Michael Shank Racing takes top ten despite tough day at VIR (Alton, VA) 9 October 05-- Michael Shank Racing's two Daytona Prototypes finished tenth and sixteenth in class in the VIR 400 in round thirteen of the Rolex Sports Car Series. The ...
Michael Shank Racing takes top ten despite tough day at VIR
(Alton, VA) 9 October 05-- Michael Shank Racing's two Daytona Prototypes finished tenth and sixteenth in class in the VIR 400 in round thirteen of the Rolex Sports Car Series. The results weren't what the team had been hoping for as two separate incidents arising from avoiding contact with other spinning cars put both the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley of Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears and the Flight Options Lexus-Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri several laps down.
However, the finishing result was impressive given that both cars were at one point several laps down, and showed the true speed of the cars as they rallied to storm back up through the order.
Mears started in the Pontiac-Riley combination from eighth on the grid, and was fighting his way forward in the opening laps when he came upon two spinning Daytona Prototypes and had to take to the grass to avoid making contact. Unfortunately, there has been heavy rain every day for the last four days on the natural terrain road course, making the grass nearly impossible to navigate with the slick Hoosier tires.
"There was just nothing I could do," said a disappointed Mears. "It was hit them, or go off in the grass, and once I was off the track, I couldn't get enough grip to get back on track. I couldn't believe it took them so long to throw the yellow and get me towed out of there."
After several frustrating laps of trying to make it back onto the track, Grand American called a full course caution to recover the car and bring it back to the asphalt. Mears was able to get back going again, but the damage was done as the car fell to 44th place in the order and Borkowski climbed in to get to work.
An unfortunately similar incident befell the sister Flight Options car of Negri and Patterson, as Patterson had started from nineteenth position and had moved up into the top ten before he turned the car over to Negri during a full-course caution period. On the restart, two Porsches spun directly in front of Negri and he was forced into the grass to avoid making contact. The fast Brazilian had similar luck as Mears finding traction on the wet grass, and the team lost two laps in the process and fell to 27th in the order.
"I didn't have any option," said Negri. "There were cars spinning right in front of me and I had to go in the grass. It's such a shame because we were very fast today and had been having a very good weekend. But we were able to at least make up some places and get back into the top-ten."
Disappointed but no less determined, Borkowski and Negri both set off to make up the laps and work their way up the order. Borkowski made big progress, running as lap times close to those of the leaders, including running well in front of the eventual race winner for several laps before turning the car back over to Mears in the closing laps.
"Thank you guys," Borkowski said on the radio as he brought the car in for Mears to take over in the closing stages of the race. "We had a great car again and it was just a shame that we couldn't run up front, because the car certainly had the speed to do it. This team is simply excellent, and we had another race-winning car today but it just wasn't our day."
Mears kept up the charge and finished sixteenth in class, as Negri stayed in the Flight Options car to the checkered flag, making up all but one lap to the leader, and was running with the lead pack as he scored the team's ninth top-ten finish of the season.
"Both cars went really well today, but we just caught a couple of bad breaks that put us way behind," said Shank. "We were really fast and made up some laps, but we just had so much ground to make up. So it was it was a tough day at the office. But overall, it was a good weekend for us because we were on the pace in every session, and the guys did a great job in the car and we ran without any problems all weekend, so those things were positive for us and we'll be looking to do well in Mexico next month."
Michael Shank Racing will race again in the season-ending Mexico City event on November 5th.