Performance Tech: Conservatively Strong at Daytona
Performance Tech Motorsports showed strength finishing upfront while running the opening round of IMSA Prototype Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.
In Round One at Daytona Team Principal Brent O’Neill had his mind on finishing. The series his team has spent nearly a decade competing in has morphed into an LMP3 only battlefield. The new three-hour format kept him focused on the endurance of each car and every driver. O’Neill knows his new lineup of drivers boasts plenty of talent, but they need equipment that can take them the distance.
The highest finishing Performance Tech prototype of the race was no surprise, LMP3 Masters Championship Cameron Cassels and James French qualified seventh and finished fifth. This is the first year Cassels has shared his No. 75 NorCan Electric with French and French’s first year in the development series. Both Cassels and French had a look at podium position running as high as third. In the remaining minutes of the race, French held off the approaching pack and maintained his fifth-place finish.
The No. 19 of brothers Bradley Baker and Dean Baker accompanied by former IMSA Prototype Challenge Champion Kyle Masson finished seventh, making for an impressive leap from a 13th qualifying position. The story of the trio’s push to the front was ultimately the trick to gaining position, keeping the car clean. Both Brad Baker and Dean Baker drove clean stints keeping the prototype in the midst of competition. Masson hammered through the field in the remaining hour moving up to the No. 19 Kerr Industries finishing position of seventh.
Newcomer Blake Mount and Julio Compos finished the race in 13th however not before turning one of the fastest laps of the race at 1:44.584. The Scouts of America Race for Prototype Challenge was both Mount and Compos’ debut in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series. However, Compos Daytona experience includes helping Performance Tech earn its first podium finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, a third-place finish in the Prototype Challenge class. Mount qualified and began the race from a promising 12th place, but a brief spin set the No. 7 Hotels.com Ligier JS P3 three laps behind the leader. Compos finished the race as one of the fastest prototypes on track.
Performance Tech Motorsports next IMSA Prototype Challenge race takes place at Sebring International Raceway as part of the Mobil Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advanced Auto Parts. Round Two is a one hour and 45-minute event taking place March 13-16. Before visiting Sebring International Raceway, the team will run the No. 38 Centinel Spine LMP2 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. For schedule, details visit http://imsa.com.
Brent O’Neill, Team Principal
“I was a bit more conservative than usual this race,” O’Neill said. “I wanted to make sure we had good finishes by everybody. For James and Cameron I should have trimmed out the car a little more, but they were really strong in the straight away, so we’ll figure it out. This was huge for everyone. Dean and Brad are gems to work with and Kyle gets to race with them. Kyle kept the car clean just likes James did with Cameron.
“That’s the trick to all of this. We just need to build on this and move to Sebring. Blake did an awesome job. This is a big arena to jump into and he did a wonderful and outstanding job in the car, I can’t say enough about what he did and how he did it. He made one little mistake and we all make mistakes. Again, we just build on it in Sebring.”
Dean Baker, Driver of the No. 19 Kerr Industries Ligier JS P3
“First off, I want to say thank you to Performance Tech for working so hard all weekend for us,” Baker said. “On Friday we had to do an engine replacement, which they were able to finish five minutes before qualifying. My brother Brad did his first laps in the pouring rain and then a monsoon for qualifying so congratulations to him for staying out there and running fast laps. We had a few handling issues we would have liked to work through in practice but we couldn’t but it’s something to work towards for the future. I’m really looking forward to Sebring and seeing what we can do.”
Brad Baker, Driver of the No. 19 Kerr Industries Ligier JS P3
“This was a great start to the season,” Baker said.” “It was so helpful having Bruno here as my coach and driving with my brother was a blast. The team did a great job helping keep us out there and I look forward to the future with Performance Tech.”
Cameron Cassels, Driver of the No. 75 NorCan Electric Ligier JS P3
“This was a busy weekend for me driving the Performance Tech LMP2 and LMP3 cars,” Cassels said. “With the nature of the Roar being busy, I’ve only had six laps in the LMP2 and four laps in the LMP3 prior to the race. James and I had an expectation to finish in the top 10 in the race. This was our first time driving together and overall it was fantastic. Everything we said about the car was exactly the same, our driving styles complement each other.”
“The race went great. I made a mistake in Turn One that cost us some time, but our pace was good, and the car wasn’t hurt. The team did an amazing job getting us prepped with all these cars to work on this weekend. I’m really looking forward to Sebring. I’ve had some really great results there, I know James has as well. Heading into Sebring it’s a really different set up for the car so I can’t wait to see what we can do together there and the future.”
James French, Driver of the No. 75 NorCan Electric Ligier JS P3
“Going into this weekend I didn’t really know what to expect from LMP3 or IMSA Prototype Challenge,” said French. “I was super excited to joining Cameron as he works towards an overall championship after winning the Masters Championship last year. It’s awesome to see him step up this year and I am more than happy to help. This weekend was pretty rushed, with all of the red flags in practice we had six laps each going into the race. With that being said we couldn’t get the car as competitive as we wanted it to be. It was definitely a solid car with good pace for the race. Being in a series with this many cars was amazing, we got to battle the whole time. All and all it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next time.”
Kyle Masson, Driver of the No. 19 Kerr Industries Ligier JS P3
“I feel like today was a very successful day given how the weekend started,” said Masson. “We ended up going out and blowing a head gasket on our first lap, so we had no practice sessions at all going into the race. Brad went out for qualifying and did his first laps in the rain and did a great job. From that point on we didn’t have any setup adjustments, so we went into the race with exactly how the car was.
“I’m really proud of how Brad and Dean did hopping in and getting up to speed. I was really happy with how I performed as well with this being my first race in an LMP3. The LMP2 car is very different, so I had to relearn my driving style. I think if we had another 10 minutes, I could have picked up a couple of more positions. I had to go into fuel conserve mode, but if we had more time, I think you definitely would have seen us finish higher.”
Blake Mount, Driver of the No. 7 Hotels.com Ligier JS P3
“This was a really good weekend,” Mount said. “I got acquainted and comfortable with the team. It was great to back with the team after testing with them in the off months. Julio and I had to face a language barrier at first, but we figured it out and he was actually able to help me a lot. I feel pretty optimistic moving forward. The first race was tough, I made a few mistakes. I was able to learn from the mistakes though and I really can’t wait to move ahead with the season.”