O’Ward Completing Second Leg Of Unique Florida Tripleheader This Weekend At Sebring
Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pato O’Ward may reside in Monterrey, Mexico, but he has made Florida his home for the last two weeks. The versatile young racer is completing the second leg of a unique tripleheader this weekend at Sebring International Raceway, one that started a week ago during IndyCar’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend.

Just a few days after scoring his first career win in the 2018 Indy Lights championship on the streets of St. Pete, O’Ward embarks on the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, driving both the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA LM P2 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the No. 7 Charles Wicht Racing Ligier JS P3 alongside Leo Lamelas in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.

It’s a unique challenge for O’Ward, who turned heads at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona by qualifying fourth in Performance Tech’s debut in the Prototype class. This week he’ll look to do the same, juggling sessions in the WeatherTech Championship and making his series debut in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.

“It’s definitely been a busy week, I haven’t been home in two or three weeks,” said O’Ward. “We did awesome at St. Petersburg. We were really, really, fast. I got my first win in Lights on Saturday…this week I’m back at Sebring. We seem to be doing pretty well [in the LM P3]. We haven’t put new tires on yet, but the car feels good and balanced.”

O’Ward noted following his first practice session in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda the similarities in driving the LM P3 compared to the LM P2, something that has attracted drivers to the series aspiring to one day compete in the WeatherTech Championship.

“It’s a pretty quick car honestly, I’m surprised at how quick it is,” he said. “The power is different, but drivers can get an idea about what the vision is like. Whenever someone gets into a closed-cockpit car it’s super different than an open-wheel or IMSA Lites car because you have a blindspot right at the apex of the corner, so you have to guess where you’re going.

“The more laps you do the more comfortable you start getting. It definitely gives you an idea of what a closed-cockpit prototype feels like, and you just have to add a little downforce and more power to that and you’ll get to a P2.”

As for the WeatherTech Championship, O’Ward will again team up with co-drivers James French and Kyle Masson for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, which can be seen live beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, with complete live streaming available in the U.S. on FOX Sports Go. IMSA Radio also will have live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.

They’ll look to improve on their performance at Daytona, after having nearly two months since the Rolex 24 to get more acclimated to the new car.

“In Daytona, I honestly think everyone is still in shock,” said O’Ward. “I don’t know where we pulled that lap out…we were definitely quick, but we weren’t expecting to be fourth at Daytona. It’s a new car for everybody. All the mechanics are new to it, all the drivers are new to it, the team owner is new to it.

“There was a lot to be learned before Daytona, but I think we’re sitting in a more comfortable place right now. They know more about the car, the balance, and ORECA is giving us a lot of support. I’m sure we’re going to be up there and I’m hoping we can make it even better than Daytona.”