Mexico City: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing looking for return to podium in Mexico City 3rd in championship standings going into third round of Rolex season (Columbus, OH) 16 April 08 -- Michael Shank Racing will pack some podium momentum and a pair of fast ...

Michael Shank Racing looking for return to podium in Mexico City
3rd in championship standings going into third round of Rolex season

(Columbus, OH) 16 April 08 -- Michael Shank Racing will pack some podium momentum and a pair of fast Ford-Rileys as the team prepares to head south for round three of the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series Season this weekend in Mexico City, Mexico. With the pole position and a front row monopoly at Daytona, and a third place finish at Homestead, the 2008 Rolex season has seen the Columbus-based team emerge as a strong contender once again.

"We are ready to go this weekend, no question," said team owner Mike Shank. "We've started this season off on the right foot with our team performance at Daytona and then scoring the podium at Homestead. It has been a good start, but we're hungry for more. We know we have everything we need to get the results, so long as we execute all weekend long. The championship standings are something everyone on this team has in mind, but we'd love to get back on the podium in Mexico City this weekend."

No. 60 Ford-Riley Michael Shank Racing pilot Mark Patterson, who is locked in a tight three-way battle for the Trueman Award standings after scoring the medal in Homestead, is understandably relishing his next run in Mexico City. The South African-born racer turned in a big opening stint in the Mexico City race last year, running the opening 50 laps under all-green flag conditions and turning the car over in the top ten.

"We've always had good cars in Mexico City, although we haven't always had the best luck, so hopefully we'll have both this weekend in spite of the possibility of rain," said Patterson. "The Mexican fans are amazing, so loud and passionate that you can even hear them from inside the car and that really pushes the drivers. It was fantastic to get up on that podium in Homestead, and we'd like nothing more than to do that once again in Mexico City."

Last year's Mexico City round saw Ian James forced to take an extra pit stop for fuel before fighting his way back to finish into the top ten, and James is hoping to put the new Ford-Riley combination to good use once again this weekend as he teams with John Pew.

"This is an interesting race because when you are racing over a mile above sea level, the air is so thin that it affects nearly every aspect of the car's performance-aero, power output, everything," said James. "But the strong cars will still be strong cars no matter where you go, and we've had some excellent speed so far this season. I know John will take to this place quickly like he has everywhere else, and hopefully we can make up some ground in the championship standings."

With a stable driving line-up, consistency with the engineering staff, and a new partnership with Ford Racing blended with the new Riley bodywork, it's difficult to point to one single element that has pushed the team to this level of strength, but there is little question that all the factors are contributing, and the expectations are high for this weekend.

"For me racing at Homestead-close to where I live, and then racing in Mexico City, a place that's close to my heart and where I have so many great memories, its like I have two home races in a row!" said Oswaldo Negri, who has his own legion of fans in Mexico City thanks to his championship-garnering performances South of the Border before moving to Miami and racing in the Rolex Series.

"You can make up so much time on this track, and being in a good rhythm is a huge factor on the esses. With the work we've been doing with Ford Racing, this car is handling as well as any Daytona Prototype I've ever driven, and I just can't wait for this weekend to start."

The Mexico City round marks the first Daytona Prototype appearance for John Pew on the 14-turn 2.5-mile facility, but the well-traveled Florida resident is looking forward to adding another track to his impressive racing resume.

"I'm really looking forward to it because it's an entirely new challenge for me," said Pew. "I'm still frustrated about getting knocked off the track at Homestead and that we weren't able to get a better result, so I'm even more motivated this weekend. I think this track is going to suit my style of driving, and hopefully my training program pays off at the high altitudes!"

-credit: msr

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