A jubilant Pato O’Ward says Performance Tech Motorsports has announced its arrival in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class with a fourth-place effort in qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona .
The reigning Prototype Challenge class co-champion turned in the fastest lap for non-DPi machinery, a 1:36.318, ensuring the team will start behind only the likes of Wayne Taylor Racing, Team Penske, and Action Express Racing in its debut in the top class.
The 18-year-old Mexican, who is set for a full-season of Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this year, couldn’t hide his pleasure at mixing it up with some of the legendary names of the sport.
“This honestly means a lot to my career,” he told Sportscar365. “It helps me, it helps the team, but I’m really, really proud of myself.
“I put a goal of a 1:36.6. I said that would be a monster lap. I don’t really get times on my dash so I didn’t see what I was doing and I was just pushing, pushing, pushing and trying to go as fast as I could.
“I just want to show people what I can do. I think they got a little glimpse of it this qualifying session.
“There’s so many big names: Helio [Castroneves], [Filipe] Albuquerque, [Jordan and Ricky] Taylor, [Fernando] Alonso. I was saying to myself: you wanna be the best, you’ve gotta beat the best.
“And I want to be the best.”
O’Ward and co-drivers Kyle Masson, James French, and Nick Boulle all took home Rolex watches with a dominant run to the PC class win last year at Daytona.
He said the pace of the car in qualifying left him feeling confident that he, Masson, French, and newcomer Joel Miller can compete for victory once again, this time overall.
“I can’t win this race by myself so we’ve got to all work together and try to get the most out of the car that we can throughout the 24 hours,” O’Ward said.
“If we are running a really strong pace and have a perfect pace, I wouldn’t doubt that we can wind up on the podium or actually have a chance to win. I think I showed everybody that we have a car.
“It’s the first time I qualified in this car, basically the second time I’ve been in this car, and I’m just really, really excited to get going. I can’t be any happier.”