Performance Tech Stays Undefeated After Watkins Glen Win
Performance Tech Motorsports maintained the perfect season after winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International in the Prototype Challenge class Sunday, July 2.
This race wasn’t without tests. At the start of the race, James French lost his pole position after Gustavo Yacaman took over in Turn 1. As the cars rounded the track, French found himself slamming on his brakes to avoid a sideways Yacaman who was maneuvering around a slowing Prototype.
French cleared the prototype incident but took a hit from behind from a GT car. The No. 38 PC sustained damage to the left, rear. However, the car’s performance was not affected by the hit. French continued on his mission, passing back the competition to reclaim first place 40 minutes into the race.
“I ended up getting passed in Turn 1 which wasn’t a huge issue,” said French “There was some contact with the prototypes in front of me. Gustavo had to avoid it, I don’t know how he even did it, he was completely sideways, but he did it. To not hit him I had to slam on the brakes, like threshold break. He somehow straightened out the car while he was ahead of me, so he stayed ahead and then the other Bar 1 car got ahead of me. I was running third at this point.
“During that process, the GTLM cars caught up, they were right on my bumper, it was very aggressive. I got tagged through one of the corners. There was a bit of damage but nothing that really cost us any pace. After that, I was able to kind of settle in and finish off my stint.”
Patricio O’Ward took over for French for what turned out to be a two-and-a-half-hour stint. Team Principal Brent O’Neill didn’t intend for such a long stint, but O’Ward’s turn was served over multiple cautions though none of the cautions affected the No. 38 Oreca FLM09. O’Ward maintained the lead for the entirety of his drive. However, his tires were worse for the wear when he entered the pit box to hand off the car to Kyle Masson.
“Before I got in the car Brent told me I was scheduled to be in the car three stints which is about two hours,” O’Ward said. “We went under a lot of caution flags, so I ended up being way over two hours. It was fun though. It was kind of calm honestly.
“I didn’t think we were under pressure much. We just had to keep it clean like we had in Detroit and Austin. We had to fight hard in other cases. In this one, it was just trying to keep the car clean because we had a little bit of damage. So, we kept a look out on that.”
During the pit stop, the team was unable to lift the car to change the tires. The air jack malfunction and forced Masson out on old tires. Masson would run another 45 minutes on top of the two-and-a-half-hours the tires had already been in use. He carefully and steadily led the PC field. Masson pitted once more before the end of the race for tires; the team was allowed to use a floor jack to lift the car.
“This weekend I was really just trying to hold my own and not put them in jeopardy in points or the championship,” Masson said. “I just did my part and put clean laps in and tried to keep it safe. They all did an awesome job this weekend. The team did a great job putting the car back together after one of the incidences we had in practice.
“What was difficult this weekend for me was the lack of time I had in the No. 38. I doubled up again with Prototype Lites and the PC. So, I was unable to get many practice laps due to the schedule of the series’ as well as the crash we had in practice. My first practice laps were basically in the warm up.”
With Fresh tires, Masson set out to claim the win. This round marks Performance Tech’s fifth straight win. It’s also the third consecutive win in the Tequila Patròn North America Endurance Championship after winning both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
O’Neill celebrated on the podium with a trophy of champagne, courtesy of Watkins Glen International, alongside his three drivers. His team leads the PC points championship by 23 points.
“First of all our three guys did a really great job,” O’Neill said. “James, I hate to say it but this why I always start James. He’s very heads up on the starts, and he’s done this enough that his heads on a swivel. He looks at it 360. His evasive move at the start saved us big. At the end of the day, all three of them did a great job. We triple stinted Pato; he did an excellent job out there through all of the cautions. Then when came in to put Kyle in the car, low and behold our air jack wasn’t working. So, we had to send him out on old tires.
“We had already practiced for this specific problem, but you’re never ready for it to happen during the race. It worked out the old-fashioned way. All the guys in the pits did a great job and kept a cool head through it all. With the wave arounds, Bar 1 kept us honest. Every time we turned around, they had a wave around and were right there with us. In the end, we just keep doing what we’re good at, doing perfect pit stops and the guys do great in the car. They kept the car clean other than getting hit on that first lap, and there you go. We were smooth sailing from there.”
Performance Tech Motorsports next competes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario July 9. The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is a two hour and 40-minute sprint race on the 2.459-mile track. The race is broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.