Michael Shank Racing fastest in Mexico City practice (Mexico City, Mexico) 2 March 06 -- Michael Shank Racing continued to show it is a force to be reckoned with on Thursday, as the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona runners-up led both opening practices...
Michael Shank Racing fastest in Mexico City practice
(Mexico City, Mexico) 2 March 06 -- Michael Shank Racing continued to show it is a force to be reckoned with on Thursday, as the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona runners-up led both opening practices at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City in advance of round two of the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season.
Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson hauled the Flight Options Lexus/Riley to the top of the timesheets in the first session, and improved once again in the final afternoon session to set a fast lap time of 1:23.137-seconds on the 2.5-mile circuit.
"I am just so proud of how hard the people at Michael Shank Racing and Lexus work," said Negri. "We knew when we left here last year that we had some work to do if we wanted to be more competitive, and I think being quickest in both sessions today shows the effort that everyone has put in."
Negri, who had a break-out Rolex season in 2004 with Michael Shank Racing, has a lot of experience in the sport and is quick recognize the opportunity that partnering with Patterson and MSR is creating.
"Of course, I am working hard in the car, but this really is a team sport and it takes an extra effort from everybody on the team to get to the front in Rolex. I am also very excited about how fast Mark (Patterson) was today because he put in some very fast laps on old tires, so we should be strong in the race."
The Rolex Series is racing as part of the NASCAR Busch Series race weekend, and is making use of a different track layout than was employed last November in the series' Mexico City debut with Champ Car. The final corner on the circuit is now a high-speed right-handed sweeper that launches the Daytona Prototypes onto the long front stretch.
"We left here pretty disappointed last year, but we knew we had some good data to work with and even though this is a different track layout than what we ran in November, running at the top of both sessions today shows that we have done our homework," said Patterson. "Right from the beginning of the session, the car felt very comfortable so we were able to push and improve all day. And, even though it can cause some problems with the traffic, it's great that the field has grown so significantly over last year and I think is going to make for another fantastic race."
The team has been working flat out after earning accolades in Daytona, as the Columbus, Ohio-based team continues to establish itself as a front-runner in Rolex on a regular basis.
"This is a really positive way for us to get the weekend started," said team owner Mike Shank. "Mark continues to impress us with his lap times and Oz obviously put his knowledge of this track to use today. Coming off our podium finish at Daytona and now starting the weekend off quickest right away, we are really looking forward to going racing on Saturday."