Performance Tech Retires Early at Petit Le Mans

Performance Tech Motorsport’s season ended early despite the team’s resilient efforts at Road Atlanta for the 17th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda.

The season ended when driver Jerome Mee was pushing hard to pass a GTLM car coming into Turn 12. The No. 38 Dash Neighborhood/ Phillips 66 Prototype Challenge car went wide and hit the wall. Mee was able to continue and brought the car into the pits.  

Once in the pits, Team Principal Brent O’Neill and his crew decided they would try to repair the car. This would be the third repair of the race. But once back at the paddock, it was determined that the damage was greater than expected, and the team was forced to retire shortly after the five-hour mark of the 10-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship endurance classic. 

“On the restart, Jerry just made a little mistake,” O’Neill said. “He got wide in 12 and got in the dirt, then bounced it off the wall to the inside. Atlanta hasn’t been kind to us the last two years. We’ll go home and lick our wounds and get ready for next year.”

Performance Tech put up quite the fight throughout the race. Driver David Ostella took the car from ninth to fifth at the start of the race. He climbed to fourth before the car’s wire to the compressor broke, making it impossible for Ostella to shift. The car slowed suddenly and was struck from behind by a passing car. The team brought the Prototype Challenge car to the paddock and found and repaired the problem in 15 minutes. The team re-entered the race 19 laps down from the PC field leader. 

“The team hustled all weekend,” Ostella said. “They got the car fixed quickly and back out there to give us a fighting chance. I have to thank them for that. It’s sad that it had to end this way, but things happen you can’t plan for, and we will all move on.” 

James French’s stint went on without drama as he made progress around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile course. The car’s mechanical woes were behind it, and French turned consistent laps. 

“It went excellent out there for me,” French said. “It went as good as it could. The guys had done a great job fixing the car right before my stint. They did a great job of fixing it quickly while we completed the driver change. The car ran well for the entire stint. I just tried to keep my nose clean and go as quickly as I could and stay out of harm’s way. Definitely thanks to everyone who made this happen, everyone on the team and my dad and mom.” 

Mee was behind the wheel of the PC for two stints, both of which featured many of the 11 yellow flags Performance Tech encountered before it retired. Mee showedconsistent speed and a talent for restarts. 

His second stint ended early due to the Turn 12 incident. 

“I felt comfortable in the car,” Mee said. “The race environment was chaotic, but once I got my pace going and got around a lot of GTD cars, I acclimated. JJ (driver coach Jonatan Jorge) did a great job letting me know where all the cars were coming from. I felt good. It’s just unfortunate on the second stint I passed a GTLM car coming over the bridge and went wide. That just killed me, a rough way to end.” 

Performance Tech Motorsports soon will focus on 2015. The team’s test schedule and driver development program begins in early November.

Adam Sinclair