Montreal: Michael Shank Racing preview

A Lap of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with Michael Shank Racing drivers Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, and John Pew The Rolex Sports Car Series will make a Montreal debut this week on the 2.71-mile Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve. The track, situated...

A Lap of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with Michael Shank Racing drivers Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, and John Pew

The Rolex Sports Car Series will make a Montreal debut this week on the 2.71-mile Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve. The track, situated on the Ile de Notre-Dame, has hosted Formula 1 races since 1978 as the home of the Canadian Grand Prix. The race weekend will run in conjunction with the NASCAR Busch Series, which is also racing for the first time in Montreal.

While many Rolex competitors will be working to find their way around the impressive facility, Michael Shank Racing drivers John Pew, Mark Patterson, and Oswaldo Negri already have experienced the track at speed in advance of the Rolex weekend.

Pew, who has yet to finish out of the top ten since joining Michael Shank Racing earlier this season, had a less than happy visit to the Montreal circuit the last time he raced there.

But the Montreal memories are not all bad for Pew, who relished his battle with Patterson during the 2005 event in Mazda competition.

"After you cross the start/finish line, you prepare for the first left hander, going down the gears and using all the apex curbing you can," says Pew. "A quick shot of gas and then down a gear, maybe two, for the tight right hander that follows right after that as you try to stay close to the curb all the way around. The track goes up just slightly here before the exit of the corner."

"That second turn has no grip and if not handled well, opens up a neat passing opportunity going into the next right hander," adds Patterson.

"Next is a quick right hander--Hard brakes and back down the gears and over the apex curbs," said Pew. "Then there is another immediate direction change back to the left. There are curbs at the track out here, and it's just a couple of inches to the wall right there. Then you run back up the gears before the next right hander--a sweeping and very fast blind corner."

2006 Trueman Award winner Mark Patterson picks up the lap from here.

"Hard brake into 90 degree left hander and sweeping right over a white repair patch onto a more gradual opening right turn that spits you out onto a left side wall at full throttle," said Patterson. "There's an 18 inch strip of grass between the wall and the race track -- more than enough margin for error.

"Up through the gears towards the Olympus bridge past the 200 board, 100 board, into a big braking zone, down through the gears as you pass the 50 board. It's dark underneath the bridge, but there's blinding sunlight as you exit the bridge and turn sharply right into another chicane. Bang, jump the right side curbs (red and white on the track, green and white inside the apex). Rough as they are, snap steering wheel left and back over the red and white curbing, power down back towards another tight wall with another 18 inches of grace before tragedy.

"This leads to the sweeping curved, Portland-like straight, past the Kubica 75G crash site towards the hairpin. Heavy braking and back down to first gear for what might be the best passing spot on the track."

Negri, who drove the track in his duties as test and reserve driver for both the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Formula BMW USA when the series shared the track with Formula 1, takes over at the Hairpin:

"One thing is that because this track is used so infrequently, it changes a lot through a weekend, so you have to keep up with that every lap," said Negri. "Getting out of the hairpin is obviously going to be very important. Just getting the power down as soon as possible because that leads to a long straight-longer than we even ran at Long Beach I believe. Very straightforward here until you get to the tricky "Champions Corner."

"I think this is going to be a good place for overtaking, but it's also the hardest and most dangerous part of the track. There is absolutely no run off, and if you catch the curbs wrong, you are going to kiss the wall, no question. It is also easy to over-brake for that corner, so it's a question of balancing bringing the right speed into that corner, and not too much! And from there, you are back to start finish and ready to go again..."

And it isn't just the track that Negri is looking forward to...

"The other thing that is always so amazing is the Canadian fans. They know their motor racing and are always so enthusiastic. It's just great to be racing for that kind of crowd. They love their hometown drivers and even though I'm not one of them, it is still very motivating when you can hear a crowd from inside the car. I'm really looking forward to this race!"

-credit: msr

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