Performance Tech Doubles Down on Podiums in IMSA’s Prototype Challenge

Friday, March 17, 2017

Performance Tech Motorsports walked away with two podium finishes in Race One of the opening weekend for IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda at Sebring International Raceway.

Veteran Kyle Masson of Windermere, Florida took full advantage of being on his home turf and walked away with his first win in the MPC class after starting from the pole position. Team newcomer and series rookie Andres Gutierrez closed Race One with a second-place finish in the LMP3 class with his No. 12 Ligier JS P3.

Race One featured 45-minutes of clean and green racing. There were, of course, a few spins and near misses but the Performance Tech team brought home all six cars without a bump or bruise.

Dr. Robert Masson in the No. 11 MPC showed steady concentration overtaking Dave House in the No. 86 after a long-fought battle. He finished seventh overall in the MPC class. Teammate Stephen Dawes in Performance Tech’s namesake No. 38 MPC had a quick spin in Turn 10 but continued on to finish ninth. Howard Jacobs was showing some speed near the end of the sprint race in his No. 77 MPC. He followed Dawes across the finish line in tenth.

While Gutierrez was fighting for top honors against LMP3 class winner Nico Jamin of ANSA Motorsports teammate Alan Wilzig was getting acquainted with his No. 23 LMP3. Wilzig took a couple of spins in his Ginetta LMP3 as he learned its nuances during race action. He kept his race clean and held on for a tenth-place finish in the LMP3 class.

Team Principal Brent O’Neill was twisting and turning as he watched the battles his six cars undertook. Each driver walking away with more experience for tomorrow’s Race Two. O’Neill walked away with a smile as his team secured seven straight years of opening the Prototype Challenge season on the podium.

“I think it was a good day and everybody did a good job,” O’Neill said. “Andres, to be as young as he is, was out there in the battle. He got caught in traffic a little bit, but he handled it and did an awesome job. Kyle, he struggled there in the beginning. When the JDC car got up to him he was finally able to put some laps together and win his race.

"All the guys, Dr. Masson, Howard and Steve, they did a great job. They kept their cars clean, that’s important the first race. Alan did a great job, had a couple of spins, but again kept his car clean. Everything came home and that’s what counts.”

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Andres Gutierrez

No. 12 Ligier JS P3

Second Place LMP3 Class

“I’m feeling really good about this race. I think there are a lot of positives we can take away,” Gutierrez said. “It’s my first race and I’m racing against people at a higher age than me with more experience. I must be happy. I learned a lot of things about the Continental Tires and the car. We should be better tomorrow; we’re going to make some changes to see if we can improve and hopefully get first place.”

Alan Wilzig

No. 23 Ginetta LMP3

10th Place LMP3 Class

“I think everyone did a really good job of following Elliott Forbes Robinson’s direction at the meeting which was to stay similar to WeatherTech,” Wilzig said. “Without saying it explicitly there are certain forms of racing like Lotus Cup and HSR that are no contact. With this, it’s about avoidable contact and sharing responsibility. It’s not 100 percent the responsibility of the overtaking car to make it a clean pass. You’ve got to share, as he said. You have to give each other racing room, as Terry Dale used to say, just give each other an inch.

“I was a pretty much a back marker through the race. So naturally, it’s only right for me to breath the car and let the guys by competing at the head of either class. For me, it was almost a scrimmage because I have so little time in this car and it’s so different from the Lotus I’ve been racing for the last two years. It’s a completely different animal. In some ways, this almost feels like the bad old days of 2011 before things started to smooth out in 2012. So, I think we’re going to expedite the process and I hope to be, by the second or third race, I hope to be competitive and at least be mid-pack.”

Kyle Masson

No. 18 Élan DP02

First Place MPC Class

“The start of the race was very interesting with the LMP3’s mixed in with the MPC’s," Masson said. "Obviously, all the P3 cars passed us at the start and it was frustrating because some of them had slower lap times than us (MPC). I spent the first five or six laps stuck behind the LMP3s and pitted against a JDC car. I had to do my best to get around the LMP3 cars so I could pull away from my competition. Once I made the pass I was able to pull away because he was stuck behind the LMP3 car.

“I would say the most difficult part of the race was coming out of the PC car in WeatherTech practice and going into my No. 18 MPC. I went from trying to figure things out in the PC practice session and then hopping back in the MPC car and trying to remember the momentum and the limit. Everything was just really off for a while, I was running 2:01 lap times. Once I figured it out I was running around lap times around two-minutes flat. I also want to say thanks to Piloti, they’re great driving shoes and I’m honored to be a spokesperson for them this year. I put them to good use this weekend being in both series.”

Dr. Robert Masson

No. 11 Èlan DP02

Seventh Place MPC Class

“Race One I was completely in the moment I just didn’t want to extend myself,” Dr. Masson said.  “I know what I’m capable of I just didn’t want anyone else to ruin it for me. “I just really tried to stay within what I knew I could do and take advantage of opportunities. I had a pretty strong feeling opportunities were going to come and I was patient. It probably bogged me down a little bit but in the first race of the series, I wasn’t going to force the issue and ruin the race. I was just hyper focused on the pretty strong task that was Dave House. He did a good job keeping me at bay for a long time.”

Stephen Dawes

No. 38 Élan DP02

Ninth Place MPC Class

“At the beginning, the people around me matched my pace,” Dawes said. “Then I got kind of out of control by myself in Turn 10 and suddenly the race turns into something different because you’re all by yourself. That was probably the only downside. It was good for the first seven laps but when I got out of the group I was in from qualifying then all the sudden it was like practice. It’s harder to get up to speed when you’re not competing against someone or chasing someone down. It was a hard race but beyond that it was fun and I’m looking forward to Race Two.”

Howard Jacobs

No. 77 Élan DP02

10th Place MPC Class

“We made some changes right before the race that I think really helped out,” Jacobs said. “As the race went on I got more comfortable with those changes, the last five or six laps were the fastest laps that we had. I think the mixture of the two cars worked out really well. The rookies were aware of the other drivers and the leads and battles they had on the track. I don’t think there were any major incidences on track the entire race. So, it was all good.”