Honda Racing–TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Road Race Showcase

HPD Racing Report
Sunday, August 9, 2015

TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
Circuit: Road America (4.0-mile road course) Elkhart Lake, WI
2014 Winner: Joao Barbosa / Christian Fittipaldi (Action Express Chevrolet)
Weather: Partly sunny, mild, 76 degrees F

Honda, Michael Shank Racing Finish Fourth at Road America
• Honda-powered team scores fourth top-four finish of 2015
• Eversley, Gilsinger combine to win Continental Tire Challenge race for Honda

Honda-powered Michael Shank Racing continued to demonstrate strong form in the second half of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, finishing fourth on Sunday, after starting well behind the field, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It marked the fourth top-four finish in eight races for the Shank team, drivers Oswaldo “Ozz” Negri and John Pew and their Ligier JS P2 Honda.

A leak in the car’s rubberized fuel cell “bladder”, discovered on race morning, required the MSR crew to disassemble and remove the fuel cell, repair the bladder and re-install it in the team’s Ligier Honda. Normally an all-day job, MSR mechanics completed repairs in just a few hours, but missed the required pre-race “reconnaissance laps”. As a result, series rules required driver John Pew to start from pit lane, at the end of the field, and then complete a drive-thru pit lane penalty, putting the car almost a full lap behind the leaders in the opening laps.

Pew, who prior to the penalty had qualified the Ligier Honda fifth for today’s two-hour, 40-minute contest, took the opening stint and matched the lap times of the overall leaders as he worked his way through GT category traffic, then pitted during the first full-course caution of the event just past the 30-minute mark to hand over to his co-driver. Negri continued the rapid pace established by his teammate, moving the Ligier-Honda into contention for a podium finish. Running third and closing on the leaders in the final laps, Negri encountered GT traffic and was forced to run wide at the exit of the “Carousel”, dropping one position in the process, then recovering to finish fourth.

The Ligier chassis fielded by MSR is powered by a production-based 2.8-liter Honda HR28TT V6 engine, developed for competition by HPD from the Honda “J35” series of passenger vehicle V6 engines, with improvements including twin turbochargers. Key production-based components include the block and cylinder heads, direct-injection fuel system, valve train components, drive-by-wire throttle, alternator, sensors and fasteners. The engine even features a stock Honda oil filter.

Earlier in the weekend, Ryan Eversley and Chad Gilsinger drove their Honda Civic Si to victory in the ST class of the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge event, with Gilsinger taking the Honda of America Racing Team entry from 18th on the grid to second in his opening stint, and Eversley passing the leading Porsche Cayman for the win in a dramatic last-lap finish. Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler combined to complete a 1-2 result for Honda in their CRG-I Do Borrow Civic Si.

Next month, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship continues September 17-19 with the Lone Star Le Mans, a combined TUDOR and World Endurance Championship race weekend at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.

John Pew (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda) on today’s race: “The car was good and it was interesting starting from the very back. I had some fun working through the GTs and GTLMs. The car was really good, the guys did a really good job getting the car set up right. I pushed really hard to try and give Ozz [Negri] the car in a good spot. Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out, but fourth is a long way from where we started today. Kudos to everyone on the team and to the engineers at HPD.”