A Pair of Podium Finishes for Performance Tech at Barber
BIRMINGHAM (April 21, 2018) – Performance Tech Motorsports persevered to prevail this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park with two podium finishes in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Powered by Mazda series.
Round 3 in Alabama marked the halfway point for the six-race series. Limited races remaining heightened the tension on track as well as the incidences. However, Dr. Robert Masson, Leo Lamelas and Will Owen rose above to conquer the weekend with a pair of third-place finishes in their respective classes.
Lamellas and Owen made the most of a strong qualifying effort which placed their No. 7 LMP3 second on the grid. Lamellas handed the car to Owen in second, who entered the race fifth. Owen maneuvered his way through traffic to second place but was almost immediately knocked back by the No. 87, Five Miles Out Racing LMP3.
The No. 87 pushed Owen wide, sending him off course and back to fourth place. Owen made up the lost position, gaining a third-place finish and moving Charles Wicht Racing into second place overall in the championship.
Masson, Windermere, Florida, fought back from a drive-through penalty picked up during the mandatory pit stop. Luckily for Masson, it was one of many penalties seen over the duration of the pit window. He entered the race near the rear of the Mazda Prototype Challenge class field but charged his way back to third. With his podium finish, Masson once again takes over as the points leader in the MPC class.
Cameron Cassel's No. 75 LMP3 started 10th in the LMP3 class and faced a handful of challenges early on in the race. The No. 25 P1 Motorsports LMP3 made contact with Cassels, of British Columbia, Canada, coming out of pit lane, causing a chain reaction of spins and ultimately an overheating clutch. Not to be deterred, Cassels went to work remedying the issue by allowing the clutch to cool.
After making his mandatory pit stop and allowing the clutch to cool Cassels posted his fastest times of the race while keeping pace with the leaders. He finished thirteenth overall. Cassels is the only LMP3 Masters entry that competes with a single driver.
Howard Jacobs, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, saw the cleanest race of all the Performance Tech drivers. The No. 77 MPC from qualified and started ninth. From start to finish Jacobs kept his head down, focusing on running his race and steering clear of on-track drama. He finished ninth place overall and moved up in the championship points standings.
Wyatt Schwab, of Millersville, Pennsylvania, entered the weekend on the charge for championship points as well. He showed speed all weekend, qualifying second in the MPC class. Before the start of the race, Schwab began bringing his car up to temperature and received a warning light signaling overheating. Schwab took the green flag for the beginning of the race, but his race ended early. Engine failure followed the warning light, causing Schwab to retire early.
Stephen Dawes, Sidney, New York, and his No. 22 MPC shared a similar fate as Schwab. He qualified seventh but worked his way up to fifth in record time. Dawes had a strong showing all weekend long, running toward the front of the MPC pack. His lap times during the race were stronger still. However, a spin on the front straight just before the pit window caused damage to the rear of the No. 22. The damage would end his race early.
While the results for Performance Tech were mixed, Team Principal Brent O'Neill was happy with the weekend as a whole. His drivers showed speed regardless of the issues faced during the race, most of which were outside his control.
"It was a good day," O'Neill said. "Cameron had a good run going; he made a little mistake. Once some of the kids get in the car it turns into a little bit of an ugly mess out there. The P1 car came right out of the pits and ran into Cameron going into Turn 5 which caused him to spin. I thought we would be passed that at this point in the season, but I guess not. At the end of the day, Cameron had a great day, and he ran his fastest laps, right up there with the leaders, at the end.
"Robert did a really great job. We actually made a little bit of a mistake in the pits. At the last minute he wanted tires, and we made a mistake by having one too many people out there prepping the tires. That is all on us. He probably would have had something for Chlumecky at the end if it weren't for that. Howard did a great job too. We wanted clean laps, and that's exactly what he gave us."
