Meyer Shank Racing conducted its first test of its new Acura ARX-05 DPi entry at Daytona this week. MSR full-season drivers Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla were joined by A.J. Allmendinger for the first outing.
With the annual Roar Before the 24 rescheduled to just one week prior to the Rolex 24, owner Mike Shank found it crucial to begin learning the new platform as early on as possible.
“It was absolutely the right decision for us to do this test,” said Shank. “The two days that we were in Daytona were all about learning the car and getting the drivers and engineers comfortable and familiar with it. Having Dane here has been a great resource for everyone since he has three years of experience with the car. He has really set the tone this week and he fits in great with the team.”
Let 2021 begin. First laps coming right up pic.twitter.com/YIjDSSXwZ4
— Meyer Shank Racing (@MeyerShankRac) December 8, 2020
MSR is stepping up to the DPi ranks from its title-winning efforts in GTD with Acura’s NSX GT3.
“It was a very positive test and it all went very well considering it was the first time the team has run the car,” related Pla, who joins the team from Mazda’s DPi program. “We were able to do some laps to understand the car and get comfortable with it, and things like making sure the seat fits. The Acura wasn’t too different from what I am used to. We used the test to learn all of the systems, buttons and strategy so that when the engineer tells you to change something, you know how to do it.
“I’d say that getting used to the traction control and braking was a focus for me. We did rely on Dane a lot since he knows the car so well. There really isn’t a better person to work with and it’s been nice to benefit from his experience.”
The test was a little more of an eye-opener for Allmendinger, who rejoins MSR for Daytona.
“The first run for me was almost like re-living the first time that I got in a Champ Car,” admitted the open-wheel and NASCAR racing veteran. “The first time I hit the throttle it shoved me back in my seat and it was then that I realized how quick the car really was. The braking and the downforce took me some time to get used to. You brake so late, that you have to just trust the grip that the car has and that it is going to stick. It’s really a proper race car that you can attack the corners with.
Always a honor & privilege to drive for my friend/brother Shank & @MeyerShankRac.. 2021 will be my 15th year at the @Rolex24Hours with them. This @HondaRacing_HPD @Acura DPi is simply badass to drive! @danecameron19 @olivierpla @jpmontoya amazing lineup to be a part of! pic.twitter.com/II7HbqWfyS
— AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) December 9, 2020
“You can’t really compare the car to the last prototype I drove, because that was four years ago. It’s just such a big difference in speed. But I’m really excited for the Rolex — it will be my 15th time racing the 24 with Shank.”
Cameron — 2019 DPi champ with Juan Pablo Montoya (who will join MSR for the endurance races) in the Penske-run Acura — was pleased with his new team’s early progress.
“Everyone ran pretty good so far. The guys have done a great job with the car given the short turnaround from when they received it and got it in condition to test,” he noted. “We’re more or less going through everything and we covered a lot of ground. Balance-wise, everything was good and close to where we needed to be.”
Cameron noted that the team, along with its rivals, will be under a little more pressure to get up to speed quickly for the traditional Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session Jan. 22-24 due to its Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race that will set the starting grid for the Rolex 24 the following week.
“We did some good procedural exercises to lay the groundwork for what will be a hectic Roar with the qualifying race. The test has been a good chance for everyone to get in the car. A.J. did a really good job and got up to speed real quick. I’ve been enjoying putting the teacher hat on and it’s accelerated the process for us for sure.”