Pew’s stint in the car.

When the No. 60 wasn’t out front, it was an inter-team fight for the race win and championship between the Nos. 31 and 5 Action Express Racing Daytona Prototypes. The championship-leading No. 31 led much of the second hour by the hands of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, all the while being chased by the second-placed (race and championship) No. 5 with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi piloting.

The first of five yellows came out in the second hour for the beached No. 20 LMPC machine of Tony Drissi.

Turning the tide of the championship, the Filipe Albuquerque suffered a punctured tire in the sixth hour. The Portugese driver was able to limp the No. 5 Corvette DP back to pit lane with minimal damage, but fell off the lead lap. He went on to finish fourth in the race, the team’s ninth top five of the season, with the team finishing runner up in the championship.

The LMPC field suffered the worst from attrition with the aging Oreca FLM09. Only two entries remained on the lead lap at the checkered, with Kimber-Smith leading the No. 38 machine of James French. French’s team mates, Kenton Koch and Kyle Marcelli ran near the front all race long, even leading in the fourth hour of the race.

The final podium spot in LMPC went to JDC Miller Motorsport’s No. 85 entry of Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg, and Chris Miller. The team ran close with the No. 52 and 38 machines, but experienced issues that lost them the lead lap.

The No. 20 was involved in another caution, the fourth break of the day when Johnny Mowlem made contact with the No. 911 Porsche driven by Nick Tandy.

Pippo Derani’s late-race charge scored a second place finish for Tequila Patron ESM. Though sporting the same engine-chassis combo, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek, and Derani were not able to match the pace of the race-winning Ligier. Pla had two large bobbles, resulting in off-track excursion, but they weren’t enough to take the win away from MSR.

A huge fire from the back of the No. 70 Mazda Prototype interrupted green flag action for the final yellow of the race. Joel Miller was able to escape from the burning prototype, while IMSA elected to throw a quickie yellow to set the field for a final restart. The incident gave the Wayne Taylor Racing Daytona Prototype the final spot on the podium with Jordan and Ricky Taylor alongside Max Angelelli.

The race resumed with less than 10 minutes left on the clock. The restart erased Pla’s lead, but Derani had nothing for the MSR entry resulting in a gap of 3.524 for the race win.

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