Opening Hours of Rolex 24 Unkind to ESM Patrón Team
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., – In the first quarter of the 52nd Rolex At Daytona, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) experienced the traditional highs and lows of a twice-around-the-clock race. At the six hour race mark, the No. 1 Tequila Patrón race car was 16th and the No. 2 Tequila Patrón machine was 14th in the prototype class.
All seven drivers completed their first stints in the race cars with mixed results.
Scott Sharp opened the race for the No. 1 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b. Sharp had a strong opening stint and charged his way from 18th to eighth in class. There was one minor off-track incident in the Bus Stop. While battling against another competitor, Sharp made a quick move to avoid massive contact. He spun but was able to recover before handing the car over to co-driver Ryan Dalziel.
Dalziel rejoined the race in a race-high of sixth position. A brief 30 minutes into his stint (approximately two hours of competition), Dalziel radioed the crew and was experiencing issues with forward drive. Dalziel drove to the pits where the team disassembled the car and replaced the gearbox.
While replacing the gearbox, the No. 99 prototype of Memo Gidley (No. 99) hit the No. 62 GTLM car of Matteo Malucelli and caused a red flag. While the red flag was shown, the No. 1 crew, per series rules, was forced to stop replacing the gearbox until the yellow flag was shown, nearly two hours later.
One the team was able to complete the repair, Dalziel and the No. 1 team returned to the track with just less than five hours of race time completed.
Brabham began his stint shortly after the six hour mark of the race.
The No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD team also experienced a few ups-and-downs in the opening segment of the race.
Johannes van Overbeek opened the race from the 15th position in class. An opening lap incident caused some minor damage to the left rear corner, but that didn’t stop van Overbeek from charging to a race-high of third place in class. Following his opening hour-long stint, van Overbeek turned the car over to Ed Brown.
Shortly into his stint, Brown had an off-track incident in the Bus Stop and made contact with the tire wall causing damage to the body and suspension system. Brown drove the No. 2 Tequila Patrón machine back to the garage where the team was able to repair the race car. Brown returned to the track and completed his stint.
Anthony Lazzaro and Simon Pagenaud completed their first stints in the No. 2 machine before the quarter mark of the race.
The 52nd Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona is the season opening race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the first round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).
The race will air live on FOX Sports 2 until 9 p.m. tonight. Overnight coverage is available on www.imsa.com from 9 p.m.- 7 a.m. Live television coverage resumes on FOX Sports 1 at 7 a.m. until checkered flag.
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“We had a really great opening stint and it exceeded our expectations. We raced with more guys than we expected and were getting through traffic really well. We worked our way up a couple of spots, which was nice. There was one little hiccup on my part, I went underneath the Nissan in the Bus Stop and he just turned in on me. He was going to take off my front nose if I didn’t pinch the car way to the left and that made me spin. It was unfortunate, but luckily we didn’t lose a lap.
“Ryan was strong in his stint until the gearbox problem. The team replaced the gearbox, but that red flag period set us back a little more. The guys worked really hard to get us back to the track.
“This is not how we wanted to start the race, but there is plenty of time left on the clock. We’ll see what happens during the next segments of the race.”
“Something just snapped when I was going through the Bus Stop. I was able to get it back to the garage and the guys went to work. There was some suspension and bodywork damage, but the guys made a quick repair and we were back on track.
“This is not the way we wanted to start the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, but hopefully both cars can come out with some points and move on. Both crews have done an amazing job repairing both cars.”
“We lost forward drive coming out of the Bus Stop. I’m disappointed. This is a big race for Patrón and both cars are having some issues early on here. This race is about championships and the guys worked hard to get us back on-track.
“We made it back on track and our plan is to complete as many laps and gain as many places as we can. This isn’t how we want to start the race and the season, but that’s racing.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“It has been a rough start for the No. 2 Tequila Patrón car. At the start of the race, someone turned in on my left rear corner. I pitted and the team looked at the car, made a few adjustments and we were back on-track and made some great progress.
“It was satisfying getting up to third place before turning the car over to Ed. Unfortunately, Ed got caught out on cold tires and he had some contact. The crew did a great job getting us back out. We'll see how it goes from here.
“My thoughts are with Memo, Matteo and their families. I hope both drivers are okay.”