Daytona 24 Winner Meyer Shank Racing Heavily Penalized for Manipulating Tire Data
The team blames an individual with manipulating tire pressures to appear to be within the rules. And despite heavy penalties, the race results will stand.
IMSA announced a series of penalties for the Meyer Shank Racing organization after finding them guilty of manipulating vital data during the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Data from the race-winning No. 60 GTP car of Helio Castroneves, Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, and Simon Pagenaud was confirmed to be manipulated in order to show tire pressures within the margins set by Michelin when in reality they were lower.
While the penalties are severe and will surely have long-lasting effects on the Ohio-based team—as well as with its relationship with Honda Performance Development—the results of the race will not be altered. The drivers will get to keep the trophies, and watches, and remain as Rolex 24 winners. The penalties are as follows:
- Loss of 200 team and driver IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points
- Loss of all team and driver IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup points
- Loss of race prize money
- Team receives a $50,000 fine
- Team and Entrant representative Mike Shank placed on probation through June 30, 2023
- Revocation of IMSA annual credential and indefinite suspension of IMSA membership for team engineer Ryan McCarthy
According to a technical explanation by Racer, the data transmitted to IMSA from the car's sensors had built-in offsets that made it appear to be legal when it actually wasn't. Running a lower air pressure typically allows tires to generate heat faster, which translates into offering better grip sooner. And while teams are able to modify tire pressure on their own, they must always be within the threshold set by Michelin mostly for safety reasons.
Making this entire situation even more dramatic—and frankly disappointing—is that it was HPD who discovered the manipulated data and reported it to IMSA. Nothing like having the people who supply you with engines, chassis, and technical support rat you out as a cheater. (Kudos to HPD)
"We are extremely disappointed in the misconduct of the Meyer Shank Racing team during the Daytona race," read HPD President David Salters' official statement. "We became aware of a problem with data from the #60 MSR car, and after a detailed investigation following the race, we reported our findings to IMSA. HPD does not tolerate any misconduct, delinquency, or data manipulation of any kind. We completely support the action of IMSA in this matter. We have put a huge effort over two years with our chassis partners into the ARX-06 to make the best race car we could. To have this put into question is unacceptable."
Meyer Shank Racing took to its Instagram stories to issue an apology and claim that the person responsible for the data manipulation is no longer with the organization.
"We accept the series' decision and have taken responsibility," read the team's official statement. "We want to apologize to everyone at Acura, HPD, and all of our partners. We have dealt with this issue internally and the team member that was responsible is no longer with the organization. We do not want this error to overshadow the tremendous effort that our team, drivers, and all of our partners have put forth to develop this new LMDh car. We consider this matter closed and are fully focused on resetting and coming back for the Twelve Hours of Sebring."
A few things stand out about MSR's statement. First, it places blame on solely one member of the team. I've reached out to MSR looking for confirmation that this individual acted alone in tampering with the data, and will update this story when it responds. The second is that it refers to the act of data manipulation as an "error" when it clearly wasn't. It was deliberate.
Neither driver of the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 has commented on the situation thus far.
In regards to the future of its relationship with MSR, HPD said, "MSR will continue to be an Acura team and will run the #60 ARX-06 at the upcoming IMSA race in Sebring. We consider this matter closed and won’t be commenting further."
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