DETROIT (June 4, 2016) – Performance Tech Motorsports took home a fourth place finish after qualifying second for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic Presented by the Metro Detroit Dealers on Belle Isle’s street course.
It was a job well done by both drivers and team but multiple cautions restrained Kyle Marcelli and the No. 38 FerPal Infrastructure from progressing to a podium finish.
James French qualified and started the race in the No. 38. A strong start from the green flag allowed French to stay close to class leader Robert Alon in the No. 52 PC. Turning laps around the 1:27 mark French was closing in on Alon when the track went yellow for the first time.
The No. 90 Visit Florida Prototype hit the wall in Turn 7 leaving Debris behind after the hit. As French entered the turn a late debris warning came across his radio, it was too late to adjust, French spun in Turn 7 but missed all debris on track. No contact was made by the No. 38 and he continued through his stint.
French re-entered the race sixth and within five-minutes had fought his way to third place. French continued his attack to the front, eventually earning second due to an off kilter pit strategy. French brought the car in for Marcelli to take over in second place.
“I think we definitely started from a good spot this morning,” French said. “We made some changes in the warm up that I think helped in some areas with the handling but hurt in some others. In the end it seemed like we had pretty much identical pace to the PR1 car (No. 52 PC). I was pushing as hard as I could to catch Robert (Alon). He was pushing as hard as he could. It was a nice battle to start the race off.
“But with my spin and all the cautions it was truly chaos to get through it all. I think everybody was confused, there was a lot going on. To get through it without any penalties and to drive it back to third after the little bobble, I was happy with that.”
Marcelli entered the race fourth in the PC class. His stint would also be plagued with yellows. A caution came out only four-minutes in to his stint. Marcelli felt he had the pace to chase down third. His lap pace was consistently higher than the No. 52 of Kimber-Smith.
However, the multiple yellows slowed Marcelli and as time wound down the front of the PC field began to catch traffic from the GT Daytona field. The traffic and lack of green flag racing resulted in Marcelli crossing the finish line in fourth place. Overall, a successful weekend finishing first in the TransAm race and helping earn Performance Tech points for the fifth consecutive race.
“It was a difficult and busy weekend for me all together doing double duty, jumping between the TransAm and PC car because they’re apples and oranges in terms of equipment,” Marcelli said. “It’s a competitive grid. This spec prototype challenge class is now very strong. The teams have had these cars for a while and have learned what it takes to make this car go fast. Driver lineups and pairings are very strong, both starting and finishing drivers.
“James did a great job in both qualifying and the race today. I think someone else’s accident caught us out early on. So when I jumped in the car in fourth I thought we were going to be able to move forward. I thought we had a better pace, especially on cold tires, than some of the others. When the tires came up to temperature and I found some confidence in the car we just weren’t able to overtake.
“I found myself stuck behind Kimber-Smith for half-an-hour. The cautions didn’t help, but I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I felt we had a third place car. Although we finished with a fourth I think it was partially due to track position luck. We caught some GTD traffic the last lap that benefited Kimber-Smith and hurt us so it is what it is. We finished the race and will go home with good points.”
Team Principal Brent O’Neill wished they had a podium finish to celebrate how well the team worked together and performed this weekend.
“We had the pace it was just tough to run anybody down with as many yellows as there were,” O’Neill said. “James had a little mishap in the beginning of his stint but other than that everyone did great. The guys did a good pit stop and Kyle and James did a good job driving. On to Watkins Glen.”
Performance Tech Motorsports next heads to Watkins Glen, New York, for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International. This will be the penultimate event in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship. The race takes place Sunday, July 3, check your local listings for viewing details.
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