Hard work throughout a difficult weekend at Road America netted the Michael Shank Racing team and Acura little reward, as both cars were forced to retire from the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.
Variable weather conditions throughout the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend – including sporadic rain showers Friday and Saturday – challenged the team, coupled with a crash by Katherine Legge during Saturday morning's final practice session. Although repairs to Legge's No.93 Acura were completed Saturday evening, the car would start at the rear of the 15-car GTD field after missing qualifying.
Starting sixth with Oswaldo "Ozz" Negri at the controls, the No.86 MSR Acura was slowed by traffic at the green flag, but then made up three positions on the restart after the first caution period to run fifth. Extremely quick work from the MSR team during the first scheduled pit stop saw co-driver Jeff Segal resume in second place, and the duo appeared headed for its first podium finish of 2017.
But a pair of flat left-rear tires, the first coming just before the mid-point in the two hour, 40-minute race, and the second with less than an hour remaining, resulted in the MSR team retiring the No.86 Acura and an unrepresentative 14th-place finish.
Legge made up three positions on the opening lap alone, and soon caught up with a group of a half-dozen GTD entries running nose-to-tail, including her teammate, Negri. However, Legge was hit from behind by another GTD car entering Turn 8, spinning and briefly stalling before resuming. Legge soon pitted with right rear suspension damage, which required more than 20 minutes to repair.
Co-driver Andy Lally took over the driving duties with just under an hour remaining, attempting to salvage as many championship points as possible. However, he spun off course exiting Turn 1 with 25 minutes remaining, making hard contact with the inside wall and ending the race for the No.93 NSX GT3.
As a result, Acura dropped one position in the GTD Manufacturers' Championship, to fourth, but remains just two points out of third, and only nine points out of the series lead with three races remaining.
The summer run of WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races continues in three weeks, as the series moves to another classic road course for Round 10, the August 27 Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.
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