Mexico City: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing ready for Mexico sprint (Columbus, OH) 28 February 07-- Michael Shank Racing will be bringing the momentum from a double-Daytona finish South of the Border to Mexico City, Mexico this weekend for round two of the 2007 Rolex...

Michael Shank Racing ready for Mexico sprint

(Columbus, OH) 28 February 07-- Michael Shank Racing will be bringing the momentum from a double-Daytona finish South of the Border to Mexico City, Mexico this weekend for round two of the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series season. Both Michael Shank Racing entries finished and scored points towards the season championship in the grueling Rolex 24 At Daytona, and will now look to take that momentum south to a track where the team has shown great speed in past visits.

The two and a half-hour race distance demands a different approach and mindset from the 24, and with a recent successful two-day test under the team's belt, Michael Shank Racing is looking forward to the start of the sprint-race season.

"We're ready to race," said team owner Mike Shank. "We had to overcome a lot, but we got both cars to the finish in the 24 and now we're focused on the sprint races we have coming up. The Houston test was one of the best we've ever had as a team. Both of our cars have historically been very fast in Mexico, so we are pretty optimistic about the weekend."

There is a lot of extra preparation involved with making the trip to Mexico City, but with a new shop, an expanding staff, and a team deep with experience, the team is ready to go.

The No. 60 of Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson led the Mexico City timing sheets early in the weekend last year, but the team suffered a setback when a track marker was dislodged into Negri's path at speed and caused an accident. The team rallied as Patterson strapped into a competitor's car just moments before qualifying to post an impressive time with an unfamiliar machine, but the race didn't bring the results that the early sessions promised. With a new chance for success, Patterson and Negri will be looking to make the most of the weekend after battling to take ninth place overall in the Rolex 24 on the very last lap to open up the 2007 season.

"Oz and I both love that track, despite the unkind events of last year," said Patterson. "No track boasts a better crowd of fans. We know we'll have a much better, more competitive time of it this year. Tracy Krohn, Rob Finley and I are off to a good close start to the 2007 Trueman season, despite all having suffered from our own form of agony at the 24. It's going to be neck and neck again to the end."

"Mark was quite quick here last year and I think we are even stronger as a team than we were last year," said Negri, who has his own Mexican fan base after having raced with great success in the Pan-American Indy Lights Championship in 1998-2000. "I really love this track and we are running a different-spec Lexus than we were last year, so I am very optimistic about what we can do this weekend."

For the No.6 Lexus/Riley of Henri Zogaib and Ian James, the Mexico City round will mark the competitive debut for the duo on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. One key element in their favor will be the strong record the Michael Shank Racing No.6 entry has at the high-altitude track, taking eighth in 2005 and scoring a third place finish in 2006.

"It was very satisfying to cross the finish line after a very long 24 hours in Daytona, but now our focus has to change for the sprint races," said Zogaib, who is competing in the 2007 Trueman Award competition. "Ian and I will have a lot to learn with the new track, but the test went very well and I feel very confident with the team and in the car. Hopefully we can adapt quickly and have a strong finish in our first sprint race together."

Despite a wealth of experience in a wide range of racing categories, James has never raced in Mexico City, but is looking forward to taking on a new track.

"I've been studying the races on TV, and I've talked a lot to Oz (Negri) about the track because he went very well there last year," said James. "It will be a bit of a challenge initially, but once Henri and I get a few laps there, it should be no problem. Another upside is we had a really good test at Houston and got a lot of mileage in and made more progress with our set-ups, so we're looking forward to it."

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Tracy Krohn , Mark Patterson , Henri Zogaib , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing