Continuity key as Shank signs Patterson, Negri, Pew, and James for 08 (Columbus, OH) 28 November 2007--With the Rolex Sports Car Series moving to Pirelli tires and Michael Shank Racing joining forces with Ford Racing Technology powered by Roush...
Continuity key as Shank signs Patterson, Negri, Pew, and James for 08
(Columbus, OH) 28 November 2007--With the Rolex Sports Car Series moving to Pirelli tires and Michael Shank Racing joining forces with Ford Racing Technology powered by Roush Yates Engines, there will be a lot of new elements to the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season, but for the Columbus-based team, one thing will remain the same. Actually, four.
Mike Shank announced today that he has retained the same full-season driver line up from the 2007 season as his team prepares to contest the full 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series calendar with a two-car effort in the Daytona Prototype class.
Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri closed out the 2006 Rolex season with a win at Miller Motorsports Park, which was deemed to be the "Rolex Moment of the Year" before the two scored eleven top tens and one podium in 2007. The two first raced together for Michael Shank Racing in 2005 with a pole and podium-scoring partial season before kicking off a full-time 2006 campaign with a Rolex 24 At Daytona podium run to second place overall. 2008 will see the two combine for a third full season together in the No. 60 Ford-powered Riley.
John Pew and Ian James joined forces in May and developed a chemistry quickly, taking six straight top tens including two fourth place finishes. Despite sporting Rolex rookie stripes, Pew impressed with his qualifying runs as he and James closed out the season with a run to eighth in the Rolex Team Championship.
"I'm really excited to be able to keep this line-up heading into next year," said Shank. "Obviously we've shown a lot of consistency and speed with these guys, and being able to continue our relationships with them is going to pay dividends for us moving forward. We're lucky to be a two-car team that really operates like one big team, with great communication and teamwork between the two cars-from the drivers to the engineers to the guys setting up the pits."
The team already has a firm foot forward on the 2008 season, coming off a highly successful Pirelli tire test earlier this month which saw the team set some impressive times in their first exposure to the new PZero Rolex Sports Car Series tire.
"This new tire is great, and we're confident that we'll be more competitive this season," said Shank. "We are working flat out with the new cars and the new tires, but we are really excited about next year. We have also put a great line-up together for the 24 and are looking forward to making some announcements soon."
While the new motor partner and race tire will have the team looking for champagne glory, there will be another contest to keep an eye on all season as both Mark Patterson and John Pew will be eligible for the prestigious Jim Trueman Award. Patterson won the award in 2006, and both he and Pew are expected to be lead challenges for the honor in 2008.
"Mark set a great benchmark for me to follow in my rookie season last year and I'm looking forward to competing with him for that Trueman trophy," said Pew. "He still has a lot more experience than I do in these cars, but we were nipping at his heels a couple times last year, so hopefully we can keep improving and being competitive. I'm happy that Ian will be with us again this year to help make that happen because he's a tremendous asset to this team both in and out of the car."
"This is a great environment for me and to have everything in place with our driver line up and communication we've established already is a huge advantage," said James. "Even though there are a lot of new things going on with the motor and the tires, the whole team can hit the ground running like we did at the test. I'm really looking forward to the season."
The Pirelli test provided a shot of excitement for the team not just because of the fast times that were set, but also because the tire suited the styles of MSR pilots on the long runs.
"This team is really strong and this Pirelli test was further evidence of that," said Patterson. "We were quick right off the truck and we will look to carry that pace all the way to the last lap of the 24 this year. We know this team is tremendously capable, and we are hungry to get back on the podium as often as possible this year and with our new Ford power and a tire that is going to make everyone a lot faster, we think we have what we need to do that."
Negri, who backed up his record setting run to pole at Laguna in 05 with a podium performance there two years later, is anxious to get the season going after a taste of the Pirelli performance.
"This new tire is great and I know we're going to be much stronger with it," said Negri. "Mark gets faster every year-he really works hard at it and shows up at every track with great focus and it pays off with his times lap after lap. I think he's going to be even stronger this season and we're really looking forward to the potential we have with our drivers, the Ford power, and this new tire."