Michael Shank Racing has signed Colombian Gustavo Yacaman and Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia to co-drive the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley for the remaining 11 events in the 2013 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season. Pizzonia and Yacaman will utilize the same Ford-powered Riley DPG3 combination as the sister No. 60 Michael Shank Racing effort from John Pew and Ozz Negri.
The new campaign was announced this morning in Bogota, Colombia, with team owner Mike Shank present along with Yacaman and Pizzonia to break the news in a large media event.
“I can't tell you how excited I am to be here, making this announcement with Gustavo and Antonio,” said Shank. “We've been working for a long time to be back to a two-car effort and while there were a lot of good options for us, the biggest thing was to know that we'd be coming to each race with an opportunity to be successful. I really believe that with these two drivers, we've got the tools we need to be competitive, and hopefully this will be a strong platform for us to build on and prepare for 2014 and beyond.”
Yacaman (LEFT) took third in the 2012 Indy Lights Championship after taking two wins (Detroit, Toronto) and scoring pole position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He started the 2012 season with a debut outing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, joining MSR for an impressive run to the podium in his first appearance in the endurance event.
“This is a very exciting day for me and my career, to be joining Mike Shank and looking forward to a full season in the Rolex Series,” said Yacaman, 22. “I know how good this team is, and the racing with these Daytona Prototypes is very competitive and very close so it is something that all the drivers really enjoy. Having a co-driver like Antonio is going to be great--he has a lot of experience and even though he will be new to the Prototypes, I think we will be a strong combination.”
Pizzonia (RIGHT) raced his way up the European open-wheel ladder to compete in Formula 1 with Williams and Jaguar, and subsequently raced in Champ Car with Rocketsports. More recently he has been a regular in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship.
"I am very excited to be joining Michael Shank Racing and to have the opportunity to compete in the Rolex Series,” said Pizzonia. “The racing is very close and competitive, and Mike Shank's team has a lot of experience with the Daytona Prototypes. I am looking forward to racing with Gustavo and quickly learning all the tracks and getting used to racing in America.”
The two open-wheel racers have diversified their experiences ahead of the transition into endurance racing, something that team owner Shank is looking to capitalize on.
“My whole crew, as well as Ozz (Negri) and John (Pew), all come from that open-wheel background and we've been through the transition of knowing what it takes to get results in a short sprint to knowing what it takes to earn podiums in Grand-Am,” said Shank. “So the fact that both Antonio and Gustavo have experience not only in single-seaters, but also in a range of other formats is only going to help them make a quick transition to Rolex Series racing. It's some hard racing!”
MSR and its Rolex Series competition return to action next weekend as Grand-Am makes an inaugural visit to the Circuit of The Americas in Austin