Dane Cameron believes that his and Juan Pablo Montoya’s three years of experience with the Acura ARX-05 is able to be “rolled over” to Meyer Shank Racing as its embarks on its first season with the championship-winning package.
Cameron has joined the Ohio-based team as a full-season driver alongside Olivier Pla, with Montoya in the car for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races this year, and AJ Allmemdinger completing the lineup for this weekend’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
A shortened off-season has put teams like MSR up against the clock, although the 2019 IMSA DPi champion feels some level of continuity heading into the 2021 season, namely with the No. 60 Acura DPi being the same chassis he and Montoya completed the previous season with.
“This one was delivered to Mike [Shank] the Sunday after the 12 Hours and we tested here about a week later,” Cameron explained.
“It makes everything easier. It’s the same seats that Juan and I used, the same belts and bungees and all that kind of stuff.
“Things like that in such a compressed off-season when you’re making such a big changeover, just to not have to deal with a lot that kind of stuff removes a lot of headache.
“That can be some of the most difficult stuff to get right, the seating position, getting everybody happy in the car, how to do the driver changes and things like that.
“We were able to roll over a lot of that stuff and not even have to worry about, and just get Oli and AJ happy inside the car and get them fitted and teach them the way Juan and I have been doing things the last couple of years when it comes to the driver changes.”
Cameron said the transition to MSR has been “really good” so far, with the team’s own engineers exploring new areas of car setup, although leaning on his and Montoya’s vast knowledge of the Oreca-chassied DPi contender.
“Obviously it’s a big partnership with HPD here,” Cameron said.
“Everyone has their ideas and tweaks they want to make and [MSR] is exploring the car for the first time. So we’ve got the same guys running the car for three years and they kind of know where to go and not to go.
“When you have a fresh set of eyes on the program, even though Juan and I can say, ‘Well this is what normally happens when we do that’ they still want to do this or try something new just to see what it does because they don’t know.
“For Juan and I, it’s been more about trying to guide them and letting them know if the feeling is right or wrong and just keep things pointed in the right direction with our experience in the car.
“So far everything has been really good.
“The feeling has been similar to how it’s always been when it was with Penske before. It’s just adapting to the day and track conditions.”
Cameron Predicting “Wild Race Ahead”
The HPD driver believes this weekend’s Florida endurance classic will be opposite to what last year’s edition served up, largely because of the number of entries in the field in 49 cars.
“It’s the most cars we’ve had in a long time here, a new category, a lot of new teams, cars, drivers in this event,” Cameron said.
“Last year with fewer cars the pace was just flat-out crazy, all day, big stretches of green flag. I think this is going to be pretty far from that.
“Pace is always important but the pace isn’t so important until you get to the end of the race. I think this race is more about surviving.
“We know our competitors are really strong here. It’s very well suited to the Cadillac for this race. They’ve always run well here historically and it always hasn’t been the best place for the Acura. We’re trying to make progress to see.
“It’s pretty hard to know what to expect. It’s going to be a wild one.”
Montoya added: “At the end of the day, the important thing is to be there at the end to give ourselves a chance. The last three years we had issues with this car.
“I feel like we’ve done everything right.
“If we give ourselves a shot [for the win], I will be happy with that.”