Performance Tech Motorsports warmly welcomed the return to racing with a second-place finish at the Cadillac Grand Prix at Sebring International Raceway after a rough and rowdy IMSA Prototype Challenge race.
The team’s first event back to racing in over six-months came in the form of an all-out sprint weekend with four practices, two qualifying sessions and two races for both IMSA Prototype Challenge and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship packed into 48-hours. The team unloaded at Sebring International Raceway without a blip, falling back into its race weekend routine with ease.
Team Principal Brent O’Neill was impressed by his team’s stamina and perseverance as they took on back-to-back races in the sweltering Florida heat.
"It was great to be back with everyone at the track," O’Neill said. "We started the weekend off with a disinfection treatment from VB Enviro Care so we all felt safe and could focus on racing. Our LMP3 guys did a great job, they were all really fast out there. In the end we just didn’t have anything for the Norma’s. Cameron and Kyle were both quick in the LMP2, it was awesome to see Kyle grab a podium spot on the last lap. The drama and excitement is just what we needed to get us excited again. It was a long day for everyone having back-to-back races but I’m proud of the team and ready to keep the season going at Road America."
The pent-up adrenaline of both the crew and driver was released as soon as the green flag waved for the Prototype Challenge race. Cameron Cassels, British Columbia, put his head down and meticulously avoided carnage while picking off the competition, working his way up the leader board. He handed the No. 75 VB Enviro Care LMP3 over to Max Hanratty, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in second place overall.
Hanratty buckled into the No. 75 and head back on track ready to build on Cassels momentum. As he settled into his rhythm on the first lap the No. 40 LMP3 attempted an aggressive pass and made contact with the rear of the No. 75. The contact pushed Hanratty sideways and into the outside wall at the entrance to the hairpin turn with exuberant force giving the team no choice but to retire the prototype.
IMSA Prototype Challenge qualifying was canceled due to lightning causing the No. Motel 6 Ligier LMP3 to face a plethora of battles including a ninth place start. Dan Goldburg, Delray Beach, took the green flag confident that he and his machine could outrace his competitors. His race pace under green flag conditions paired with two stellar restarts moved him up the field to fourth before contact with the No. 47 caused significant damage to the front end. Goldberg steadily continued his push to the front while dealing with heavy vibrations from the damage.
The Performance Tech Motorsports crew showcased their skills during the race as the No. 6 entered pitlane in need of new nose bodywork and a full service stop during the mandatory 105-second pitstop. Rasmus Lindh, Gothenburg, Sweden, took the reins of the No. 6 as the crew worked to optimize their time in pitlane and get Lindh out on the lead lap.
Lindh rejoined the race fighting his way from the back up to seventh position. In a last-lap charge, Lindh pushed his way into sixth place where he would take the checkered flag on his first IMSA Prototype Challenge event.
With the sun setting the team switched gears to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Cadillac Grand Prix with the No. 38 Centinel Spine ORECA LMP2. Cassels climbed behind the wheel to take his second green flag of the day, this time starting from the second row. As though it was expected of him, he quickly advanced reaching first place before handing the LMP2 over to Kyle Masson.
Masson, Windemere, took control of the No. 38 as track temperatures dropped and full course cautions became few and far between. He knew strategy and patience would be key if he wanted to finish on podium. With one lap remaining Masson was rewarded as a mistake made by the competitor ahead allowed him to overtake for a third-place finish.
Post-race it was announced the winning LMP2 was disqualified for a driver not reaching minimum drive time. This penalty advanced Performance Tech Motorsports into second place giving the team a solid points grab in its first weekend back to work.
With the race season back in full swing the team heads to Road America. The event weekend features both the IMSA Prototype Challenge and WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This will be the Prototype Challenge series first time back to Road America since the American Le Mans Series and Grand Am’s merger in 2014. For event details and limited ticket sales visit https://www.imsa.com/events/road-america/.
Cameron Cassels, About the No. 75 VB Enviro Care LMP3
"This weekend I learned how hot Florida is in the summer," Cassels said. "It was great being back with everyone at the track though. Even with the limited practice time, it was apparent early on in the race that we had a good race car. With that being said it was likely very obvious on TV the advantage the Norma’s have on tracks with longer straights.
"We are hopeful that IMSA takes notice and can balance the cars as we head into Road America. The unfortunate incident between Max and the Norma put us in a bit of a tough spot but it will not stop us from pushing harder than ever at Road America."
Cameron Cassels, About the No. 38 Centinel Spine ORECA LMP2
"It was great to be back, albeit an odd new format," Cassels said. "Who knew leaving Daytona back in January would be the last time we would be racing until July! Seeing the Performance Tech crew getting back to what they do best is a step closer to seeing things getting back to normal. Everyone needs that. Both qualifying and the race went relatively well. That has to be the hardest I’ve pushed that car. I’m super proud of Kyle never giving up during his stints and digging so deep to make an amazing move for a podium finish. It was great to be driving with him again. Although I was fairly happy with my pace in qualifying and the race, there’s definitely some work to do to close up on PR1 right now heading into Road America."
Max Hanratty Driver of the No. 75 VB Enviro Care LMP3
"It’s hard to say how the car was during the race due to the first lap incident of my stint, but the initial feeling was great," Hanratty said. "I believe if we had run until the end, we would have had a very competitive race car. Something that really stuck out to me this weekend is just how valuable track time is and getting the most out of every turn and every lap, especially after such a long hiatus. I found it challenging to knock off some of the rust while trying to develop the car simultaneously. There’s just not a lot of track time, it’s the nature of the situation, but it’s that way for everyone."
"I’m extremely excited to be returning to Road America after a few years off from the track. It’s my home race and it’s always good to see some family and friends in attendance. Cameron did a fantastic job in the race today and we’re both very hungry for the next one. I am definitely looking forward to a strong result and getting some momentum as we approach the halfway mark of the season."
"Lastly, I wanted to give a shoutout to the team. They did an amazing job all weekend. The cars rolled off the trailer strong and the changes we made were all positive. The pit stops were flawless and race strategy was on point. Really wish we could have brought home the finish they deserve."
Dan Goldburg, Driver of the No. 6 Motel 6 LMP3
"We had great pace for a Ligier," Goldburg said. "It was disappointing that when Rasmus wrung everything out of the car and was the fastest Ligier it was still 1.6 seconds slower than the fastest Norma. I’m hopeful the series will do something to correct this issue. That being said I was really excited for qualifying because based on my pace in practice we had a good shot at being near the top. Unfortunately, qualifying got rained out so I started the race based on points which put me in tenth.
"I made my way up to fourth, but in my pass for the position, I misjudged my speed advantage coming into Turn One and bumped the car ahead of me turning him around and breaking a part of my car’s nose. After that, once I got over 100mph the whole front end started bouncing side to side.
"On the broadcast, they said my car was ‘doing the shimmy.’ I managed to stay in position even with the damaged car, but I got a drive-through penalty for the incident, and after serving that and the team changing the nose, which they did in record time, unfortunately, Rasmus went out a lap down. Rasmus was fast though! He passed some of the fastest drivers in the series and this was his first event in the car with limited time due to the rain on Friday. All in all, I learned a lot driving alongside Rasmus, and he brought the car home in sixth place which was the best result possible after my incident."
Rasmus Lindh, Driver of the No. 6 Motel 6 LMP3
"I think our race pace was really good," Lindh said. "The car felt good even at the end of the race. We were the fastest Ligier by a second, we just didn’t have luck on our side today. I learned a lot this weekend. This was a brand new car for so I had a lot to do to get up to speed but we were fourth in both sessions so I’m happy."