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Winning MSR Acura "super lucky" with Rolex 24 gearbox scare

The Meyer Shank Racing Acura team was "super lucky" that it was able to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona despite having a malfunctioning gearbox for most of the race, according to team founder and co-owner Michael Shank.

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

MSR repeated its 2022 Rolex 24 triumph as it delivered a debut win for the new Acura ARX-06, as Tom Blomqvist led home a one-two for Acura in the #60 car he shared with Colin Braun, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves.

While the MSR Acura was a factor at the front of the field throughout the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship curtain-raiser, the race wasn't without its challenges for the team, as it had to deal with an oil flush issue that also affected the sister Wayne Taylor Racing Acura.

However, post-race Shank also revealed that from lap 200 - around the six-hour mark - the #60 car was also suffering with an overheating gearbox.

"Our car had a gearbox problem all night," said Shank during the winners' press conference. "I mean, all night, and we could not fix it. We decided just to run it until it blew up. It didn't blow up. We got super lucky.

"It was real serious. The guy that really monitors that sits next to me and someone brought him a piece of racers tape that said 90 [degrees] C on it, so we stopped. We just knew it was 90 C.

"[We thought] 'If it goes, it goes'. We kept maintaining the gearbox and fluid levels and trying to fix it literally the whole race."

However, the drivers of the #60 car said they couldn't feel anything amiss at the wheel of the winning Acura. 

"I wasn't until they mentioned about we're losing time on the pits and we mentioned about there was something in the gearbox," said Castroneves. "But I never asked because I didn't want to know the answer and it put something in my head while I was driving.

"What they did was perfect. I never felt anything inside the car."

Blomqvist added: "Luckily it wasn't anything that affected us when we were out on track driving, so that was good.

"We also had a small battery issue towards the end. We couldn't stop the car in the pits the way we needed to, so we had to keep the engine running, and that was always a little bit more stressful."

Blomqvist, who had secured pole in the previous week's Roar test, was installed at the wheel of the MSR Acura for the crucial closing stages of the race, fending off a late charge from Filipe Albuquerque in the WTR machine.

The Anglo-Swedish driver said he was always confident he had the pace to close out the win after crossing the finish line with a final margin of 4.190 seconds.

"My life was made easier with the car that I had under me today and all week," said Blomqvist. "The first time we hit the ground running with this car for the very first time, it was, 'Wow, I think we've got something here.' Every time we drove we were like, 'We're quick.'

"We obviously thought everyone was playing huge games because we were always quick, but I think it proves just how good our car is. And that's just such a congratulations really to everyone who's been a part of this project.

"I was confident that I had the edge over the Cadillacs, to be honest. We were good at the restarts, so I was confident with them behind that I could manage the situation better."

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