Top-10 Qualifying Effort for ESM Patrón at Sebring
- 14 March 2014
No. 1 qualifies fourth; No. 2 qualifies eighth
SEBRING, Fla. – The Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) team continued on its trek to a home track victory at Sebring International Raceway today during qualifying for the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. As the second race on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule and second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC), ESM seeks its first team win of the season and valuable points in both the series championship as well as the NAEC.
The Stuart, Fla.-based team maximized on-track time and continually made improvements to the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b race cars. A daunting 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit requires the race cars to be engineered to maximum capacity. The Sebring venue is notoriously brutal on machinery, but ESM has the wherewithal to ensure the race cars withstand the 12-hour event.
Ryan Dalziel qualified the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD in the fourth position, with a best lap time of 1:52.662 (119.508 mph) less one second behind the pole-winning car. Dalziel, a two-time winner at Sebring, was pleased with the qualifying effort and confident the race car will improve throughout the race.
Co-driver Scott Sharp will pilot the No. 1 for the first stint on Saturday, followed by David Brabham and then Dalziel. As the race progresses, the team is prepared for the ever-changing conditions, especially since the race runs from the warm morning, hot afternoon and slowly fades into cooler evening temperatures.
Johannes van Overbeek qualified the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD in the eighth position. During the 15-minute qualifying session, van Overbeek’s best lap time was 1:53.393 (118.737 mph), less than two seconds behind the pole-winning car. Satisfied with the starting position, van Overbeek and co-drivers Ed Brown and Simon Pagenaud are focusing on maintaining a lead spot in the class and running a clean racing all the way to the podium.
At the start of the race, van Overbeek will be behind the wheel. Brown is set to drive second, followed by Pagenaud. One year ago, Brown, van Overbeek and then co-driver Anthony Lazzaro finished fourth in this event. The benchmark has been set for this team and a podium finish is the target.
Before the sun rises at Sebring, ESM will formulate its race strategy. Part of the team’s strategy will be a discussion on managing traffic and equipment during the 12-hour race. Saturday’s schedule includes a 25-minute warm-up session at 8 a.m.
The second race of 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 12-15. Green flag for the 12 Hours of Sebring is 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 15. FOX Sports 1 live coverage runs from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (ET). The race will be streamed on www.IMSA.com from 1 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.
“We’re happy with qualifying. The car was definitely the best it has been this weekend. We stayed after the official test for a private test and we learned a lot more about the car. We came back this week and I think everybody has been struggling a little bit with the track. We’ve been keeping our heads down and not worrying too much about lap times and trying to make the car better, which we have done.
“Great job by all the ESM Patrón crew on the No. 1 car this week. I’m really excited for the race now. I definitely think we have a car that is going to be in the front. It is going to be interesting to see how we all play nice together with the different cars on track. This was a very encouraging qualifying session for us. I don’t think we are perfect, but we can still tune on it and make a couple of improvements.
“Once you get into the race, it is a different animal. The track changes a lot from morning to afternoon to night. We feel like we have a good car this time of day. We need to make sure the car is good at all hours of the race – in the heat of the day and cooler night conditions. We have a strong lineup with Scott, David and me.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“The track has been changing all week. We were good in the last practice leading up to qualifying. We’re in the race and we have a good car. It should be a good day for the No. 2 ESM Patrón team.
“This is going to be a challenging race with 64 cars, dirt everywhere and the variety of talent in the drivers. This race will be won by the most patient drivers that are smart and use good judgment throughout the course of the race. We’re hoping for a safe race and that the No. 2 car makes it to the end.
“The nature of this race and with this variety of cars, you’re going to have to take chances to get past people. Hopefully everybody is paying attention and looking and it will all be fine. I’m looking forward to having clean, fast and uneventful stints.”