BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 4, 2014) – David Ostella’s first Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda had its share of triumphs and challenges Oct. 4 at Road Atlanta, a mirror of Ostella’s solid first season in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Ostella’s team was forced to retire just past the halfway point of the 10-hour endurance event after co-driver Jerome Mee went wide in Turn 12 and hit the wall. That incident was the end of a tough day in which Performance Tech Motorsports persevered through an early mechanical problem to give Ostella a car in which he was turning very competitive lap times during his stint behind the wheel.
“The car was set up perfectly today,” Ostella said. “It was running great out there. It was very consistent; it’s unfortunate what happened. We started with an electrical issue, and it put us 20 laps down. Everything kind of snowballed from there.
“But the guys did an awesome job, just relentless out there. They got us out there as soon as they could. This team is full of people who just work hard.”
Ostella, from Maple, Ontario, drove the No. 38 Dash Neighborhoods/Phillips 66 car from ninth to fifth place in the early minutes of the race, reaching a peak of fourth place in class. But then trouble arrived less than an hour into the race.
On a restart after the first caution period, Ostella felt the car falter after it failed to shift. Falling back in the field, he was struck from behind by a passing car.
The team pulled Ostella into the pits for repairs and sent him back on track. But the problem persisted, as Ostella was unable to shift again shortly after he left the pits.
Performance Tech Motorsports Team Principal Brent O’Neill decided to pull the No. 38 Prototype Challenge car into the paddock to ensure the problem was found and solved. Engineer Ty Sayman and Lead Mechanic Shane Burbick discovered the wire to the compressor had broken, causing the car to not shift.
The repair was completed in 15 minutes, and Ostella headed back on track 54 minutes into the 10-hour race, while the course was under caution. Ostella was 18 laps down from the lead Prototype Challenge car.
Ostella handed the car to co-drivers James French and Mee before Mee’s accident while pushing hard to pass a GT Le Mans class car in the fast, fearsome, downhill Turn 12 on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit forced an early exit from the event.
The tough result was a disappointing end to an otherwise solid rookie season in the premier sports car racing championship in North America for Ostella, 22.
Ostella recorded two podium finishes in the ultra-competitive PC class, placing third in the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona in January and second in late August at Virginia International Raceway. He showed consistent speed in his first full season in a prototype sports car after starting in the North American junior open-wheel ranks and then winning the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin in 2013.
While Ostella spent a rewarding season learning about endurance sports car racing and honing his driving skills, he also produced a tremendous accomplishment outside of the cockpit of his race car.
Ostella successfully launched in early June the Dash from Breast Cancer campaign, which uses racing to help promote awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for breast cancer research.
He visited patients at hospitals in race markets across America, inspired by their stories of hope and courage, while also talking with doctors about the need for more awareness and funding. Ostella also hosted breast cancer survivors and their families at the racetrack, giving them an inside look at his world and providing them with a relaxing, fun day at the races.
Dash from Breast Cancer continues to raise funds for the Wings of Hope Foundation, a Toronto-area charity that supports breast cancer patients and survivors. Ostella was inspired to create Dash from Breast Cancer by Anna Rossetti, a family friend and breast cancer survivor who started Wings of Hope.
“I learned so much this season, both on and off the track,” Ostella said. “It was very rewarding to work, drive and absorb so much knowledge from a experienced professional like Brent O’Neill and his talented team at Performance Tech. I can’t thank them enough for helping me to grow as a driver and a person.
“But our effort with Dash from Breast Cancer was one the most amazing things I have ever done in my life. These brave women and their families have helped me put my tough days at the track into an entirely new perspective, and I’m more committed than ever to helping raise awareness and funding for this terrible disease that affects so many people.”
For updates on David Ostella, follow him on Twitter at @Perf_Tech and Facebook.