MONTEREY, Calif., May 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Michael Shank Racing, with drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew, brought its Ligier-Honda to Victory Circle Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, scoring its first triumph – and the third win for Honda – in four 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events.
Starting eighth with Pew at the controls for an incident-free first stint, the MSR entry made the first of two scheduled pit stops during a Lap 24 full-course caution period while running sixth. Negri then took over the driving duties, and a clean pit stop saw the team pick up additional positions.
Passing the race-leading DeltaWing coupe on Lap 30, Negri maintained a narrow advantage through the second round of pit stops. But over the final 30 laps, Negri built a substantial, 30-second advantage over his pursuers to score a comfortable first major sports-car win for the MSR team since the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Today's win at the classic California road course followed Honda-powered victories by the Tequila Patrón ESM team at the two opening endurance races of the year – the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The victory also extends Honda's lead in the IMSA Prototype Manufacturers' Championship over season-long rivals Chevrolet and Mazda, by four points and 17 points, respectively, after four races.
After consecutive races in California, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now takes several weeks off before the fifth round of the 10-race championship, June 4 Detroit Sports Car Classic, a part of the Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix race weekend.
Ozz Negri (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier Honda) on today's victory: "I had to execute [during the final pass of the DeltaWing for the lead]. The opportunity was there and I had to take it. Once in front, I pushed really hard to open up a gap, then just managed my [lap] times, managed the gap [to second place] and passed the GT [class] cars where it was possible to do so without going off-line and damaging the tires. Once I had a strong lead, we could cruise to the finish."
John Pew (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier Honda): "It feels like a curse has been lifted. We've been on the podium a few times, but not on the top step for a while. The team made a great strategy call. Ozz doesn't stop thinking about our car 24/7. He called our engineer late last night and said, 'Let's try this.' It was a lot about saving tires. It was Ozz's 'fault' that we won."
Steve Eriksen (Vice President and COO, Honda Performance Development): "Congratulations to Michael Shank Racing on its victory at the legendary Laguna Seca circuit. After a challenging qualifying session, they rallied and showed a great team effort resulting in today's win. Also congratulations to our hard-working Honda and HPD associates, who continue to demonstrate the 'Honda Challenging Spirit' with our third overall win in four IMSA races this season."
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SOURCE Honda Racing