Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian has confirmed the driver line-up that the team will field for their debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
The team earned their invitation to compete thanks to the efforts of team driver John Pew, who won the 2015 Trueman Award as the top semi-pro racer in IMSA’s TUSCC last year.
Pew will team with longtime Michael Shank Racing co-driver Ozz Negri with the pair joined by Laurens Vanthoor, the standout GT racing talent making a second consecutive start at Le Mans after racing in a Honda engined Oak Racing Ligier last year.
Michael Shank Racing will see their first on-track action at the Circuit de le Sarthe on June 5th as part of the annual Test Day. Pew and Negri will also participate in the ACO-managed driver certification program that includes time on the Le Mans simulator as well as training in some of the safety procedures that are specific to the event.
“When I first started with Michael Shank Racing in 2007, I never thought that this all would eventually lead to a 2016 Le Mans entry in an LMP2 car,” said Pew. “Le Mans is the pinnacle in the world of sports car racing. What an honor it will be just to race there. Last year we went to Le Mans just to observe and what an awesome event! The crowds, the track, the complete ambience. It is great to partner with Onroak in the Ligier P2 and with Honda. Not only is it an awesome car, but they have Le Mans experience which we hope to draw from.”
“This is a big announcement and a very big project for my entire organization,” said Team Owner Mike Shank. “It is one of the great things about our sport, we can compete on a world level and this gives us the first shot to be able to do that. This collaboration with Onroak is a very big part of our ability to do this, and of course getting the invitation from the ACO is critical, so we appreciate IMSA having the relationship with the organizers that they do.
“We are excited to bring someone like Laurens (Vanthoor) on board for this effort. I got to meet him last year at Le Mans and followed his race. I earmarked him right then and there. In fact I told John (Pew) that if we did Le Mans we needed to consider him and I always had him in the back of my mind so we are fortunate that we were able to sign him. I’m very excited about having everything come together to make this possible, it is the biggest challenge we’ve taken on as a group and we are very, very motivated to do well.”
“I’m more than excited to join Michael Shank Racing for Le Mans!” said Vanthoor, who won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring last year. “Racing at Le Mans is a goal for every driver and especially for me, with my links with Audi, it’s a dream to be successful at Le Mans. Racing for the second time with the same package as the first time is definitely an advantage, I know what to expect and that puts me some steps ahead. I think Michael Shank Racing has big potential. I’ve always been keen on racing in the United States and starting a collaboration with Michael Shank Racing for Le Mans may hopefully continue on with other collaborations in the future, I would be more than happy with that! But first we are heading to Le Mans together and the main goal is to work hard and do our best.”