Toyota Atlantic stalwart Michael Shank Racing has revealed that it will field a Toyota-powered Doran JE-4 in the Daytona Prototype division of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series next season.

"We're extremely pleased to be able to make this announcement," stated MSR owner Michael Shank, "After seven years of competing for championships and winning our share of races and poles in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, we started looking for a racing series that made more sense for us, both competitively and financially.

"And, once we researched all the options available, we came to the conclusion that the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series was where we wanted to be. We really believe in the series' leadership and the concepts that they have established, and we think they are well on their way to taking sportscar racing to a new level here in North America.

"What really excites us about competing in the Rolex Series is that we've been able to put together a chassis and engine combination that we're confident will allow us to challenge for poles and wins - starting with our very first race at Daytona. We feel that the Daytona Prototype Doran JE-4 chassis built by Kevin Doran and his 2003
championship-winning organisation will provide the best aero and mechanical package available, and we know, from our experience with Toyota in the Atlantic series, that they will do whatever it takes to be the premier manufacturer in the category while offering unparalleled support."

MSR is currently in talks with several drivers about contesting the Rolex 24, as well as the full twelve-race 2004 Rolex Series schedule.

"Michael Shank Racing is another welcome addition to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series," said Jim France, chief executive officer of the International Speedway Corporation, "Mike Shank was voted car owner of the year twice in the Toyota Atlantic Series, and his record for finding young driving talent - including Sam Hornish and Kenny Wilden - speaks for itself.

"MSR will be a great addition to the competitiveness of the Rolex Series, joining a stellar group of teams to create a tremendous show for the fans. This is shaping up as one of the most exciting road racing seasons in years, and I can't wait for it to open with the 42nd anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona."

"It's great to see a professional racing team coming to sportscar endurance racing from the open-wheel ranks," echoed Grand American president Roger Edmondson, "Primarily, most of our growth has come within the sportscar ranks, and hopefully this is the start of a new trend. Mike and his team have a very impressive resume, and they are a very welcome addition to our series."

MSR becomes the second team to field a Toyota-powered Doran in the Grand-Am series, following on from the works team which joined the 2003 campaign midway through the year.

"We are very proud to have such a strong team join the Rolex Series with the Toyota Doran Designs JE-4 Daytona Prototype," stated marque founder Kevin Doran, "I believe Mike Shank Racing will prove to be a leader in this sport in a very short time.

"With the present momentum in this series, and teams like Mike Shank Racing coming on board, the future has never looked better for sportscar racing. I am looking forward to a winning relationship with the MSR team."

"We're thrilled to be a partner with another proven team like Michael Shank Racing, a team that we've been associated with for a number of years through our relationship in the Toyota Atlantic Series," added Toyota's national motorsport manager Les Unger, "Mike Shank has helped develop some top-flight young racing talent in the past few years, and we're confident that he'll continue to enjoy that type of success in Grand American Rolex Sports Car competition."

The team is slated to begin its winter testing programme at Homestead-Miami Speedway on 19-20 December in preparation for the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona on 1 February.

 

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