|Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 12-hour endurance race
Sebring International Raceway (3.7-mile road course) Sebring, FL
Weather: Sunny, mild, 78 degrees F afternoon high
◾Pit strategy sees Dyer, Negri, Segal NSX GT3 finish eighth
◾Lally, Legge, Wilkins NSX GT3 finish 14th, delayed by suspension issue
◾65th running of 12-hour endurance racing classic
Acura Motorsports and Michael Shank Racing faced the toughest test in North American sports car racing – the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – and succeeded in bringing both of the team's Acura NSX GT3's to the finish in Saturday's 65th running of the endurance classic.
After 12 hours of incredibly hard racing around the bumpy, demanding 3.7-mile Sebring circuit, built on the grounds of a former World War II Air Force training base, the MSR Acura effort was led to the checkers by the #86 entry of Tom Dyer, Oswaldo 'Ozz' Negri Jr. and Jeff Segal, who finished eighth in the GTD class after stretching the fuel mileage of their NSX GT3 to the maximum in the closing hours.
The sister #93 NSX GT3 driven by Andy Lally, Katherine Legge and Mark Wilkins ran as high as second in the opening hour, and was fourth in class after four hours. But shortly after the five-hour mark, Legge was forced to bring the car to the pits with a suspension issue, ultimately requiring replacement of the left-front damper shock absorber and costing the team eight laps while repairs were completed. Back on track, the trio continued to lap competitively to the finish, but was unable to make up the earlier lost laps and finished 14th in GTD.
Competing in the GTD class of the sports car racing championship, the NSX GT3s race against premium automotive brands including Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
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.
The Acura NSX GT3 adds to a rich legacy of Acura sports car racing championships, including the 1991, 1992 and 1993 IMSA Camel Lights manufacturer and driver championships, and the 2009 American Le Mans Series manufacturer, driver and team championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.
Video recaps from this weekend's Acura WeatherTech SportsCar Championship activities at Sebring are posted on the 'Honda Racing/HPD' YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2017 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
The 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship resumes Saturday, April 8, with the Grand Prix of Long Beach in Southern California.
Steve Eriksen (Vice President and COO, Honda Performance Development): 'All things considered, this was another step forward for the NSX GT3 program. Both Michael Shank Racing Acuras got to the finish at a notoriously tough track, as evidenced by the attrition throughout the field. The eighth-place finish for the #86 car keeps Acura well in contention for the North American Endurance Championship. When faced with a mechanical challenge mid-race with the #93 NSX GT3, the Acura Motorsports and MSR teams put their heads down, persevered and got the car back out to finish the race. Thanks once again to everyone at Acura Motorsports, HPD and MSR for another fine effort, and on to one of our home races, next month's Grand Prix of Long Beach, where all four Acuras that we have campaigning in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge will be competing on the weekend.'
Ozz Negri (Driver, Michael Shank Racing #86 Acura NSX GT3): 'Sebring is the toughest track and our Acura NSX passed the test. We finished eighth, which is good, but nowhere near where we want to be. The team did a fantastic job. The guys on the stand had a great strategy and we kept pushing as hard as we could. Jeff Segal and Tom Dyer, co-drivers did a brilliant job and we are very happy with another top-10 finish. All three of us drivers were running laps within tenths of a second of each other, so it was great to have that consistency. I can't thank my Michael Shank Racing team enough; they just never stopped working at it.'
Katherine Legge (Driver, Michael Shank Racing #93 Acura NSX GT3): 'I'm bitterly disappointed that we had the shock absorber failure, because I think we had a top-six car. Everyone on the team, HPD and Acura was fighting hard the whole race, and we deserved more. Just like Daytona where the #93 Acura was unable to finish due to body damage was heartbreaking, this is equally heartbreaking. But we have the fighting spirit, and now we just need to get the results to back it up.'
Michael Shank (Team Owner, Michael Shank Racing): ''We started out with some turbocharger issues that we had to work on all day with the #93 NSX, but that wasn't really killing us; we were able to keep pushing through. Ultimately, there was a suspension issue that took the #93 car off the lead lap, but at the end, we had a pretty good pace. Having a two-car team is really helpful; we are truly able to help each other out both on and off the track.'