Michael Shank Racing Takes Top Ten in Montreal (Montreal, QUE-) 28 August 09- The outcome of Saturday's Montreal 200 seemed to change with every sweep of the Doppler radar as Michael Shank Racing battled with the field as well as the weather on...
Michael Shank Racing Takes Top Ten in Montreal
(Montreal, QUE-) 28 August 09- The outcome of Saturday's Montreal 200 seemed to change with every sweep of the Doppler radar as Michael Shank Racing battled with the field as well as the weather on Saturday at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for round ten of the Rolex Sports Car Series championship.
The team emerged from the rainy event with a top ten finish as John Pew and Michael Valiante finished eighth overall as the sister Daytona Prototype of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri fought home to a thirteenth place class result.
The two-hour sprint event was a challenge for the engineers and drivers alike, as the weather moved back and forth between rainy and dry conditions from the time the cars lined up on the grid ahead of the race to after the checkered flag flew.
"It was a tough day all around," said team owner Mike Shank. "The (race winning) 10 car stopped to pit for rain tires one lap later than we did, and that turned out to be all the difference. It was just impossible to know what was going to happen with the weather even though we had the radar up because it wouldn't make up its mind. We had good pit stops all day long, but just didn't have any luck with the weather. It was disappointing, but now we'll look ahead to being part of the test at Indianapolis next week. "
At the green flag, Patterson started from seventh on the grid, and moved up to sixth but a lap one spin set him back before he emerged from GT traffic to keep moving forward.
Pew's race also had a challenging start, as his wet-weather tires were ideal for the rainy conditions at the green flag, but the following laps saw the track dry out and put the pressure on the rear rubber and made for a challenging opening segment in the No. 6.
"Just some bad luck with the tire choices for us today," lamented Pew, who fortunately was able to avoid teammate Patterson's spin on the first lap. "My stint was really difficult because the wet tires had gone so far off that it was almost as if something was broken at the back of the car. It was very hard to drive, even on the straights so I had to bring it in."
Valiante took the controls from deep in the pack, and was fighting his way forward when another car moved aside under braking, causing contact that the Canadian was deemed to be responsible for as he had to return to the pits for a stop and go penalty. But he charged back and raced his way back on to the lead lap for the final segments of race. After moving up as high as second in the running order, one final pit stop for rain tires to close out the race saw him set another round of fast laps and cross the line in eighth.
"It is a bit frustrating to run in position for a podium so late in the race, but to not be able to convert that to some good points because of the way the weather effected the outcome," said Valiante. "It was really challenging to be out there in the rain with slicks on so I had to come back in for the rains but that cost us a lot of track position today."
In addition to also fending off the constant invitations of the walls that line the 2.71-mile circuit thanks to the inclement weather, No. 60's day was compromised after it was involved in contact from another competitor. The No. 2 entry, which has now created issues by making contact with the orange and black Riley in three of the last four races, once again crashed into the 60 as Negri was fighting his way back onto the lead lap.
The incident brought out the only yellow flag of the day and paid no favors to Negri and Patterson's intentions of moving up from 10th in the championship standings.
"This was a very hard day and it ended up with a disappointing result," said Negri. "But we have to just keep fighting and something good will happen to us, I know it. We have had the speed and keep showing that but need to just have a day that lets us show the speed and have the good luck to go with it. We've won two of the last three races at Miller, so hopefully we can make it three when we got back out there next month."
"It was my mistake on the first lap-there was a bit of a gap and I just went for it and ended up spinning so that was an unfortunate way to start things off," said Patterson. "I am not sure what it is about the No. 2 car that it seems to always end up effecting our race but unfortunately it happened once again today. It was back and forth with the rain and the tire choices were obvious--but only after the fact!"
Michael Shank Racing will return to the team shop outside of Columbus, Ohio before heading West to participate in the Rolex Sports Car Series test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.