Performance Tech Sees IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore As Opportunity To Build Team Chemistry
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

If you were to poll teams entered for November’s IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore about why they are attracted to the inaugural and highly-anticipated offseason event at Sebring International Raceway you would get a variety of answers.

Some teams are looking at the three-day event on Nov. 9-11 – which includes a four-hour race featuring LMP3, GT3, GT4 and TCR race cars – as an opportunity to get a leg up on the competition for next year and more track time on the new-for-2019 Michelin tire. Others are interested in it as an opportunity to host customers or partners at one of North America’s iconic road courses. Some just want to have fun.

For Performance Tech Motorsports, the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore is about one thing: team chemistry.

The team is already confident in its LMP3 program, with driver Cameron Cassels winning the IMSA Prototype Challenge LMP3 Masters championship two weeks ago in the No. 75 Ligier JS P3. Team principal Brent O’Neill also has had a longstanding relationship with Michelin dating back to his days in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class and has also used Michelin tires on some of the team’s other prototype race cars over the years.

What the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore does provide for O’Neill and the Performance Tech Motorsports team is a simulated race weekend with a potential new driver for the 2019 season.

The team has entered the No. 19 Ligier JS P3 that ran under the Baker Racing banner in 2018 for the event with Brad Baker, Jan Heylen and Bruno Junqueira expected to drive. Baker made three starts last season with Heylen with the duo scoring a season-best finish of 10th at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

“I'm big on having the whole team gel together and work together, and we thought it was a good opportunity for us to get with (Brad) and Bruno and Jan, so everybody's on the same page, and we're all working for the same goals,” said O’Neill. “For us with Brad, it's a great opportunity for us to go to a race and be around each other. We're going to go do a test on Monday, but it it's a whole different scenario, a test day compared to a race day. It gives us an opportunity to be with him under race conditions.”

The LMP3 class is the fastest of the four classes of cars at the IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore and carries with it significant momentum following record-high car counts in the IMSA Prototype Challenge in 2018.

Drivers and teams will be competing for a $10,000 winner’s prize and a $5,000 Michelin tire credit to apply for the 2019 season.

“It’s a good thing for us to go to the Encore,” added O’Neill. “There’s a lot of hype about it, and all the new cars that are going to be there.”

The IMSA Michelin SportsCar Encore will kick off with two days of practice and qualifying on the 3.74-mile circuit before Sunday’s race at 12 p.m. ET. Teams are allowed a minimum of two and a maximum of three drivers per car. Platinum-rated drivers are prohibited, and each car may have a maximum of one gold-rated driver, which cannot participate in qualifying.

Tickets will be sold at the gate of Sebring International Raceway each day, and military veterans will be admitted free on Sunday (Veteran’s Day) with proper ID. Following Saturday’s on-track action, there will be a concert at 7 p.m. featuring one of country music’s top artists, Love and Theft, along with the Dairy Daughters.