Michael Shank Racing takes eighth in Mexico City (Mexico City, Mexico) 5 November 05-- Michael Shank Racing drivers Kenny Wilden and Mike Borkowski brought the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac/Riley home eighth in the Rolex Sports Car Series season ...
Michael Shank Racing takes eighth in Mexico City
(Mexico City, Mexico) 5 November 05-- Michael Shank Racing drivers Kenny Wilden and Mike Borkowski brought the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac/Riley home eighth in the Rolex Sports Car Series season finale in Mexico City, while the sister Flight Options Lexus/Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri was unable to finish after an oil line broke and ended their day early.
The eighth place finish marks the tenth top-ten result of the season for Michael Shank Racing, although the result was a disappointment after the Mears machine ran in the lead pack in the opening half of the race.
Wilden started the car from fourth on the grid, and was soon part of a three-car pack that broke away from the field. Wilden made several passing attempts on the eventual race-winning car, which was running in second early in the race, but never found the gap he needed to safely take the position as the car began to lose grip. The situation deteriorated, but he held his ground for several laps until losing three positions after a momentary off due to oil on the circuit.
Wilden returned to the track quickly and regained a position before turning the car over to Borkowski, who rejoined in tenth place and began to make up positions once again. The race, which ran under green flag conditions for the entire ninety-lap race distance, proved to play against Borkowski, who suffered from a car that lost grip rapidly through his stint, but he was able to hold on to bring the Mears Motor Coach machine home in eighth.
"It was all I could do to hang on there at the end," said Borkowski. "We just didn't have the car to move any further up the field and challenge, so I just had to get into a rhythm and drive within what the car could do. This wasn't what we were hoping for today, of course, but it was our first visit to the track and we have a lot of good information to use here next year."
The sister Flight Options machine was unable to make it to the finish after Grand American officials deemed the mechanical issue to be significant enough to park the car for the day, which up to that point had been going to plan. Patterson started the race from twelfth on the grid and after losing two positions at the start, regained the lost ground and kept the Flight Options machine in contention on the lead lap before bringing the car in to the pits and turning it over to Negri.
Negri, who won championships in Mexico on his way up the racing ladder, was hoping to wow the Mexican crowds once again, but soon after taking to the track, he was followed by an ominous cloud of white smoke. Negri dove into the pits as the Michael Shank Racing crew quickly determined that an oil line had broken, sending oil all over the back of the car. After fixing the line, Negri returned to action but only for a moment as the car was still leaking enough fluid from the initial problem that Grand American wanted the car back into the pits.
"It just wasn't our day today," said team owner Mike Shank. "Kenny got off to a great start and we were looking good, but the car just went away from him and it wasn't much better for Mike, so we couldn't' really make our way back up front. Mark did a great job and we were going along exactly as we'd planned, but we had that problem with the oil line and couldn't keep going. It is a disappointing way to end the season, but we are very excited and tremendously motivated about our future in this series, and will start working towards the Rolex 24 the moment we get home."
Michael Shank Racing was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr. MSR joined the Rolex ranks in 2004, leading the first race it entered and making two podium appearances with drivers Burt Frisselle and Oswaldo Negri, Jr.