"The No. 7 had a great run. The Normas ran Will and Leo off a few times, but there's nothing we can do there. Leo and Owen did a great job this weekend; the Charles Wicht Racing crew ran a clean race. I think that puts us second in the P3 championship with this finish. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do in Mosport."
A long break lays ahead of the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Championship. The next race comes in the form of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, from June 6-8. Fans can relive the action from today's race by tuning in May 10 on FOX Sports 2 at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also tune in to watch Performance Tech compete in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship during the Acura Sports Car Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, May 4-6th.
"I'm very excited with a third-place finish and a podium," Wicht said. "The best part is we moved up in the championship. We are second overall, so it's a really great day. It was a great job by our guys other than somebody running off one of our drivers, which we can't control. We're ready to move onto the next race from here."
"We had a good car for practice," Schwab said. "Going into qualifying, we qualified P2. I felt really good going into the race. Before I left the pits, we had realized there was something going on with the motor. I got an overheating warning before heading onto the track, but at that point, we had just to go out and hope for the best. With that being said my guys did fantastic. Franky set the car up exactly how I wanted. Overall it was a good weekend."
"This was probably one of the toughest races I've done," Jacobs said, "Especially for a one hour and 45-minute race. But I love this track and can't wait to race it again. The elevation changes and technical aspects are my favorite. It makes the track really fun.
"My goal was to stay clean and run consistent laps, which is exactly what I did. The plan was to stay out of the carnage, especially with the LMP3's out there. I stayed clean and was able to bring the car back in one piece. I'm happy with today."
"I had contact with another car that had come out after a driver change," Cassels said. "There was contact through two and three, and then again in five which caused a spin. I was chasing the back of the car a lot in the first stint; the car was super free in the back. Then I made a few mistakes. I made an error in Turn 5 and spun the car. I made another mistake a few laps in the bottom of the corkscrew and spun it again.
"Then I heated up the clutch so I couldn't get it started. I limped it back in, took on some fresh tires and then had to take it easy for seven laps while the clutch cooled off. Once the clutch cooled off, there was enough motivation for me to start pushing hard to make up for a few embarrassing mistakes. I had a great second half of the stint. I wish I had made the errors earlier in the first half because I think I would have had a stronger finish."
"I felt much better prepared this year," Dawes said. "The guys did a really good job putting the car together; it's a big difference compared to last year. This year I can articulate to Brent and his crew what I feel in the car. They gave me a good car to drive; I just made a mistake."
"My first race in the LMP3 was really great and a lot of fun," Owen said. "Charles Wicht Racing helped us get a great car. I had a lot to learn about the car. I had never experienced what it would be like at the end and how the tires wore down, so I really had to adapt for that."
"My teammate Leo did an amazing job. He got out of the car in second after a great stint. After that is when all the crazy stuff started happening. I was coming up on a lapped traffic car that should have been an easy pass, I drove right around him, and then he drove straight to the exit of the next corner. I never experienced something like that in racing before. It was a disrespectful move, but that's all-right, you learn from it and have to keep pushing in that situation and keep pushing. I was able to get back up to third and got some good points for the championship which is most important. It was a really great day for the team, and I'm very happy with it."
"I was focused on getting good championship points," Lamellas said. "The first-place car was too fast, and I could not catch him, so I just stayed there in second and ran my race. I wanted to keep the car clean for Will to finish. The crew did a very good job over the whole weekend, and I'm very happy with this podium. I know we'll move up in the championship, so we're in good position for the second half of the season."
Dr. Robert Masson:
"The goal for this was more strategic," Masson said. "I wanted to last the race; survive the whole hour and 45 minutes. I approached it as a marathon rather than a sprint. We had accomplished everything we wanted to do. I didn't want to get caught up in focusing on John and Mike who are incredibly fast, but relative to the points not as big of an issue. I got caught up in some things at the beginning of the race. Poor Wyatt when he had his issue it almost took me out too. I felt bad for Wyatt, to see he had a problem again. Overall, it went exactly as I hoped for me."