Team Penske IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Race Report

October 7, 2017

Track:                    Road Atlanta
Race:                     Petit Le Mans
Race Length:        10 hrs
Date:                     October 7, 2017

No. 6 ORECA-07 LMP2 – Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Overall Start: 1st
Class Start:  1st
Overall Finish:  3rd
Class Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 402/402

Recap: Team Penske returned to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in a strong fashion this weekend, starting on the pole and finishing third at the 20th Anniversary Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta on Saturday.  The all-star driving lineup of Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud were fast in their ORECA-07/Gibson throughout the weekend and it showed on Friday evening, with Castroneves qualifying the car on the pole position for the event. Unfortunately, things got off to a rocky start when just 17 minutes into the 10-hour event, Castroneves was spun from behind while running second and lapping a GTD car. The contact put Castroneves in the sand trap and caused minor damage to the rear wing.  Eventually, the No. 6 ORECA was able to make it back to the pits and replace the rear wing, losing a lap in the process. Three hours into the event, with Montoya behind the wheel, the team was able to use a timely caution and take the wave around to get back on the lead lap. From there, a solid stint by Montoya and a strong and steady two-hour performance by Pagenaud allowed Castroneves to return to the car with just under four hours to go and drive the car all the way back up to third. Through hour eight, the team found themselves as high as second before a final driver change between Castroneves and Montoya. Unfortunately, during his final stint, Montoya made contact with another driver, which resulted in a cut left rear tire and an unscheduled pit stop, losing another lap in the process. However, Montoya put on a masterful drive to make the lap back up in the final hour and finish the race on the podium in the third position.  

Helio Castroneves Quote:  "What a great weekend. I think we had a car that could have finished better than it did, but we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, which was finish all 10 hours, do it without a penalty and just get the drivers and the crew some experience. The start of the race was pretty unfortunate. It was a little damp there and I was bring conservative and slipped back to second. I was just getting my footing when we got spun from behind. I was a little frustrated it took so long to get us out of the gravel, but thankfully we didn't have much damage. After that, it was just limit the mistakes and in my second stint, I went full out. That was a lot of fun and was a lot of work. I learned a lot and I know I have a lot more to learn. Overall, good weekend for this team."

Simon Pagenaud Quote:  "This was really cool. I had a blast out there today. I've been re-learning a lot of the traffic tricks and I don't think I was making the right decision every time. It was a lot of fun though. I just wanted to go out there, make solid laps, learn some things and knock the rust off. It's been a while since I drove one of these cars in race conditions. Yes, it's our first race. There is a lot to be learned and that’s exactly what this weekend is for. We had a lot of fun and it was good to be teamed up with Juan and Helio again."

JP Montoya Quote:  "It was a good day overall. I made some mistakes out there, but we knew going in that we were going to make some mistakes. That is what we ran this race for in the first place. We had the pace to finish second for sure. I made a mistake trying to pass a car and it put us a little behind. We fell behind, but we were able to come back. We just didn't have enough time at the end of the race. But it was a lot of fun out there.  These races are just crazy. I'm excited for next year. I wish we could start tomorrow."