Around the Corner to 2019
Performance Tech Motorsports completed the official Michelin December Test at Daytona International Speedway with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the 2019 season.
Performance Tech brought part of its 2019 lineup which features the No. 38 ORECA LMP2 as well as three LMP3 cars. Performance Tech was the single LMP2 team at the test and therefore solely represented the new LMP2 Class. The 2018 State of the Series Address noted the LMP2 prototypes would have a separate class championship in 2019. Most recently IMSA announced the class schedule, giving LMP2 an eight round, permanent circuit schedule on some of Americas greatest sports car courses.
With the Roar closing in, the December test was a necessary must for IMSA Prototype Challenge drivers hoping to get back into the swing of the racing season. The IMSA Prototype Challenge series kicks off Jan. 4-6 at Daytona as the standalone race during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend. Blake Mount and Cameron Cassels selected to participate in the test, focusing on learning how the new Michelin tires will hold up to the various conditions Daytona offers. The Prototype Challenge series was one of the three series up for change when IMSA named Michelin Tires the official tire partner.
Team Principal Brent O’Neill was happy to walk away from the test with all cars intact and positive results to guide them into the start of the race season.
“Testing the tires was the big thing,” O’Neill said. “We did long runs, short runs, tested camber and pressures. We had a run list of things to work through over the day. It was good to work with Michelin; they were really helpful.
“Michelin was very serious at keeping this a tire test. Which was really cool. They would confiscate beacons. They had guys on bikes riding around checking for them. They have it figured out; they know what they’re doing. They’re a big company they’ve got it going on.”
While the tires were undoubtedly the star of the show, it shouldn’t go undetected who was behind the wheel of each prototype. While Mount piloted his own LMP3 Cassels shared his with driver James French. French and Cassels were announced as 2019 teammates shortly after Petit Le Mans. This test was the first time the duo had shared a car since the announcement.
Teammate Kyle Masson joined French as they took turns in the No. 38 Prototype. The driver pair is set to tackle the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship once again together. Masson and French were joined by LMP3 driver Andrew Evans and MPC driver Dr. Robert Masson in testing the LMP2. Robert Masson has yet to announce his official plans for 2019. While lap time data was unavailable during the test, it was clear Robert Masson is ready to make the jump if he chooses to move into the LMP2 class.
“We left with a lot of data, so we’re in good shape for the Roar,” O’Neill said. “We had a really good day yesterday. The P2 Car was fast, and Cameron and James tested together. They did great. Cameron was all smiling all day. They will be a great pairing. Dr. Masson, Andrew, Kyle and James and even Cameron drove the P2 car. We didn’t have any issues while at the test, no damage.
“We know what direction we need to go. The switch over to Michelin has been good. We had an idea from back in the day when we ran with Michelin on the Viper. Back then it was the Michelin Customer Tire in ALMS. So, the test was an easy transition. They have a different way of how to get tires done, but at the end of the day it works out for everyone.”
Performance Tech Motorsports is back at Daytona International Speedway Jan. 4-6 with all four prototypes for the Roar Before the Rolex 24. The No. 38 LMP2 will test and compete for garage position for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in a mock qualifying run. Cassels, Mount and Brad Baker will compete in the opening round of IMSA Prototype Challenge. The event is a three-hour endurance race on the 3.56-mile track. For more event details visit imsa.com.