Performance Tech Motorsports Respects The Bumps
SEBRING, Fla. (March 17, 2018) – Just because you respect the bumps does not mean they respect you back.
Performance Tech Motorsports faced many trials and tribulations at this year’s Mobile 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advanced Auto Parts, but the team never lost pace.
Performance Tech finished thirteenth in the Prototype Class after being plagued with a long list of mechanical aliments typical of racing at Sebring. However, amid the race ending clutch issues, driver lap times never dropped and neither did the spirits of the Florida based team. Performance Tech once again proved it could hold its own at the top tier of sports car racing in North America.
“I hate to end like this, especially when the car had pace. The team had pace. The drivers had pace,” Team Principal, Brent O’Neill said. “It really is a learning curve for them. You can’t jump in and go just because you drove a Prototype Challenge car. You have to learn the idiosyncrasies of the car, the breaking, everything, but they did awesome. In the race we were on pace.”
“If you separate DPI and LMP2 we were on pace if not quicker than all of the other P2 cars. Even tonight before the clutch finally failed, Pato was quicker than all of the other P2 cars. It was a good race. A rough ending, but we’re not the only ones ending the race this way.”
Performance Tech’s day ended shortly after Patricio O’Ward took the wheel of the No. 38 Centinel Spine Prototype for his final stint. O’Ward continued to top the LMP2 charts lap after lap when clutch overheated to a breaking point. This came after the No. 38 suffered a shattered front left brake and sustained damage from contact on track.
While the drivers kept impressive pace on the track, the crew was working at an equally impressive pace off track. Over the course of ten-hours and four incidents, the team only lost a total of seven laps. In that time the crew put new brakes on the car, repaired the body work and kept a careful eye on the clutch.
Co-driver Kyle Masson, Windermere, faced his fair share of clutch issues as well. Masson spent his last stint finding the balance between running fast lap times and keeping the clutch cool. He did this all while driving by muscle memory due to the blinding sunset.
James French took his final spin around Sebring just before sunset. He faced his own battles throughout his race. While entering Turn 10 French reported a loss of right front brakes, just laps after being hit at the exit of Turn 17. The broken brake pad was the first of his troubles. French was in the car when the No. 38 made contact with the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Prototype.
Though Sebring’s rough terrain won the race, at the end of the Day One thing is clear; Performance Tech Motorsports has the speed and consistency it takes to be a top contender and that in itself is a victory.
Next up on Performance Tech's schedule is the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix in Long Beach, April 13-14. This will be the team’s first time back to the 1.97-mile street course since 2016. The team took home a win in its last California venture.
“I think we have definitely shown speed straight from Daytona,” Patricio O’Ward said. “I think we just need to piece everything together because everyone is still a rookie with this car. It is hard to compete against all of these big manufacturer teams like Penske and Mazda. We just have to keep working. I know they’ll be ready for the next race.”
“It was unlucky that we had all of these failures during the race but this track is known to break things. It left us drivers beat up and the car broken, so it definitely was a learning experience. Every lap is a chance to learn so I’m really thankful for the seat time. I’m happy for this opportunity and it was great to race against such big names. I’m looking forward to doing this next year.”
“The race started off really good for me,” Kyle Masson said. “It was the middle of the day when my first stint started so it was really hot. The car felt great especially since I had my first set of stickers this weekend. The race was the most amount of time I’ve gotten in the car since Daytona (International Speedway) due to the damage from the Rolex 24. I was really happy with myself for being able to keep up with the top LMP2 teams in the middle of the day.”
“The race toward the end had quite a few issues. After the brakes failed my confidence in them waivered. I went out uncertain about the breaks as well as being blinded into Turns 7 and 17. My times and confidence dropped. Then we started having issues with the clutch. I was able to hand it off to Pato but it didn’t last long after that.”
“I think going into the weekend we had a lot of unknowns,” French said. “We didn’t have time for any testing here, we didn’t have time on the non-Daytona tire. So, just a lot of variables going into the weekend. I think we were able to make the right setup changes and find some good pace out of the car to make everyone comfortable.
“We learned a ton for our first time here with this car. We were competitive in this race. Everyone on the team did a fantastic job, we had fantastic pit stops. It was all going smoothly until I had the unfortunate contact with the No. 5 when I tried to dive into the pits. I really feel terrible about that. Despite the incidence and the other issues, I think we learned a lot and it was a good weekend.”