Back to Back Double Duty
Performance Tech Motorsports barely allowed the podium champagne to dry before cleaning up and beginning the trek north to Canada for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix weekend.
Coming off an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win at Watkins Glen International Performance Tech packed up the No. 38 Prototype Challenge and the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda cars. The team only had two days before crossing the border. This is the quickest turnaround of the season and the first back to back weekend to include both the WeatherTech PC and IMSA PC.
The pressure is on as the drivers quickly acclimate themselves to another track. Patricio O’Ward once again finds himself on another unfamiliar course. Though he has shown great talent for quickly learning new places, a high-speed track like Canadian Tire Motorsport Park adds a new level of difficulty. James French will be on hand to help with the nuances of CTMP. In 2016, he finished fourth in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix with Performance Tech.
Team Principal Brent O’Neill knows his guys will work together to have the car dialed in for the race. There’s no doubt in his mind about his driver’s ability either. After securing another endurance win, he’s entering the next race with a new goal in mind; to go for the undefeated season.
“We’re in a good place right now, and everyone is feeling confident in what we can do,” O’Neill said. “One of the things we’re working on for Mosport is slowing Pato down. Pato runs as hard as he can every lap. Which in endurance racing, you know, you have to dial it back sometimes. He doesn’t have that ability. The kid is a machine, he just goes. At Mosport, it’s so fast, if something happens it happens big there. So, we’re focused on not making mistakes. We talked while we were at The Glen and Pato understands.
“James is so aware of what goes on around him we don’t worry about him too much. Again, that’s why we start with him because he’s good in those situations. He’s on a cruise control. I think to go into Mosport after winning at The Glen; we’re going for the undefeated season. We’ve proven ourselves winning the last three endurance races, and now we have three races left in the season for the PC. We’re up for the challenge.”
For the IMSA PC drivers, the quick turnaround may be more of a blessing than a curse. They’ve had nearly two months of delay put between prior race events. CTMP is the first time they’ll be able to carry over what they learned from the previous race weekend. O’Neill believes he’ll see a large improvement in his drivers due to the lack of downtime.
“I think this will be good for the gentleman guys,” O’Neill said. “It’ll help them excel having back to back race. Before it was like they’d have to start over again, the tracks are similar too so that should help. They both have high-speed corners; actually, CTMP is faster. There is a different setup to the cars, but the feeling of the course will be similar. I think they’ll do pretty good there; it’s a good transition. Kyle has experience there to help him out. They’re all excited about going.”
The IMSA PC lineup for CTMP includes MPC class points leader Kyle Masson as well as Dr. Robert Masson, Stephen Dawes and Howard Jacobs. The only driver to miss out on the trip to CTMP is Andres Gutierrez who had a scheduled family commitment to attend.
The cars take to the track Friday, July 7 for a day full of practice for both the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda. Saturday, July 8 is qualifying day for both series. IMSA PC qualifies at 10:40 a.m. ET and shortly after the No. 38 takes its turn qualifying at 12:55 p.m.
IMSA PC wraps up Saturday with Race One at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 9 kicks off with IMSA PC’s final race of the weekend at 9:30 a.m. then at 12:05 p.m. the green flag drops for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1. The IMSA PC races will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2 Thursday, July 27 from 8 to 9 p.m. ET.