A Beast in a Beast: Performance Tech, O'Ward Qualifies Fourth for Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2018) – For qualifying Patricio O'Ward took strict orders from Performance Tech Motorsports Team Principal Brent O'Neill, don't hold back.
O'Ward, from Monterey, Mexico, followed his marching orders from start to finish earning a fourth-place qualifying position. At the green flag, O'Ward drag raced out of the pits. He narrowly beat Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso out of pit lane to assume first on track.
Once turning laps, O'Ward continuously stayed within the top 10 of the Prototype field. Each lap, gaining ground to keep himself within reach of pole. His personal goal was to run a 1.36.5, to safely stay in the top 10 for the start of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
O'Ward was unaware of how close he was in his attempt to reach the time goal. During qualifying his earbuds fell out, leaving him without ability to hear the pit stand. O'Ward didn't need encouragement or reminder though; his final lap time was a 1.36.318.
O'Ward held second until the final few prototypes crossed the finish line pushing him to fourth place. This qualifying was the team and O'Ward's first attempt at qualifying in the Prototype class. Performance Tech was the highest qualifying ORECA P2.
"I'm honestly speechless right now," O'Ward said. "I didn't know where we ended up when I came out of the car. At that point, I predicted some good laps, but I didn't think I did a low thirty-six. My goal was a mid-thirty-six, and I thought that was even pushing it. I'm really proud of myself and really excited right now."
O'Neill wanted to show that though his team may be new to the prototype class, Performance Tech has been here before. It knows what it takes to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona. However, he will still be the first to admit that the stout prototype field is humbling.
"It really isn't easy. I can tell you it's been a battle since we got their car," O'Neill said. "ORECA has been great with support. All of the guys have worked their tails off to try and make the thing go quick. We got a new engineer, so we're all trying to learn, trying to get this thing rolling.
"What can I say about Pato. He finds a way to make the car quick. I actually thought we might have a shot at the front row. The DPIs are just so fast. It's a long race though so you have to be there at the end and we know how to do that. I think we have a pretty quick car. All the drivers are good. I really think we have a pretty good shot at this."
The 56th Annual Rolex 24 festivities begin at 1:05 p.m. ET Saturday, Jan. 27 with driver introductions. Fans are welcome on grid to see their favorite cars and drivers on grid before the twice-around-the-clock endurance event begins. The race officially begins at 2:40 p.m. Saturday and concludes Sunday, Jan. 28 at 2:40 p.m. For a more detailed schedule visit imsa.com.
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