Meyer Shank Racing’s debut in IMSA’s DPi class with Acura delivered puzzling results as the team’s Acura ARX-05 was unable to muster the race-winning speed shown by Acura stablemate Wayne Taylor Racing.
Of the 347 laps led by Acura DPis last month on the road to Rolex 24 At Daytona victory, 337 belonged to WTR’s No. 10 ARX-05 entry. The befuddling part came with the No. 60 MSR Acura – responsible for the other 10 laps – which left the team needing to diagnose the disparity in performance.
Although MSR’s Acura mustered impressive single-lap speed, and strung together short bursts of front-running pace, the No. 60 fell back from its rivals in most Rolex 24 stints and eventually finished fourth. With the next WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round spread across 12 hours of racing at Sebring, Shank’s crew continues to search for the root causes to solve to prevent a repeat of the same problem.
“I wish I could say there was one main thing that caused it; trust me, I was begging for that to happen, but it hasn’t happened as of right now,” he told RACER. “The car is all torn apart now, but yeah, I don’t have an exact answer. The car’s balance was not good enough to stay up front; we could put it in a position to score, but it just couldn’t hold it. A couple of hours to the end there, we got out of pit lane in the lead and I’m like, ‘Okay, here we go.’ And we just didn’t have the pace to keep up with it; we just couldn’t be consistent over 20 or 30 laps. That’s what’s weird.”
MSR took an aggressive approach in trying to find solutions to its performance shortcomings throughout the 24-hour race.
“We worked on the car mightily for the whole night with massive swings at it, changing right heights and some various other things that usually you would never do in a race,” Shank continued. “We had wait and do it under yellow, of course. But unfortunately, we never got to a calm car that everyone was happy with. So that’s where it is.”
The common response to a scenario like the one experienced by MSR at Daytona is to put the car in question, and all the chassis setup tools, through an intensive assessment process in the hope of finding an outlier.
“We go back and we make sure that all of our measuring, how we measure the floors in the bottom of the car are dead perfect on the surface plate,” Shank said. “And we’re building a new car for Sebring that we’re going to test beginning of March at Sebring. So we’ll build a new car for the next part of the season.
“So we’ll take the older Acura out that we raced with and start back at square one to make sure we have the car where we think the car should be, just from being square and flat where it needs to be flat and all that kind of thing, which takes quite an effort, actually, to do that. The floors are so powerful on these cars, but you have to really make sure they’re where they’re supposed to be.”
Shank isn’t concerned about putting the opening round behind the team and moving onto Sebring and the others races with a clean slate.
“Everybody fights these cars now and again,” he said. “At Daytona with [aerodynamic] porpoising, you got to be really careful about right heights and all kinds of different combinations to get the car where you want it. And a lot of people thought it looked like we didn’t have the stronger motor or something, but it wasn’t that. It was something related to balance. And the balance just was a little difficult.”