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Rolex 24 winner Meyer Shank gets big penalty for manipulating tire data; will keep victory

Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - JANUARY 29: (L-R) Simon Pagenaud, Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist and Helio Castroneves, drivers of The #60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06 celebrate in victory lane after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 29, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

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Meyer Shank Racing’s winning team in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona has received a massive penalty for manipulation of tire pressure data during the Jan. 28-29 race but will keep its victory, trophy and winner’s watches.

MSR’s No. 60 Acura, which also won the 2022 season championship in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship premier prototype category, was penalized 200 drivers and team points Wednesday as well as all points toward the Michelin Endurance Cup.

The team also was fined $50,000 and lost all of its race prize money. Team engineer Ryan McCarthy has been suspended indefinitely by IMSA, and team owner Mike Shank was placed on probation through June 30.

An MSR spokesman said the team won’t exercise its right to appeal the penalty.

“We accept the series’ decision and have taken responsibility,” the team said in a 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.”

In a statement Wednesday, IMSA said it became aware of the potential manipulation of its monitoring of tire pressure data after the completion of its postrace technical inspection. IMSA said the manipulation was discovered by Honda Performance Development and reported to the sanctioning body after the official results were released.

“We are extremely disappointed in the misconduct of the Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) team during the Daytona race,” David Salters, president and technical director for Honda Performance Development, said in a 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.“

Asked by NBC Sports whether the penalty would impact HPD’s relationship with Meyer Shank Racing (which also fields Hondas in the NTT IndyCar Series), Honda & Acura Motorsports manager Chuck Schifsky said HPD “will not be commenting further on this matter at this time.”

Schifsky confirmed MSR’s No. 60 Acura will be racing March 18 in the Twelve Hours of Sebring.

There will be no changes to the GTP manufacturer points standings, which include Acura, Cadillac, Porsche and BMW.

Acura also has an ARX-06 fielded by Wayne Taylor Racing, which finished second in the 2023 Rolex 24 that featured the debut of the LMDh hybrid prototype cars in the rebranded GTP category.

IMSA subsequently reviewed the tire pressure data for the other eight cars in the Grand Touring Prototype category before concluding its investigation and announcing the penalties Wednesday, nearly six weeks after the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 60 ARX-06 was driven by Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves. It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR.

The No. 60 was exceptionally quick throughout January on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona. Blomqvist turned a blistering lap to snatch the pole position, and the car led multiple practice sessions.

During the race, the No. 60 led a race-high 365 of 783 laps.

IMSA has been monitoring tire pressures in the Rolex 24 since 2022, mandating specified minimums for teams after several failures in the 2021 race.

MSR was found to have violated IMSA Sporting Regulation & SSR rule ATT3.6.6.E (failure to adhere to operational requirements) and 3.6.6.D -- intentional application of software offsets within the pressures being reported by the tire pressure monitoring system and associated car telemetry system is prohibited and may be subject to penalty.