Dual Podiums: Performance Tech Motorsports Continues Winning Traditions at Sebring
SEBRING, Fla. (March 16, 2018) – Performance Tech Motorsports walked away from Sebring International Raceway with two podium finishes in IMSA Prototype Challenge Powered by Mazda, continuing tradition.
Leo Lamellas and co-driver Patricio O’Ward dominated the field, driving their No. 7 LMP3 to a first-place finish. The pair started from fifth, but fell back as far as 10th during the race. O’Ward charged through the field after the driver change during the mandatory pit window. On his way to finishing first he set the fastest lap of the race. Performance Tech Motorsports and Charles Wicht Racing joined forces for the second round of IPC and are looking forward to running the remainder of the season.
Stephen Dawes third-place finish in the No. 22 MPC joined Lamelas and O’Ward in bringing home hardware this weekend. Dawes is a seasoned veteran in the MPC class and his experience shined through Race Two after patiently picking off competitors from his sixth-place start.
Although this was the second race of the IMSA Prototype Challenge season, many competitors couldn’t help but feel they were starting from scratch. Sebring International Raceway’s track layout is drastically different from Daytona International Speedway giving the teams a steep learning curve. The excitement of both fans and other competitors adds to the electric atmosphere.
The No. 75 LMP3 of Cameron Cassel was plagued by a sampling of competitors with first race jitters. He finished in 11th after being hit on inside of Turn 17 by the No. 44 of AVE Motorsports. He drove back on track after the incident to first place in P3 Masters, only to be hit a second time by the No. 42 of P1 Motorsports.
Dr. Robert Masson in the No. 11 MPC was one of many to fall victim to the rough terrain of Sebring. His front right suspension snapped 30 minutes into the race, jettisoning Masson off track. Masson of Windermere, started from second and quickly overtook the first position but ultimately had to retire early due to the mechanical difficulty. Prior to the issue he was far in front of the MPC field, leading teammate Schwab by 1.5 seconds and the field with a three second gap.
Wyatt Schwab may have been sporting his signature green for St. Patrick’s Day, but the luck of the Irish fell short for him. He started fifth in the No. 18, Schwab was running first in MPC with a sizable lead over the rest of the field when he too had suffered a mechanical issue. This instance an engine complication took the No. 18 Remedia International Inc. out of podium contention. Schwab left Sebring wanting more but proud that once again he proved he had the speed to run up front.
Howard Jacobs rounded out the pack in the No. 77, finishing fifth in MPC. Jacobs, Ft. Lauderdale, seemingly struggled all weekend with electrical issues. Loss of power causing him to run without ability to view any gauges. Jacobs drove an impressive race being in the technological dark, shifting only by ear and feel, much like the legends who drove this track at the time of its creation. Jacobs started the race ninth.
While the results for Performance Tech Motorsports were mixed, Team Principal, Brent O’Neill was happy with the weekend as a whole.
“There’s a few things in racing you can’t control and one of them is the engines,” O’Neill said. “At the end of the day that is out of our control. Wyatt was leading the race with 15 minutes to go and then had an explosion from the engine. Dr. Masson had a part failure as well. There’s nothing we can do about that. I don’t have a crystal ball.”
“Steve was on the podium and did a great job. Howard had an issue with a tire so we had to chase that the whole race. We put together a deal with Charles Wicht and his LMP3 car and put Leo and Pato on the top of the podium. It was a good weekend overall. Everyone drove great, some just didn’t have luck on their side. We can be happy with the racecraft side.”
“I am beyond excited,” Wicht said. “This is a great day and I am so proud of them. As a team owner I couldn’t ask for better drivers. I can’t thank Brent O’Neill and Performance Tech Motorsports enough and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”
“I think the P3 car has the same characteristics and is a pretty similar car to the P2.” O’Ward said. “You still have to push it to its limits and learn what the tire will give you with lateral support and breaking. It’s the same technique and aspect as other cars, but a car like this has so much more power and downforce that you can go way deeper into a turn than you would ever think.
“I think it’s almost harder to go from a faster car to a slower car because the slower car won’t withstand the things you learn from the bigger car. I had to slow things down and go a little smoother. You have less horsepower so if you mess up it hurts you more because you don’t have the momentum coming out of the corner. It was so fun. We were 10th when I got in the car so it was great to pick them off one-by-one and came home with the win.”
“The teams did an awesome job throughout the weekend,” Lamelas said. “This is my second race here in the United States, so for me everything is new. I am trying to have a friendship with everybody here because this is like a family for me, all of the teams. This went very well and I am ready for the next race.”
“This was great. I could have done significantly better. I’m not sure I could have gotten first but I could have been higher up there,” Dawes said. “I made a mistake in Turn 10 and had to fight back. Third’s good, I’ll take it. It’s an improvement from Daytona so we’re moving in the right direction."
“Frustrating race. It seems like its Round One again,” Cassel said. “I got taken out by the 44, we had quite a bit of car on car contact again. I had him on the inside of Turn 17 but I guess he didn’t know who was around him. He just turned into me. It flat spotted my tires so we had to limp around for the remaining portion of my stint.
“After doing our mandatory pit stop I worked my way back up to first in Masters. I had a great car and was having a great run when I got drilled by Robby Foley and a blue a white car. It tore up the back end of my car so then I had to hustle back again and fight for a good finish. It’s very frustrating, I’m wondering what we need to do to get a break. That’s twice now we’ve had first in class and had such great speed. It’s frustrating.”
Dr. Robert Masson
“No question the car was fantastic,” Masson said. “What happened, and I’m supposed to believe this, is just racing. So there you go. I felt really good. I know myself in this car now and it’s a big difference. I can push when I want to and strategize. I can focus on little things and the big picture and I love it. Looking forward to the next race.”
“I think I still have a lot of time to pick up on some things I need to work on,” Schwab said. “I need to work on finding my comfort zone in the car. I think it’s really about growing in myself and my car because I’m still so new to this type of racing. I still have to learn how far I can push the car. This experience is awesome for me, I’m excited to get back in the car and learn more. Never quit pushing.”
“It is a lot tougher to run this track for an hour and 45 minutes than it is to run it for 45 minutes,” Jacobs said. “It’s very rough out there. I’m really proud of how we did today. I had no dash out there so we had no idea what gear I was in, I was shifting by sound. It took a little bit from our speed, but overall it was a really great learning experience. We’ll definitely be back to try again next year.”