Michael Shank Racing Gets Head Start on 2011 with Continental Tire Test at VIR DANVILLE, VA (21 October 2010)-Michael Shank Racing took to the track this week as GRAND-AM staged a two-day test at Virginia International Raceway with the Rolex ...
Michael Shank Racing Gets Head Start on 2011 with Continental Tire Test at VIR
DANVILLE, VA (21 October 2010)-Michael Shank Racing took to the track this week as GRAND-AM staged a two-day test at Virginia International Raceway with the Rolex Sports Car Series drivers and teams invited to the first open test with the new Continental Tires that will be deployed on every Daytona Prototype and GT Class machine starting with the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona. John Pew and Ozz Negri were back in action with the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley for the team.
The 3.21-mile natural terrain road circuit in rural Virginia was recently announced as the fourth round (May 13-4) of the 2011 Rolex Sports Car Series championship as the Bosch 250 event, which in 2010 featured its largest crowd to date for the Rolex race.
"It was good for us to get to work on running with this new Continental Tire not only for when we come back here in May, but especially for the 24," said team owner Mike Shank. "We had the opportunity to test the Continental Tires earlier this year, so it was good to see how that feedback continued to be applied and the progress that's been made, as the Continental guys have been working non stop for 2011."
"We still have a lot to learn with the new tire, so it was great to get some laps in and experience them first hand," said Pew, who scored 2nd at Virginia International Raceway in 2009 for Michael Shank Racing. "The primary impression was that they were much more forgiving at the limit than I was expecting, so that was encouraging for next year. I'm looking forward to the test at Homestead for us to keep generating new data. That is going to be a good place for us to experience the tire in warmer conditions on some more aggressive track surfaces to keep learning about what the tire likes from a set-up point of view to get the most pace that we can over a full stint."
The test wasn't just about preparing for the 2011 on-track season, as the drivers were also put to work in a different role as GRAND-AM was filming commercials during the event, with Pew and Negri trying to hit their marks off the track as well as they do on it.
"That as a little bit of fun for me and John to do," offered Ozz Negri, who also did some time in front of the cameras as SPEED was on site to report about the new tire package. "We've been in some of the GRAND AM spots in the past, and it is great to see the series working to promote the teams and the drivers like they have been. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next year, and not just because of me and John being in it!"
While a lot of attention was appropriately focused on the new tire, there were several other elements seeing some track time as GRAND-AM works on new developments for the future. Among those was the paddle shifting system that the series is considering putting to use in the Daytona Prototype ranks that deploy a Pro-Am driver line up. To help with the evaluation process, Michael Shank Racing was asked to take to the track with the bespoke system to generate data and work on the integration process.
"It was fun," smiled Negri, who has thousands of testing miles under his belt as an official factory driver for the Formula BMW program as well as for the Skip Barber Pro Series. "We were working through some normal teething problems early on of course, but it went very well for the first time to be on track with it. We will see what happens next but it was a good chance for us to get those guys some information about the system."
The testing will continue in just over one months time as Homestead Miami Speedway will play host to both the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the Rolex Sports Car Series runners November 30-December 2.