Crashes Doom Acuras In WC Finale At Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga. (October 7, 2017) – A day that promised much, in the end, delivered little as both Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s were forced out of Saturday’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a 10-hour contest that concluded the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Both MSR Acuras demonstrated great speed at the challenging Georgia road racing course right from the green flag. Starting on the outside front row, second, Andy Lally took the #93 NSX GT3 to the front of the 17-car GTD category, the largest individual class in the 39-car field. The #93 went on to dominate the first five and a half hours of the race, with drivers Lally, Katherine Legge and Mark Wilkins combining to lead 145 of the first 210 laps.
Punctuated by the first of a series of caution flags that would plague Saturday’s race, Lally extended his opening pair of driving stints through the first two and a half hours, setting the pace for the GTD field. Legge continued that domination throughout her double stint, keeping the #93 Acura at the front throughout her run, as the MSR team also ensured that she was in the lead at the race’s four-hour mark, to earn additional championship points for the “series-within-a-series” Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship.
Legge turned the car over to Acura endurance driver Wilkins, who looked to run a clean and trouble-free stint. He likewise ran at the front of the GTD class prior to a Lap 210 pit stop that saw the MSR team take on additional fuel to place it back on the primary sequence of pit stops. The resulting slightly longer stop caused Wilkins to return to the fray sixth in the GTD order. But contact while attempting to pass another GTD car sent Wilkins and the #93 NSX GT3 hard into the Turn 3 tire barriers and out of the race.
Meanwhile, the #86 Acura NSX GT3 of Ozz Negri, Jeff Segal and Tom Dyer had looked to close out the 2017 season on a high note, featuring the traditional gold-and-black MSR livery. Both NSX GT3s also featured hundreds of fan signatures as a season-ending demonstration of their support.
Starting seventh, Negri ran the first two hours, matching the leaders’ pace, despite twice being knocked off course by contact, then continuing. After Negri turned the NSX GT3 over to co-driver Segal at the two-hour mark, the #86 Acura soon returned to Pit Lane and then went behind the wall for additional repairs. The MSR crew went to work in the garage and completed its work in just 25 minutes, but the time spent behind the wall saw the car fall 16 laps down to the leader.
Once repaired, the #86 NSX GT3 returned to the track, clicking off clean and consistent laps through the driver rotation of Negri, Segal, and Dyer, until the decision was made to retire the car. Ultimately, the #86 Acura was credited with a 12th place result, while the #93 NSX GT3 finished 14th.
The Acura NSX GT3s compete in the GTD class of the WeatherTech series, campaigning against premium automotive brands including Aston-Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. This year’s impressive debut season included four podium finishes, victories at both Detroit and at Watkins Glen International Raceway and three front-row starts, including a pole at Watkins Glen.
Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for Acura Motorsports in North America, and J.A.S. Motorsport of Italy are now offering the race-winning NSX GT3 for sale around the world for the 2018 season. In addition to its success in the IMSA WeatherTech series, the NSX GT3 also has recorded a victory in Pirelli World Challenge competition this year.
Developed from the production Acura NSX, the NSX GT3 utilizes the production NSX’s ultra-rigid and lightweight multi-material body with aluminum-intensive space frame, which is produced at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, exclusive worldwide manufacturing facility for the NSX. The 3.5-liter racing engine uses the same design specifications as the production Acura NSX, including the block, heads, valve train, crankshaft, pistons and dry-sump lubrication system. A six-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox delivers power to the rear wheels.
Saturday’s race concluded the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and the inaugural season of Acura participation in the popular and competitive GT3 category.
Next season, Acura Team Penske will lead the company’s effort in the prototype category, fielding a pair of new Acura ARX-05 DPi machines, which will debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2018.