Performance Tech Earns Podium Finish at VIR
Performance Tech Motorsports earned its first IMSA Prototype Challenge podium finish of the 2019 season at VIRginia International Raceway.
The No. 19 Kerr Industries Ligier JS LMP3 of Dean Baker and Kyle Masson blazed a trail for its teammates this weekend. Baker qualified the No. 19 third, an all-time personal best while Masson crossed the finish line in third after an hour and 45-minute battle, another best for Baker and a season-best for the Performance Tech Motorsports team. While Masson is the 2017 IMSA Prototype Challenge Champion, this is his best finish in the LMP3 prototype. Masson and Baker overcame intermitted rain and restarted embodying the idea that racing in the rain is genuinely an art.
Behind Baker and Masson was the No. 75 NorCan Electric Ligier JS LMP3 of Cameron Cassels and James French. The duo persevered through the inclement weather and on-track drama to steadily climb through the Prototype Challenge field. Cassels survived multiple cars spinning off at the start and picked his competition off one by one to hand over a clean car to French. French busied himself doing the same until a 20-minute caution slowed his progress through the field. French carefully kept his No. 75 machine from overheating, a fate that met other competitors under the caution. He would push to the finish and take home a sixth-place finish.
Closely following Cassels and French across the finish line was the No. 7 Sobel Westex/ Hotels.com Ligier JS LMP3 of Blake Mount and Max Hanratty. Mount and Hanratty would easily earn a hard charger award for their combined effort. The duo began the race 20th overall and finished safely inside the top 10 in seventh. Mount pushed his way up to eighth before pit stop rotations began, he too avoided the many incidents that plagued the race. The rookie was seemingly unphased by the rain, and it did not seem to bother co-driver Hanratty. Hanratty picked up where Mount left off, fighting back through traffic as the pit stop rounds continued. He easily climbed back through the field to finish seventh overall.
Team Principal Brent O’Neill was proud to see the additional effort the team had placed on the LMP3 program showcased with three top-ten finishes.
“Everyone did an awesome job today,” O’Neill said. “Dean did a great job in his opening stint, and Kyle finished it off with a fantastic drive. The weather was pretty treacherous, but it was exciting to see this race unfold. We have been working really hard on the P3 program and to have all three cars inside the top 10 feels pretty cool.
“I’m just really proud of all the guys. Cameron and James really pushed today to keep the car out front. James saved it from overheating during the long caution there at the end. Blake and Max made up over 10 positions which really was impressive. We can all be proud of this weekend.”
Round 5 of the IMSA Prototype Challenge series broadcast airs on NBCSN Monday, Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. ET. Performance Tech Motorsports final IMSA Prototype Challenge takes place Oct. 9-12 at the newly renamed Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The final round is part of the larger Petit Le Mans weekend alongside the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in which the team will run Cassels and Masson in the No. 38 Centinel Spine LMP2 prototype.
Dean Baker, No. 19 Kerr Industries LMP3
“This is great,” Baker said. “We’ve been working hard all year to learn the car and this weekend finally shows it. Having a great team like Performance Tech has been key and played such a huge role in our success. Kyle did a really great job this weekend. The Norma’s were just that much faster in a straight line, which at a high-speed track like this makes all the difference. We had great practices, a great race and a lot of fun, which is what really matters.”
Kyle Masson, No. 19 Kerr Industries LMP3
“All in all that was a really awesome race,” Masson said. “It was going excellent and as good as possible when I made a tiny error because I was pushing too hard. The Norma’s were able to pull away on the straights and unfortunately it was too wet for me to make up time in the tighter sections. It ultimately ended up costing us second and had us finish third instead, which is still good. We were strong all weekend, and it was a ton of fun. We lead some of the race, and Dean did a really amazing job. I cannot say enough how much he’s improved. I want to thank the team and Dean for having me here and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Cameron Cassels, No. 75 NorCan Electric LMP3
“Performance Tech was fantastic as per usual and did a great job,” Cassels said. “I thought at the start we could win the race just based on how many guys went off before it even went green. My stint was interesting, but towards the last few laps, I couldn’t see anything because my windshield was covered in oil. I had some really great battles with my sister No. 7 car out there. I wish I could have stayed out a bit longer to fight. Once James hopped on board, he was able to make up a few positions, but the conditions and yellows wouldn’t let him go much further. Overall it was a good weekend, and I’m hoping Road Atlanta can be better.”
James French, No. 75 NorCan Electric LMP3
“There were really mixed conditions out there,” French said. “It went from misting, to dry, to rain. We qualified tenth with Cameron because of a rainy qualifying but knew there were a few competitors he could get on the start. Once I got in, there was more room to make up, but then Mother Nature decided she wanted it to only rain in Turn 10. This sent a lot of people off, including me, which sent me on a wild ride through the grass. When it went yellow, this had me watching my engine temps, but thankfully, I was able to bring it back as a functioning motor in one piece. It was frustrating having long yellows and not being able to make up the spots we could, but that’s racing. On to Road Atlanta.”
Blake Mount, No. 7 Sobel Westex/ Hotels.com
“The beginning of the race was pretty hectic, to say the least,” Mount said. “I just focused on keeping myself and the car on the island and playing safe. Once I got in my groove, I just started chipping away at the guys in front of me and kept moving forward. I had a lot of fun battling out there, and I think it really showed our pace. There were a few things that didn’t go our way, but if they had, we potentially would have been up in the front battle at the end. We’ll take what we learned here and come back stronger at Road Atlanta.”
Max Hanratty, No. 7 Sobel Westex/ Hotels.com
“The car was really good this weekend,” Hanratty said. "We took the proper approach to develop it and made a lot of progress. Out on the track, the conditions were constantly changing, but the car stayed steady through it all. I’m extremely happy with the direction we’re taking the car, and I can’t wait to move forward to Road Atlanta to see what else we can do.”