Pew Satisfied with Le Mans Debut

Photo: Brian Cleary/Michael Shank Racing

By: Kobe Lambeth

IMSA prototype entrant, Michael Shank Racing, had a successful debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by finishing 9th in the LMP2 class with their drivers Ozz Negri Jr, John Pew, and Laurens Vanthoor. A category with Nissan-powered Oreca 05’s and Ligier JS P2’s made up the majority of the field of 23. Michael Shank Racing used a Ligier JS P2-Honda, which is the same chassis Tequila Patrón ESM used to win the first two rounds of the North American Endurance Cup, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring.

The Honda power proved to be an excellent choice as Michael Shank Racing had one of fastest Ligiers in the race. The longtime Michael Shank Racing driver, John Pew, was pleased with his first trip to Circuit de la Sarthe.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Pew.

“Although not on the podium, for our first attempt at Le Mans, I am very happy with ninth in class and finishing the race.”

A great accomplishment for the American team from Ohio finishing the race on debut at the famous twice around the clock French endurance classic. Instead of going for the overall victory, the team had to battle for class honors. Michael Shank Racing is a full-time entrant in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, which has completely different rules than the FIA World Endurance Championship. Did Pew have trouble adjusting to ACO rules?

“There are a lot of differences that took some getting used to,” said Pew.

“The slow zones, and having three safety cars, and flashing blue lights to let you know a faster car is coming behind.  Also, pit stops are different with fueling and tires being done separately, which means a driver change doesn’t have the same time pressure. Also, it took some getting used to the LMP1 cars flying by us.”

Along with having to adjust to a different world of racing, the Ligier JS P2-Honda runs in two different configurations in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and ACO sanctioned series.

“The biggest difference is the difference in tire manufacturer, and using a smaller displacement engine otherwise it’s pretty much the same,” explained Pew.

In ACO sanctioned series, teams are free to choose any tire manufacturer such as Dunlop or Michelin, while IMSA prototype teams must use spec Continental tires. On the engine side, the ACO requires a small 2.8 displacement engine, while IMSA allows the larger 3.5 displacement engine.

After a successful debut at Le Mans, do you think Michael Shank Racing will return next year?

“It’s too far in the future at this point to say, but I would love to go at it again,” said Pew.

The American fans would most likely be thrilled to see Pew and the entire Michael Shank Racing team return to Le Mans and battle for the top step on the podium.

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Photo: Brian Cleary/Michael Shank Racing

With the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the rearview mirror, Michael Shank Racing shifts its focus to the upcoming Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at historic Watkins Glen International. The team continues to ride the momentum from a fantastic result at Le Mans and a victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. John Pew only had a few words to say about him and Ozz Negri Jr taking Michael Shank and the entire team back to victory lane.

“It felt great and was overdue,” stated Pew.

After a few setbacks in the past few years, the team was able to put together a complete race, which led them to the checkered flag. Now being stateside for the remainder of the season, what are the expectations from Michael Shank Racing?

“We can’t always control the outcome, but I am very confident in both the Michael Shank Racing crew and the Ligier HPD package for the rest of the season,” said Pew.

Tune in at 10am EST on Fox Sports 1, Sunday, July 3rd, to watch to No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2-Honda fight for overall victory against the Corvette DP’s, Deltawing, Tequila Patrón ESM, and the Mazda prototypes.

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