BOWMANVILLE, On. (July 10, 2018) – Performance Tech Motorsports and several other IMSA Prototype Challenge powered by Mazda teams had finishing positions stripped from entries post-race due to a retroactive penalty.
The one hour and 45-minute race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park served as Round 4 in the six-race series. With the championship looming in the distance tensions rose resulting in 28 minutes and 35 seconds of yellow flag conditions. Full course caution No. 3, an 11-minute yellow during the pit window, became the demise of MPC winners Dr. Robert Masson and Kyle Masson, LMP3 pole sitters Leo Lamelas and Roman De Angelis, and several other Prototype Challenge, competitors.
Dr. Robert Masson, Windemere, Florida, topped the charts all weekend and qualified the No. 11 Masson Spine Institute MPC second in class. When the pit window opened Robert Masson sat firmly in first place. The team strategy called for Robert Masson to stay in the car for 33 laps giving Kyle Masson 52 minutes and 26 seconds of drive time. The schedule played out as planned until a full course caution came out on lap 34 placing Performance Tech and many others in a lose-lose situation; pit under yellow and face a penalty or wait for the green and risk going over on drive time.
Performance Tech decided to wait for the course to go green, the same decision made by every team in the same position. The green flag flew at the one hour and three-minute mark. Robert Masson immediately pulled into the pitlane. Kyle Masson took the wheel with 36 minutes remaining, placing him four minutes under on drive time. Kyle Masson joined the field in second place, with no word of a penalty from IMSA officials. After a fair battle with the No. 77 of James French, Kyle Masson overtook for first place and won the race. It was not until Sunday evening that the team was notified of the penalty the No. 11 and several others would serve for this circumstantial issue.
The Charles Wicht Racing / Performance Tech Motorsports No. 7 LMP3 of Leo Lamelas and Roman De Angelis faced a similar fate this weekend. Lamelas started the race from first overall and never looked back. When he entered pit lane for the mandatory pit stop and driver change he was in first with an over five second lead on the field. Upon pulling into the pit box, the crew found that the car was a few inches past the fuel rig. The CWR crew sprang into action, rolling the car back the necessary distance before doing any other work to the car.
IMSA deemed there were too many crew touching the car when it was rolled back stating that the designated fire-bottle crew member cannot touch the car. The officials are unaware of the assigned role for each member over the wall making the reason for this penalty a topic of controversy. While the allowed number of crew were over the wall, De Angelis was forced to serve a drive-thru penalty. The penalty moved De Angelis from first to eight, leaving him a lap down with just 45 minutes remaining.
After finishing the race in seventh the No. 7 received the same penalty as the No. 11. The two cars were on the same strategy. A pit on lap 34 gave De Angelis 52 minutes and 26 seconds of drive time. Due to the yellow at lap 34 the No. 75 waited 11 minutes extra to pit resulting in De Angelis being three minutes short on the minimum drive time. Though it was clear the duo had the pace to win, the penalties landed Lamelas and De Angelis with a sixteenth-place finish.
While Performance Tech saw two podiums torn away this weekend, it was still ecstatic to see the No. 77 Cardio Access MPC of Howard Jacobs, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and James French, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, come out on top. Like the Massons, French and Jacobs were a new driver pairing this weekend. Jacobs drove one of his best races to date, qualifying seventh and maintaining the position until he handed the MPC off to French. French picked off competitors one by one eventually finding himself in second, where he would finish the race. After the penalization of the No. 11 French and Howards were awarded first place.
Stephen Dawes, Sidney, New York, had the smoothest race of his career. Dawes started from sixth and held strong there through traffic and fierce competition. As the only solo driver of the Performance Tech lineup this weekend Dawes had the weight of the race and the championship on his shoulders. He prevailed, finishing sixth but later moved up to fourth due to the multiple penalties.
Cameron Cassels, British Columbia, rounded out the pack this weekend with the addition of his co-driver, Trent Hindman, Long Branch, New Jersey. Cassels started 10th but was hit and spun on the first lap by the No. 25 of Joel Janco, requiring Cassels to pit for a new set of tires. Cassels made up the lost lap when he pulled into the pits just before a full course yellow came out. Hindman drove the car from 14th to seventh in the remaining time of the race. The finish of the No. 75 is still confirmed as seventh.
“This weekend was a rough break,” Team Principal Brent O’Neill said. “It was awesome watching Robert and Kyle be able to drive and win together, but it just gut me to watch It taken away from them like that. The same goes for Leo and Roman. To watch drivers be so dominant and then have it taken away over a call like that in a development series is just crazy.”
“Stephen was great out there. He was the only one of our drivers who went single and he really killed it. This also was one of the best races I’ve ever seen Howard drive. I think him and James were a really good pairing and there could be something there for the future. Cameron and Trent had real potential this weekend, it killed me to see them taken out like that at the start. Overall it was a good weekend and I’m excited to see what we can do at VIR.”
Over a month lays between now and the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda’s next race. It comes in the form of the GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway, from Aug. 16-19. Fans can relive the drama from today’s race July 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Fans also can tune in to watch Performance Tech compete in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship during the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America, from Aug. 3-5.