Michael Shank Racing announced that Michael Valiante (LEFT) will replace Ozz Negri in its No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley for the next two Grand-Am Rolex Series rounds, as the Brazilian's recovery from the leg injury that he experienced in off-season training has suffered a setback. Valiante, who raced with the team in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, will share the car with John Pew.
“You hate to have to see Ozz make this decision, but this is what's best for him long term,” said team owner Mike Shank. “He knows that he's got to take a step back, and doing it right now means that he'll have the biggest window possible to recuperate and be ready to go in Detroit. We are lucky to have Michael available to step in, and a huge thanks to John for being flexible with the situation. The good thing is that John and Michael have so much experience working together, so we are fortunate to have a good solution to a really tough situation.”
The Brazilian was able to tough his way through to race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a run to third place and his third Daytona podium result, but will now look forward to returning in Detroit.
“This is one of the hardest things I've had to deal with – just the idea of not being able to be in the car is so tough,” said Negri. “But my doctors agree that this is the best path to take, and I owe everything to this team for supporting me through this. John (Pew) has been great and very understanding – he has as much passion for fitness as I do and he knows that this is the right path for me professionally. I'm eager to get going already, and will be working hard to be back and better than ever in Detroit.”
Valiante is no stranger to Michael Shank Racing, having first worked with the team in 2009 as Pew's full-time teammate. He is also familiar with the role of sub, having scored his most recent Rolex Sports Car Series victory last year when he was stepping in for another driver at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“It's obviously unfortunate for Ozz to have to take a little bit more time to get back to 100%,” said Valiante, who scored pole position at Barber Motorsports Park in 2008. “I hope he's able to get back quickly and I am just going to try to make the most of the opportunity and support the team the best that I can. I've had a lot of great races with John (Pew) and I'm happy that the team gave me the call to jump in here for these two races.”