Rollercoaster Rolex for ESM Patrón
- Sunday, 26 January 2014 22:26
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new era of sports car racing began this weekend at the 52nd Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, the inaugural race of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the first round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).
For 24 hours, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) battled against some of the best racers from around the world. At the end of the endurance race, the team finished seventh and 15th in the highly-competitive prototype class that was comprised of former American Le Mans Series (ALMS) P2s and former GRAND-AM Daytona Prototypes.
Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Brabham, co-drivers of the No. 1 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b, earned a 15th place finish in class. The three former Rolex 24 At Daytona winners had a rollercoaster of a race, filled with highs and lows typical of endurance racing, with tough competition, a race-high run of sixth place and an unusual gearbox failure.
Following the gearbox replacement, the No. 1 machine was coming on strong and working its way toward the front. During the late Saturday and early Sunday hours, drivers of the No. 1 were posting consistent lap times and steadily working their way through traffic, closer to the front of the prototype field.
Near the midpoint of the race, Sharp completed his triple stint and turned the race car over to Dalziel in the very early Sunday hours. Dalziel experienced no issues during his two-hour stint before handing the car over to Brabham.
Shortly after 4:30 a.m., Brabham radioed to the crew and informed them there was a small fire and he stopped near the fire station at Turn 3. Unable to re-start the car, Brabham was assisted back to the pits by series officials via tow truck. Once in the pits, the team was able to inspect and diagnosis the issue. Shortly after the 15th race hour, the No. 1 car was forced into retirement with terminal failure in components that cannot be changed during the Rolex 24.
Better luck shined on the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Anthony Lazzaro and Simon Pagenaud, crossing the finish line in seventh place in prototype class.
Two early incidents troubled the No. 2 team through the entire race - an opening lap tap during van Overbeek’s stint, which caused damage to the left rear and an off-track adventure in the Bus Stop chicane during Brown’s stint that damaged the right rear bodywork, as well as the suspension.
Despite handling issues throughout nearly the entire course of the event, van Overbeek, Brown, Lazzaro and Pagenaud proved that consistency and persistence were the keys to success. The lineup alternated driving duties throughout the night and reached the top-10 in the early Sunday morning hours. When the checkered flag flew was scored seventh with Pagenaud behind the wheel.
“This weekend didn’t end up like we hoped. We showed good speed with the car and the crew did a great job fixing the first problem and the second one was just something that happened. Both problems were out of our control. We had a bit of bad luck this weekend.
“I’m really proud of the team. I had a blast my first time with ESM and Tequila Patrón. It was great to see the No. 2 car finish strong at the end. It is encouraging going onto Sebring. We definitely have a little bit of work to do but for our first time out, in a new series with all the new variables, there are very encouraging signs for the rest of the year.”
Next up for Extreme Speed Motorsports is the IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 20-21.
Round 2 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and second race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup takes place during the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway on March 12 - 15, 2014.