Michael Shank Racing will follow its year of factory support from Acura while debuting the Acura NSX GT3 during the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with a reduced program in 2018.
Team owner Michael Shank announced during a press conference on the second day of the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis six of the eight drivers that will drive a pair of the one-year-old Acuras. Only one of the cars will be entered for the full season in the GT Daytona class.
Lawson Aschenbach will join Justin Marks in driving the No. 93 Acura at all 11 GTD events next year. Mario Farnbacher will come aboard for the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds and AJ Allmendinger will join for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Aschenbach is new to the Acura, having only just acclimated himself with the new car during a recent test at Sebring International Raceway, but is already comfortable with the GTD class given his experience with the recently closed Stevenson Motorsports team. Allmendinger, meanwhile, will return to the team after winning the 2012 Rolex 24 with Shank.
Katherine Legge will — as of now — be the program’s lone returning driver as she joins newcomer Alvaro Parente and two other to-be-announced pilots in the No. 86 entry for the four longer races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.
“We learned so much with this program last year and I was very proud to represent Acura and bring home a pair of wins with the NSX in its first season,” said Shank. “The NSX is phenomenal and we want to build on what we’ve learned so far.
“Having the second entry for the long races and maybe some additional events will also be a boost for the program, between what Katherine already knows about this car from last year and having a guy like Alvaro join us — that will be a second bullet for us in the long races. And people are going to love how these cars are going to look.”
Beyond losing Acura’s attention in terms of budget and engineering support to Team Penske’s new DPi effort in the top-level Prototype class, a new segment of Shank’s resources for 2018 will be going towards a heightened Verizon IndyCar Series program.
The team will reveal the identities of the two remaining drivers for the No. 93 car in the new year.