One of the top independent teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Performance Tech Motorsports, is rebuilding its efforts in Prototype Challenge ahead of 2016 following an accident in practice for this year’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
Conor Daly’s crash in the opening 20 minutes of first practice wrote off the team’s No. 38 Oreca FLM09 and took Daly, James French and Jerome Mee out of the weekend.
It’s left Performance Tech team principal Brent O’Neill needing to acquire a new tub to replace the damaged one, as the team prepares for offseason testing.
“It’ll be about a couple months, but we’ll get it back together with a new tub,” O’Neill told Sportscar365.
O’Neill said he and the rest of the PC owners are still awaiting formal paperwork regarding upgrades to the PC cars, which has been floated in the last month.
“We’re still awaiting a concrete plan from IMSA,” O’Neill said. “To be honest, we haven’t seen anything in writing yet of what would be the proposed upgrades for the PC car.
“They have the test in November so it would make sense to know before spending all that money to commit to a three-day test. I’m not sure how they’ll be able to pull it off with Motec, traction control and body kits.”
While O’Neill has interest in the P2 platform, he said trying to find enough of a budget for a proper P2 program would be a challenge even for 2017.
“We’re certainly looking at P2. But the problem you’re faced with, is there’s not a lot of John Pews in the paddock,” O’Neill said.
“It’s easier for us to put a couple drivers together and find $1.2, $1.3 (million) as opposed to $3.8 or $4.
“We’d look at it, but where do you go for that? It’ll be difficult to raise to $4 million to run a P2 effort.”
While Performance Tech did enjoy a balance of stability in the driver lineup with Daly and French driving together from Watkins Glen through Petit Le Mans, O’Neill expressed some frustrations over missed opportunities.
Daly had some highlights in his first season in sports car racing but as O’Neill explained, there were moments he felt the team lost out on better results due to mistakes.
“To be honest, it wasn’t until the last minute that Conor was in our car for Petit,” O’Neill said. “Sean Johnston was going to be in the car, but Jerry (Mee) decided he wanted Conor in the car, which I understood since they’d driven together before.
“Conor made a couple big mistakes this year. Lime Rock, big mistake. Then leading race, he looked in mirrors, spun and finished P2 at Road America.
“He was P2 at COTA… he was on the radio about Mikhail Goikhberg and while he’s on the radio, I was like, ‘You’ll leave the door open and the RSR car will go by you,’ and it did.
“Conor did a great job, he’s a good kid, but I think he wants to be an IndyCar guy. I don’t believe his heart is in, or was in, coming to Petit. He’d come because he hadn’t run there before and it would be good for his resume.”
Daly, for his part, made strides this year but expressed remorse over any mistakes.
“For me it was going through the Turn 1 exit curb; it was wet and it sucked me onto the grass. It was a mistake, absolutely,” Daly told Sportscar365.
“But we did achieve Sebring, Road America, and Austin podiums this year, along with leading almost every race this season at some point.
“I’m thankful to Brent for the chance and opportunity this year.”
O’Neill is working on returning with French, who he said grew by leaps and bounds throughout the season.
“I was more impressed with James this year as he developed into a driver than I have been with anybody,” O’Neill said. “The kid really did an awesome job. He’s one of those kids, where he builds up to it right. He knew how much he needed and he pulled it out.
“COTA we thought we had a car for the pole. He wasn’t having a good weekend at COTA. He wasn’t driving good. But in the race, jumped in and off he went. Did a great job in the race.
“The kid as far as a Silver driver goes, between him and Chris Cumming, it’s flip a coin and that’s the one you’d like to have.”
Besides the PC program, O’Neill is planning on having at least three or four cars back in the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites category once again, albeit with the potential for new drivers. That team is testing this weekend.