Mexico City: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing taking Rolex podium momentum South (Columbus, OH) 1 March 06-- After getting the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season off to a flying start with a strong second place in the ...

Michael Shank Racing taking Rolex podium momentum South

(Columbus, OH) 1 March 06-- After getting the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season off to a flying start with a strong second place in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in the Flight Options Lexus/Riley, Michael Shank Racing is looking to keep the positive momentum up this weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

The race marks just the seventh event that drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri have raced together, yet what they have achieved with Michael Shank Racing has been quite impressive, with two podiums and a track-record setting pole position to their credit. The two are also the de facto championship points leaders heading into the weekend, as the Rolex-winning team will not be participating in the Mexico event.

The Rolex series first raced in Mexico City last November, with over 100,000 vocal spectators getting their first taste of the close-quarters racing that is fast becoming a Rolex trademark. The teams will have a new challenge in their second visit, as the 2.5-mile road circuit layout is different from what was used in November.

"The track is technical and quick, with enough bumps and high rumbles to keep your attention throughout the entire course," said Patterson. "Without the stadium turns, we'll all enter the main straight much more quickly and have another series of bumps to deal with."

For Negri, the Mexico round is a homecoming of sorts, as the Brazilian has several season's of experience racing in Mexico under his belt as he worked his way up the racing ladder in open wheel cars. Negri not only raced in Mexico, but he did so for several prominent Mexican figures, including Filiberto Jimenez, Mexican soap opera actor Juan Ferrara, and Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez.

Negri first took wins in International F-3 before winning the 1998 Pan American Indy Lights Championship, and backed that performance up with two more top-three championship runs in the category.

"I love racing in Mexico," smiled Negri. "I have a lot of good memories from my time racing there, and this weekend is going to be like a reunion with so many old friends from that experience. It's even better to be racing here after getting our season started in such a positive way. It's been almost five weeks since Daytona, and I've been counting down the days to getting back into the car!"

Last November's visit to Mexico City yielded disappointment for the Columbus-based team, as an oil line burst and forced the Flight Options machine to the sidelines, but the team is looking to make the return visit a more productive one this time around.

"Daytona was a great start to the season for us and we just want to keep that going and keep ourselves up front," said team owner Mike Shank. "This series is extremely competitive, and getting more so each round, so you really have to have your homework done ahead of time. The guys haven't let up one bit since getting back from Daytona, so we feel like we are ready to go."

The Mexico City event marks round two of fourteen for the 2006 Rolex season, with hundreds of laps yet to go in the championship battle, something that the team has firmly in mind.

"Taking a win with Ozz would certainly be nice and we are working hard to achieve that goal, but the points championship for all the top cars in this series is the primary focus for us," said Patterson. "We're all a long way from the end of the season and anything can happen."

-msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing