Dr. Masson Takes Overall MPC Win at Daytona International Speedway: Performance Tech Motorsports Starts Strong Season
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 6, 2018) - Performance Tech Motorsports has its first win in the books for the 2018 season of IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.
Dr. Robert Masson led the charge across the finish line at Daytona International Speedway for the Mazda Prototype Challenge class collecting his first overall win. His victory comes just weeks before the anniversary of son Kyle Masson’s win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He also set the fastest lap of the race with a lap time of 1:51.732. This is his second year competing in the series; he finished second in the MPC Masters Championship in 2017.
However, many competitors would agree this year IMSA Prototype Challenge feels like an entirely different series. Performance Tech felt the differences as the team navigated mandatory four-minute pit stops. The strategy was no easy task with five cars representing Performance Tech Motorsports on track.
In the LMP3 class newcomer, Cameron Cassels made a rookie season look good. Cassels, Coldstream, British Columbia, qualified his No. 75 Ligier P3 third in the Masters Championship, seventh overall. He worked his way through the field to first in Masters with an ambitious pass before pitting at the one hour mark. Cassels maintained position after his pit stop but fell back when he made contact with the No. 44 P3 of Ave Motorsports while defending his position. Cassels finished the day seventh.
In MPC Dr. Masson, Windermere, lit up the start of the race with an immediate grab for the lead after starting third. Dr. Masson settled into the endurance event by keeping pace steering clear of competition. This allowed teammate Wyatt Schwab to reclaim his position upfront a few laps into the race.
Schwab, of Millersville, Pennsylvania, began the race from pole and proved he deserved to be there by creating a 30-second gap between himself and the remainder of the MPC field. He held the top spot for 15-minutes before hitting a piece of debris on the track. The debris caused damage to the front left of the No. 18. Schwab limped back to pit lane where the crew removed bodywork and sent him back into the race. Schwab fought back to finish seventh.
While Dr. Masson and Schwab were settling into the race, Howard Jacobs was sorting his out. Jacobs had a sensor issue in his No. 77 MPC bring him into pit lane at the start of the race. The team had the problem fixed, and Jacobs reentered the race 10 laps down from the leader. Jacobs, Ft. Lauderdale, hit his stride near the end of the race, turning some of his fastest laps of the race turning a 1:55.324. He would finish eleventh.
Stephen Dawes, Sidney, New York, quietly ran one of his most successful races. Finishing just off of the podium in fourth Dawes picked off positions from his seventh-place starting position. At the start of his second season, Dawes showed that the offseason served him well. His skill and racecraft development were highlighted in his handling of the No. 22 MPC.
Team Principal Brent O’Neill knew his team would start the year off strong. Although not every driver ended Race One where he was hoping to, O’Neill felt his team proved that it would once again be championship contenders.
“We’re all really excited for Dr. Masson and to see him take home his first win,” O’Neill said. “He put in a lot of work this off season and really he wasn’t that far off last year. I think it’s all just coming together for him this year. He’ll be really strong. Wyatt, it’s really a shame. The kid is so fast and I think he and Masson would have battled it out at the end if it weren’t for the debris. There probably should have been a yellow for that, to get it out of the way.
“It was a shame for Cameron too, he was running up front in the Masters Championship. He’s really a talented driver. He’s one of the only guys not splitting his time in the car so I think he’ll be more comfortable in the car and be way ahead of the competition. Stephen and Howard did a great job. They were so steady out there. We had a little issue with Howard’s car but got it fixed and had him back out. They’re really going to grow this year now that they have a season under their belt. I expect that we’ll see more people on podium at Sebring.
“I really focused on getting my head back in the game and telling myself it wasn’t the end, we still had a lot of time left in the session.
As far as driving with no downforce the car had no front noise, no splitter, pulling the car back to 7th was really good so I’m happy with it. It's racing, not winning. I’m happy with it.
As far as the race format, I definitely had a goal just to keep pushing and pushing, cautiously and early. This year I have a goal to go faster earlier with the strategy of waiting until the end to push hard. I felt like I could hold on longer than them, they disappeared as I drove away. My kid won the 24-hour last year and was the anniversary almost, so I really wanted to follow up and chase my son.
I started this because my son was passionate about it and it got me into racing. The team did an incredible job. I had a lot of technical issues with my car all of yesterday through this morning. The difference between me last year and me this year is, I’m a lot calmer now. Last year, I was very much a rookie, and now I’m actually comfortable. I felt that difference today.
I think this year is going to be different than last year at least, so far I only have one slide so far this year. I think since we're used to the cars it is going to be that much better. The format doesn’t really matter whether we have two 45-minute races or one, hour and 45-minute race, throwing the pit stop in there was pretty fun. It was different which made it that much more fun. At the end of the day, I don’t do this for a living, so I enjoyed it and just had a really good time.
We ran into a sensor issue going into qualifying that we thought we had fixed but going into the second lap of the race we realized we hadn’t. I wasn’t able to shift out of fifth gear, and I had a bad wobble, so I brought it into pitlane. It took about ten laps to fix it. The pace was really good after we recovered, but by that point, we were done. Nothing to be disappointed about, it’s racing. I was very very pleased. I love this track; I love the guys I race with so it was just a lot of fun.
"The guys put together a fantastic car. For me to try to get confident in a car that I’ve never raced in, and this is new to me, it’s like Conti was a few years ago; it’s like drinking out of a firehose. The car was great at the start and then we chucked all the way out in Turn 5 and had to make out those positions. It turned out well for us; we moved through the field. Then I made contact toward the last hour of the race.
“I got hit in Turn 1 by No. 44 and then we just got together in Turn 3 when I tried to retake the position. It’s just one of those racing deals; I ended up eating the penalty on that one. The cars are absolutely terrifying here at first, on the high banks with the crosswinds there’s a lot to learn. I can’t wait until Sebring. Sebring is a great track for me. This car at Sebring should be a lot of fun.”