THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2015 – FRESNO, CA—There was a lot to celebrate over the weekend as the PR1/ Mathiasen Motorsports team and crew gathered for their year-end celebration in California. For a program that came together only days before the infamous 24 Hours of Daytona, this team proved to be a dominant force to be reckoned with in the PC Class of the 2015 Tudor United Sportscar Championship season.
“The season as a whole was just epic. The highs andthe lows were on equal sides of the spectrum,” stated PR1 team owner Bobby Oergel.
“To be able to win all of the endurance races, and really the low part of it being second place at The Glen (Watkins Glen International Raceway) was amazing. Having four wins in the year and winning the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship (TPNAEC) was pretty spectacular. The lows that we had were not due to any human error, but more to just freak incidents that were out of our control, so to come away with a championship and three of the biggest wins in the series is a pretty amazing year,” continued Oergel.
The TPNAEC winning team was comprised of three drivers who before this season, had never driven with each other before. Michael Guasch, the California based, entrepreneur who has been a part of the PR1 team for three years was part of the roster, as well as California college student Andrew Palmer and sports car racing veteran Tom Kimber-Smith. Guasch, Palmer and Kimber-Smith only met days before their first event in Daytona, but after seeing their success the 24 Hours of Daytona and then again at the 12 Hours of Sebring, it appeared as though the trio had been driving together for years.
“I hadn’t met anyone prior to Daytona, because the deal to drive for the team came together just days before the ROAR,” explained Tom Kimber-Smith.
“To gel with a team, doesn’t really happen overnight, but immediately I felt at ease with everyone. I instantly felt comfortable with Bobby, with John (Hayes) our engineer, and with Mike and Andrew. Mike is a really big guy. He looks like a fighter and if you don’t know him, you might be a little intimidated by him, but then when you get to know him, he’s like a big teddy bear. Then when he gets behind the wheel of the racecar, he’s unstoppable, which is a direct result of how hard he works and how hard he pushes himself to be the very best.
“Andrew Palmer, who doesn’t have quite as much experience as Mike and myself, fit straight into the team and was super fast from day one. He has so much natural, raw talent. It’s really scary where he’s going to go. You just don’t know how fast he’s going to go, and he’s great. As a group of drivers, we all played to our own strengths and those strengths made us a winning group.”
They were certainly a winning group coming away with four wins from the season with The 24 Hours of Daytona, The 12 Hours of Sebring, Lime Rock Park and the final race of the season, Petit Le Mans, which was filled with drama after heavy downpours throughout the weekend, which caused the race to be called three hours early.
“It was nice to win Petit. I hadn’t won that one yet,” explained Mike Gausch. “And the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup is such a treat. It’s tough to be five points shy of the overall driver’s championship, especially after winning three of the biggest races of the year, but I’m still pleased to win the North American Endurance Cup. Now we set our sights on the next season. Our plan is to regroup, work hard in the off season and push even harder in 2016.”
“To come away with a championship and the three biggest wins you can have in American sports car racing, it’s pretty unreal,” said Andrew Palmer.
“It puts me in a really tough spot because I don’t know how to live up to this season other than winning all of the same ones again next year, and then adding Watkins Glen. It’s going to be a difficult season to follow up, but I’m up for the challenge.”
“It was really special working with the PR1 boys and with the Cuttwood guys. It was a group of guys that I feel like I’ve become family with. Sometimes that’s tough to do in motorsports, but this is a family team. Bobby and John and all of the crew are probably the best people in the business, and I’m just really glad to have been a part of the family this season, and I’m looking forward to working with them and Tom and Mike in the future.”
The PR1 crew is working hard to prepare for the 2016 season. Stay tuned to pr1motorsports.com in the upcoming weeks for all of the latest news and updates for the team and drivers’ 2016 plans!