Sept: Performance Tech Takes Seventh Win
Performance Tech Motorsports pleased French fans with today’s win in the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.
Perhaps the team has fans abroad but these particular French fans belong to none other than the hometown hero himself, James French of Sheboygan. This was French’s first win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road America in the Prototype Challenge class. French also grabbed his sixth TOTAL Pole Award of the season, his third at Road America.
“First thing that comes to mind after this win is, finally,” French said. “We’ve been trying at this for a long time. The first time I did this race, in this car I was 19. There’s not really a lot of things in my life I’ve been trying to do longer than this, so it’s a relief to finally get it done. This is probably the win I wanted the most, so I’m super happy to finally get it. To have all the fans, friends and family around made it special and I was happy to get the win for them.”
This win was Performance Tech’s seventh win in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year. One race remains in the team’s way of completing the perfect season, the Motul Petit Le Mans. Though the number of races remaining has dwindled, the pressure to be perfect only builds.
The Continental Tire Road Race Showcase put the team to the test, reminding drivers and crew that their fate was not yet sealed. The race featured multiple back-to-back yellow flags. The continuous cautions not only forced a change in strategy it forced the field to pack up. On each restart, Patricio O’Ward found himself closer and closer to the No. 26 Bar 1 entry of Gustavo Yacaman.
Performance Tech didn’t expect to have the competition so close, so near the end of the race. O’Ward handled each restart with mature focus and confidence. He steadily maneuvered his way through, what seemed to be, the majority of the GT Daytona field to hold on to the lead. O’Ward drove away from his competition with the outright speed of the No. 38 Neurospine PC.
As the clock wound down, O’Ward created a larger gap between himself and the remainder of the field. He crossed the finish line alone, and in first place once again.
“I’m just happy we got the seventh win of the season,” O’Ward said. “We’re looking forward now to Petit Le Mans to see if we really can go undefeated the whole season. It feels good to get this win because it’s James’ home race. It maybe didn’t go perfectly but we still got the win.
“The second caution, going through those GTD cars was crazy. I thought the Lexus was going to slam into the rear of the car. I just kept it straight going through the end of the back straightaway. After that it was fine, it got pretty hectic though. I was a little scared.”
Team Principal Brent O’Neill focuses on clean races, fast cars, and wins. He ticked off another win on his to-do list but that’s no reason to relax just yet.
“The tension builds as we win each race,” O’Neill said. “The more you win the closer you get to winning them all. It was actually really cool to be able to give James a win at his big event. The guys did a great job this weekend. We didn’t make an error but we made what I would say was the right call until a caution came out and changed that reasoning. At the end of the day it didn’t matter, it wasn’t a big deal. Our car was so good that Pato just drove away from the competition and we got that seventh win.”
Performance Tech Motorsports’ last race is Oct. 7 at Road Atlanta for the Motul Petit Le Mans. It is the final race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2017 season as well as the final race of the PC class. Performance Tech first ran the PC car in the ALMS series, beginning in 2013 and will now retire the No. 38 a champion. For schedule details visit imsa.com.