.As the IMSA Weathertech Sports Car series enters race number seven of the 2020 championship battle they will face off against one of the most challenging and fun tracks on the series according to the drivers.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car course is a 13 turn rolling layout with long straightaways on the front side, and quick switchback, low speed corners on the back. This race was rescheduled from earlier in the year due to COVID-19 concerns. Now, with sports allowing fans, 6000 sports car fans are excited to see one of the most competitive races of the season.
Before the cars hit the track yesterday, Big news came out of Acura as they announced their Daytona Prototype lineup for 2021. With the Honda and Acura ties to central ohio, it was big news to hear that Meyer Shank Racing, co-owned by Pataskala Ohio native, Michael Shank would be part of that line-up.
Acura 2021 plans
For Meyer-Shank Racing, they continue a long relationship with HPD and Acura, as they have been running the Acrura NSX-GT3’s in GTD, and are the defending class champions. Shank said on Thursday that he had the opportunity to switch his Indycar team to Chevrolet from Honda, but wanted to show his dedication to HPD. He did say, that there was some disapppointment when his team was passed over for Penske Racing two years ago for their DPi program.
Shank added “As a team, we’ve want to go and fight for overall wins for a long time. I am eager to get going with this program. But, we have some work to do first, and we are 100 percent focused on bringing another IMSA championship home with the Acura NSX in 2020.”
Jon Ikeda, Acura Brand Officer said. “We’re confident that both teams will help us build on the successes we’ve achieved to date in IMSA competition.
Also joining the HPD/Acura DPi camp will be Wayne Taylor Racing, as they will make the switch from Cadillac.
Wayne Taylor Racing
WTR has played an important role in winning eight IMSA manufacturer championships and has scored multiple victories in endurance racing’s most iconic events. WTR has scored wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and Six Hours at Watkins Glen.
“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity given to me by HPD and Acura Motorsports,” Taylor said.
“Since getting to know everyone at HPD and Acura Motorsports, I feel that they have a lot of respect for us at WTR.
What I really like is that they have the same passion and vision as I do.
Taylor said, “I am looking forward to running the DPi for the next few years. I am equally excited to be able to bring my long-term partnership with Konica Minolta.
After the excitement of the announcement was over, it was time to focus ahead on the Acura Sports Car Challenge.
It’s a key race for the home town team. Meyer Shank Racing holds a 12 point lead over the AIM-Vassar Sullivan Lexus entering Mid-Ohio.
On Friday, the first practice for all classes took to the track under a setting ohio sun. Juan Pablo Montoya led the way in his Penske Acura.
Montoya, the 2019 DPi champion with teammate Dane Cameron, logged the fastest flying lap in opening practice Friday.
On his final tour around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course, Montoya put in a sizzling lap. The No. 6 turned a lap of one minute, 13.057 seconds (111.266 mph).
The No. 6 Acura has yet to log a podium finish this season. But, for Montoya the twists and turns of Mid-Ohio should suit his car.
“It was good,” he said of his fast lap. “We had some issues there. I think I got like six laps in the car only, so I was pretty happy with that. (The track) seems to suit the car. It’s the better racetrack that our car tends to really handle better than the others.
“Being a handling racetrack, we normally run pretty decent. It seems like everybody is really close. With the slippery racetrack, it makes it really, really difficult.”
The competition was a little tighter in GTD, with the first nine cars separated by less than a half second. Bill Auberlen, the all-time leader in IMSA race wins with 61, topped the GTD class. Auberlen turned a lap at 1:21.861 (99.829 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW.
Practice number 2 for all classes will take to the track at 11am. Qualifying will go green Sunday morning at 8am.