LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 23, 2016) – Performance Tech Motorsports battled high temperatures and traffic at Lime Rock Park for a third place finish in the Northeast Grand Prix and the team’s third podium of the 2016 season.
James French began the Northeast Grand Prix in second after qualifying third. A driver change in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Prototype Challenge giving him a boost before the green flag.
The green flag was a point of grief for French. After the first drop of the green flag the No. 8 was hit almost immediately. The incident caused the green to be waved off twice while the debris was removed from the track.
Once the PC field was given the green flag French was pushed off course in the No. 38 NeuroSpine Institute PC. French sustained right front and rear damage from the impacts and fell back to seventh but continued on.
Back in seventh French was surrounded by the GT Daytona class. The Sheboygan, Wisconsin native kept a level head and bided his time safely passing car after car, eventually rejoining the PC field. French gained multiple positions on restarts due to the many yellow flags that came out during the first hour of the race.
French was in third when the tight turns of Lime Rock collected yet another victim. This time the No. 85 of JDC Motorsports was claimed, a crucial point in the race as French took over second place 20-minutes before entering pit lane to turn it over to teammate Kyle Marcelli.
“Based on everything that happened early on in the race we finished with the best case scenario,” French said. “I feel ok with my own performance; Kyle did a great job. It was the circumstances I was disappointed in, I felt like we had a car that could win. To have that taken away on the very first lap was disappointing. But we had a good result considering we drove the race with damage to the back right of the car. It really effected the grip and made going through traffic difficult.
“I think this weekend the team did a great job configuring the car prior to qualifying. In the past we’ve struggled trying to get the set up right before we go into qualifying. But this weekend I felt like the guys really nailed it, we had a good balance. I think that was the closest qualifying I’ve been a part of, everyone had really close times. I was on a flyer lap before a car went off in front of me, so I didn’t make pole but we did have a strong car. I want to thank the guys for working hard and giving us a great car for the weekend.”
Marcelli took over the No. 38 in fourth place. Marcelli showed skill as he made his way through GT traffic, the 7-turn 1.50-mile course allowed for very little passing to be made. Marcelli laid down lap times as quick as 49.823 seconds as he made his way to the front of the PC class.
With 40-minutes left in the race Marcelli was running steady in fourth but began closing the gap on third place. Marcelli continued to fight off GT Le Mans and GTD cars as he turned laps. Marcelli also steered clear of on-track incidences as hot tempers seemed to best drivers in the No. 912 and No. 25.
In the final minutes of the race Marcelli reeled in third place and made the pass for the podium. Marcelli had the pace to hold on to the podium spot, the third place finish marks Performance Tech’s third podium finish of the season. Previously the team found the podium at Long Beach and Watkins Glen.
“It was a challenging race at Lime Rock as expected,” Marcelli said. “James and I both had exciting stints with some of the incidences on track. Luckily, we stayed clear of them. With the traffic at Lime Rock going into it we knew it was going to be a difficult race. At the start we were hit in Turn 1 so we had a wounded car after that but we continued to push. My goal was to do the best job on my out lap. I wanted to get out of pit lane as quickly as possible.
“Once I was out I radioed in to see where we were at and I was surprised when they told me I was fourth, I really thought we were still in first or second, and they told me P3 was 9 seconds ahead. So I had to really work hard to get up to third. I held on to the position for a third place finish. I think we had a great car, it was a hard earned position. Just continued thanks to the team for all they do for us each weekend.”
Team Principal Brent O’Neill was thrilled with the continued success of his No. 38 PC.
“We really had a great race yesterday,” O’Neill said. “We were wounded on lap one when James was pushed off at the start. But the car was good, our pit strategy worked out. James and Kyle both did a great job. It would have been nice to have taken pole there. James was on a pole lap when Robert Alon went off track and came back on in front of him. But we’ll take a podium. It was hot as hades out there yesterday, the guys all did a great job pushing through the heat.”
Performance Tech sat fifth in the points championship prior to the Lime Rock finish but with only five points separating the team from fourth and seven points from third, they’ll see a jump in the standings. The team faces four more rounds in the 2016 Weather Tech SportsCar Championship.
The PC class and the rest of the Weather Tech SportsCar Championship next heads to James French’s home track, Road America. James French took home his third pole at Road America last year and Performance Tech saw its best finish of the 2015 season, second place. This year the team will look to earn its first TOTAL Pole Award as well as its first win. The Continental Tire Road Race Showcase takes place August 7 and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.
For updates from the team follow Performance Tech on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. For more information visit performancetechmotorsports.com.
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