Michael Shank Racing signs Zogaib and James for 2007 (Columbus, OH) 25 October 06--After closing out the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season with a breakthrough win, Michael Shank Racing is already deep in preparations for 2007. Team owner...
Michael Shank Racing signs Zogaib and James for 2007
(Columbus, OH) 25 October 06--After closing out the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season with a breakthrough win, Michael Shank Racing is already deep in preparations for 2007.
Team owner Mike Shank has announced the signing of Henri Zogaib and Ian James to pilot the Lexus-powered #6 Riley entry, which finished twelfth in the 2006 team championship standings.
Zogaib is a Florida-based entrepreneur with four career starts in the Daytona Prototypes, with a best finish of tenth. The thirty-three year old is racing as a passionate pursuit, and has purchased the Riley machine from Paul Mears Jr.
"Mike Shank's record speaks for itself and I couldn't be more pleased," said Zogaib. "I think we are going to surprise some people. Mike and his team have shown that even though the Rolex Series is very competitive, it's still possible to win with a 'pro-am' combination like Ian and myself."
Zogaib will be targeting success not just in the results, but also in the Trueman Award standings. The Trueman Award recognizes the best-performing driver who does not derive their main source of income from racing in the Rolex Series, an award that Mark Patterson won in 2006 for his strong season in the sister #60 Michael Shank Racing entry.
"I was following in the footsteps of Mark Patterson in the formula cars, but had to take some time away from racing to focus on business, so now I'm a little behind him," said Zogaib. "But I know that this team is going to help me be competitive and I am really confident about working with Lexus and TRD."
Zogaib and James co-drove a Daytona Prototype in the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona. While their day ended early with a mechanical DNF, the pairing developed a chemistry during the event and led to coordinating a full-season effort for 2007.
Zogaib credits James, who has won in every category of Grand American racing save for the Daytona Prototypes, as being instrumental in his progress as a driver. British-born James will be looking to add a DP win to his impressive racing resume, and feels like working with Zogaib and Michael Shank Racing will give him a good opportunity to do just that.
"Mike runs a really top-notch operation and has shown that the pro-am situation can be well managed," said James. "The opportunity to work with Lexus again is another big draw for me."
James followed the typical single-seater ladder through the ranks in Europe before racing Stateside and has a wide scope of experience in the sport, including taking the 2004 LMP2 Championship in American Le Mans competition.
"The Daytona Prototype class is the last thing in Grand Am for me to take on and to do so with a proper effort behind me is something I'm very excited about," said James. "This is a very well-drilled team-everyone knows what they are doing and is on top of their game."
The announcement is another progression forward for the Columbus, Ohio-based team, which started competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series with a one-car entry in 2004. The team is gearing up to move to a new custom-built shop immediately after returning from the Daytona test in early November.
"This is exciting for the team to continue with the 6 car with a package that we know is very capable," said Shank. "We know what we have to do to be competitive and know that we have the package we need to win races."
Zogaib and James will be getting their first taste of Lexus power during the upcoming Rolex test at Daytona International Speedway November 6-7.
Michael Shank Racing has already announced the sister Flight Options Lexus-powered Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri for the 2007 season, as the two are looking forward to bringing their race-winning momentum to the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
Co-driving with Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger, the duo opened the 2006 season with a strong run to second place in the famed event. The team will also be announcing the full driver line up for the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona in the coming weeks.