Honda's new team won't be named until Friday, but expect MSR to switch from Ford.
The press conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis takes place at the Honda booth, and this is the description: “Announcing the addition of a new team to HPD's TUDOR United SportsCar Championship program for 2015.”
Who will it be?
The smart money is on Michael Shank Racing, the Columbus, Ohio-based team that has been a loyal Ford customer. But now with Chip Ganassi Racing seemingly set at Ford’s main team, it seems likely that it will be the one to switch to Honda.
But it probably won’t come at the season-opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. In a press release, the team has already said it will “utilize the familiar Riley/EcoBoost Daytona Prototype combination for the season-opening 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona, as Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian pursues a second victory in the prestigious endurance race. The organization won the 2012 event with Pew and Negri who were joined by A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson.”
But for the second round of the TUDOR Championship, at Sebring International Raceway, we will “see the Shank squad arrive with a new technical package, moving to the Ligier JS P2 Prototype. The closed-cockpit Prototype was constructed by Onroak Automotive, making its competition debut in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans before winning the Six Hours of Fuji in October and the Six Hours of Shanghai in FIA World Endurance Championship competition.”
And that’s when Shank is expected to switch to Honda power, rather than try to adapt the 3.5-liter twin-turbo Ford Ecoboost V-6 to the Ligier.
With or without the engine switch, the move to the Ligier means Michael Shank Racing, which has been competing since 2004 and has over 230 Daytona Prototype starts, is moving from DP to LM P2, which also means the car would be eligible for competition in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in World Endurance Championship events.
We’ll know for sure on Friday. A Michael Shank Racing spokesman declined to comment.