Performance Tech Scores Top Ten Finishes to End 2019 Season
Performance Tech Motorsports closed out the 2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge season at MICHELIN Raceway Road Atlanta with a one hour and 45-minute sprint race taking home two Top-Ten finishes.
The dash to the finish was filled with mayhem as competitors fought for a final podium. Performance Tech drivers were lucky to avoid most of the drama; however, they did not come away entirely clean. Performance Tech Motorsports saw the No. 7 SOBEL at Home Ligier of Blake Mount and Max Hanratty finish ninth, the No. 75 NorCan Electric Ligier of Cameron Cassels and James French follow in tenth while the No. 19 Kerr Industries of Dean Baker and Kyle Masson was forced to retire early after being caught out in an incident.
Mount and Hanratty had perhaps the most uneventful race of the entire Prototype Challenge field, in the best way. Mount blasted from 13th to ninth over the course of his stint. He steadily turned lap after lap over the course of 45 minutes before handing off the No. 7 to Hanratty. Hanratty followed suit and steered clear of all on-track incidents to finish the race ninth. The Top-Ten finish capped off a successful first pursuit for Mount in the Prototype Challenge series.
Cassels, British Columbia, was one of the first to be affected by the damp, cold track conditions of the 8 a.m. ET race start. He began the race from eleventh and started his charge to the front at the beginning of the green flag. After the first yellow flag turned back to green, Cassels was met with a touch as he and other prototypes contended for position. Cassels spun but quickly continued. He would hustle the No. 75 back to his qualifying position before handing the car off to French. French would advance up to 10th before taking the checkered flag.
Baker and Masson met an unfortunate and early end to the final race of the season after coming off a podium finish at VIRginia International Raceway. Baker made an excellent charge on a slow competitor who moved over into the side of the No. 19, causing the car to spin. Baker had to have assistance recovering the car before continuing on track, thus losing two laps. Baker attempted to gain back his laps before Masson took over driving duties. Masson attempted the same goal before the team made the call to retire the car early. The damage from the spin included detachment of a back panel near the rear right tire. This issue caused slowed performance from the Ligier, which led to the decision to retire.
Performance Tech Motorsports Team Principal Brent O'Neill didn't get much time with his LMP3 team before today's race due to multiple red flags plaguing yesterday's on-track activity. He set his drivers up for the best performance possible with little track time to manipulate any setup. While today's end to the 2019 season provided yet another challenge, he wouldn't have expected anything different.
"If there weren't a little guesswork, it wouldn't be racing," O'Neill said. "The end of the season always brings out jitters for guys, and we saw that all weekend with the number of red flags. I'm proud of our guys for staying calm and running clean all weekend. Everyone did a great job today; you can actually see the change and improvement in their driving. It's a shame for Dean and Cameron to have had those small spins. I would have liked to see Dean and Kyle finish, but I'm glad Cameron and James made a comeback. Blake did an excellent job today; he and Max stayed out of trouble and finished ninth. We'll be back next year and ready for another fight."
Max Hanratty, Driver of the No. 7 Sobel Westex / Hotels.com LMP3
“I think we’ve both grown together quite well this season,” Hanratty said. “We really learned each other’s tendencies and were able to find middle ground with the setup. It was a bit of an unfortunate weekend because Blake got the flu right at the start so he had limited track time. This left me in charge of the setup but Blake jumped in and was able to get right up to speed. He gained four spots and handed it over in eight so I couldn’t be happier with how he did. This was a great season and I can’t thank the team enough for everything they’ve done.”
Blake Mount, Driver of the No. 7 Sobel Westex / Hotels.com LMP3
“Starting from Sebring with Max we immediately started meshing and finished fourth,” Mount said. “That was a fantastic first race and I think it really cemented our relationship as drivers and friends moving forward. We’ve had some bad luck over the season and things didn’t go exactly how we wanted but we developed the car and I learned a lot. I feel that as a driver I’ve grown so much and I’m 10 times more confident than I was at the start of the season. We’ve overcome a lot of challenges this year that I think will carry over into next year so we can go for a championship.”
Cameron Cassels, Driver of the No. 75 NorCan Electric LMP3
“Both this year and last year were real development years,” Cassels said. “My goal this year was to get up to speed quicker at the start of the race which I think I’ve been able to do this year. I unfortunately made a mistake in turn 10 and went off the track. Thankfully a caution came right after and I was able to get my lap back. As a driver, this was a fantastic year. I learned a lot and built confidence myself and the car.”
Dean Baker, Driver of the No. 19 Kerr Industries LMP3
“This was such a great first season for us,” Baker said. “It honestly was so fun and I learned so much. I can’t imagine doing this without Bruno, Kyle and the whole Performance Tech team. Today didn’t go as planned but I can hardly be upset. I’m looking forward to figuring out next season and getting back on track!”
Kyle Masson, Driver of the No. 19 Kerr Industries LMP3
“Today’s race didn’t go the way we wanted but ultimately this was a great year,” Masson said. “We had to retire the car but overall the season was amazing for Dean. I had so much fun driving with the Bakers and helping them grow. They learned so much throughout the year. It was so cool to support them and work with Bruno. It was a great environment for everyone. On top of managing the stress of the race weekend, we always had fun which is what really matters at the end of the day.”