Photo: Performance Tech Motorsports

IMSA PC champs Performance Tech step-up to P with ORECA

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The Performance Tech Motorsports team will move into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class with an Oreca 07 Gibson next year, following its dominant season in the last year of Prototype Challenge en route to the title with James French and Pato O’Ward (with Kyle Masson for the long races).

Team principal Brent O’Neill courted Oreca from the summer and worked towards putting together a deal, and now will add another of the capable LMP2 chassis to the Prototype class grid.

“We know everybody going into this. Everyone is expecting to see Dallara or Ligier but we look forward to continuing the relationship we’ve built over the years it was the right choice for us,” O’Neill said. “It’s a big step for everybody but it’s a less steep curve to continue with ORECA because we’ve been working with them all along. ORECA was a part of our success this year.

“They did great through this process. We’ve had fun getting people excited about the new car. This, the car announcement, played out well for both of us. Everyone was asking ORECA who the car was for and our team was excited. But we’re happy to announce with them and excited to get to work.”

Oreca’s David Floury, its technical director, added: “We are really glad to partner Performance Tech in moving up to LMP2. The team is strong and has shown it in LMPC and we have developed a very good relationship through the year. ORECA will for sure support as much as possible to help Performance Tech continue to achieve success.

“I think they chose the right car for two main reasons. Firstly, the ORECA 07 is known for quality and has proven its speed and reliability. But besides this, it is a good base for teams that are entering the category for the first year to achieve great results. JDC in the USA or Graff in Europe has really demonstrated this in 2017. The second point is that Performance Tech and ORECA have developed a strong and successful relationship through years. This will enable to gain valuable time and speed up the process.”

Drivers weren’t named but with O’Ward keen on an open-wheel return full-time after doing two Indy Lights weekends last year, then testing in October, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see French and Masson in this car full-time.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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