Early Exit for Tequila Patrón ESM at Rolex 24
Daytona Beach, Fla. – Tequila Patrón ESM might have exited the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona earlier than expected, but the team is leaving with confidence in the new Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-04b coupes. Despite two DNFs on the official results, the team has more experience with the new cars that can be used as preparation for the next race at Sebring International Raceway in March.
The No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson started from the 16th position. Since the team did not participate in qualifying on Thursday, the IMSA rule book states the team must start at the end of the Prototype and Prototype Challenge categories. The No. 1 suffered an issue in the bell housing during Thursday’s morning practice that prevented it from participating in qualifying.
The No. 1 Tequila Patrón crew installed a new bell housing and engine early Friday morning just in time to turn laps in the final practice session. By the time the green flag dropped on Saturday morning, there were less than two hours of Daytona track time on the No. 1 race car.
Dalziel started the race and reached eighth position in 32 minutes. He ran for nearly two hours before a scheduled driver change to Sharp, as the No. 1 team double-stinted the early hours of the race. Sharp ran nearly two hours before turning the car over to Heinemeier Hansson in third position. Heinemeier Hansson kept the team running in the top-10, two laps behind the leaders.
Dalziel started his second stint in eighth place and two laps down. In an impressive triple stint late into Saturday, three caution periods and quick-thinking pit strategies enabled Dalziel to advance into the top-five. Dalziel pitted while in second place for Sharp to begin his second stint.
Sharp was shuffled back in the field during the pit stop. During his triple stint, two more caution periods and pit stop strategies allowed him to regain laps and track position, and be credited with leading one lap during the race. It marked the first time the HPD coupe led a race lap. Sharp kept his top-five run throughout the remainder of his stint.
Heinemeier Hansson started his second stint of the race shortly after 12:30 a.m., and ran a double. Near the halfway point of the race, Heinemeier Hansson spun in Turn 3 and made contact with the tire barrier, but was able to free himself from the barrier and rejoin the race. Following a quick caution, Heinemeier Hansson was behind a competitor car that checked-up on a restart. Heinemeier Hansson also checked-up, locked the tires and made contact with the wall. He drove to the garage for the team to replace the damaged nose. A driver change to Dalziel was made upon repair completion.
Dalziel returned to the race and several laps later reported to the crew there was an issue with the gearbox. Dalziel brought the No. 1 car to the garage and the team disassembled the race car and determined there was a problem with the transmission. The team attempted to repair the damaged gearbox, but upon further inspection, the team opted to retire from the race at 5 a.m. to prevent further damage to the car.
Despite the early retirement, the No. 1 Tequila Patrón team made considerable progress with the new HPD and ultimately led the race in the competition debut of the HPD coupe.
The race ended much sooner for the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD team of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty.
In the opening stint, van Overbeek advanced from the 12th starting position to sixth place. He pitted once for fuel and tires and then strategically pitted under caution for fuel. Approximately 40 minutes later, van Overbeek radioed the crew about oil pressure drops. He slowed on the track and was instructed by the crew to take the car to the garage.
The No. 2 crew diagnosed the issue as a systems failure that caused the race car to lose power and retired from the race after one hour and 43 minutes.
Although neither Tequila Patrón HPD completed the 24 Hours at Daytona, the team walks away from Daytona with a better understanding of the new racing machines.
Round 2 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and second race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup takes place during the 63rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway on March 18-21, 2015.
“I had a great triple stint and got in a good groove with the car. Sometimes you get into that rhythm and you can do almost anything with it. The car ran pretty good. Unfortunately we had some contact with the car, which resulted in a gearbox problem. At the end of the day, we had plenty of issues and we did not want to further damage the race car.
“When we started the race and the way the cards have been dealt to us with the new car, this was a 24-hour test and we made it 13 hours. There were a lot of bright spots along with some things we need to improve upon. We have a car that is damaged in a lot of little areas, and we need to go home and regroup at this point.
“We were much more competitive than we expected. We know there are areas that we need to work on and further develop. The Rolex 24 At Daytona was really the first true test for this car. There are a lot of positives, but we also have a lot of work ahead of us.
“The entire Tequila Patrón ESM team has given an unbelievable and relentless effort the last few days. Thanks to all the engineers and crew members for getting us to the Rolex 24. We’re looking forward to Sebring and other races this year.”
“Thank you to the entire Tequila Patrón ESM team for their tireless efforts this weekend. They have worked non-stop since the first coupe arrived in December, through the Roar and all this weekend at the Rolex. We knew the Rolex 24 would be a tough event – on man and machine.
“We definitely have one of the hardest working crews in the paddock and they pulled out all the stops to get us ready for each session, qualifying and the race. These guys are amazing. I just wish we could have given them a solid finish to reward their efforts.
“We had reasonable expectations heading into this race. We’re disappointed in the result, but we’re appreciative of what we learned about the coupes this weekend. The No. 1 car ran strong and up front, so we know we have what it takes to get to the front of the field. We have some improvements and changes ahead of us. We’ll take these next few weeks and prepare for Sebring.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“This is an unfortunate end to our Rolex 24. It was a beautiful day for racing. There’s a great field of drivers and great crowd at Daytona. Ed, Jon and I were looking forward to a nice long race. Sadly, we lost power in the Honda. We’re not sure what happened yet. We’ll dig into it and figure it out. We need to regroup and get some more work done before Sebring.
“Developing a new car is challenging. To get everything to work together harmoniously for each practice session and a 24-hour race is a big undertaking. HPD, Wirth Research and the Tequila Patrón ESM crew have worked countless hours to get us here. We’re happy that we made the race with two cars.
“The stint was very challenging; I just had to be gentle with the car. Then coming out of the bus stop, I heard a flutter and then there was an alarm, so I shut it off. Sadly, we’re done.
“We learned a lot this weekend. We have plenty of time to work out the new car before Sebring.”
“The car was good. We made some changes from Friday’s practice. It seemed like we could run with the leaders especially my first stint. I was happy with both my stints. It was really great to see the Tequila Patrón car run up front with the difficult month that the guys have had building the cars.
“We were on the lead lap at Hour 12, and in the top-five for a good chunk of the race. For a car that’s 10 days old, that’s pretty incredible. I feel bad for the guys that we couldn’t see it out these last few hours. We came here expecting a 24-hour test.
“At this point, there is more for us to gain by going back to the shop, regrouping and coming back stronger at Sebring. Massive credit to everyone on the team; I think it was a phenomenal show from everybody. The car showed pace and reliability, and that’s some of the biggest hurdles. We’ll keep working on it and be stronger at the next one.”
“It was a disappointing day for Tequila Patrón ESM here at Rolex 24. We were really hoping for a much longer race to get to know these HPD coupes a little better.
“Huge thanks to the crew for all their efforts this weekend. The guys pulled long hours and did everything they could to get us ready for the race.
“I’ve learned over the years that this can be a tough and unforgiving race. I’m certainly not going to give up on winning at the Rolex 24 and I know Tequila Patrón ESM won’t either.
“It was great to see the No. 1 team run as long as they did and near the front of the field. We have a bit of work to do before Sebring, but I’m confident that we’ll be ready to go.”
DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON
“You kind of have to dance the car at the edge to make it turn. That’s fine and fun as long as you catch it every time. Then the few times you don’t catch it, it isn’t that fun.
“The HPD coupe is brand new to everyone and after my last few seasons in a GT car, I have a slightly steeper learning curve. I’m learning and adapting to the nuances of the HPD coupe.
“It was a strong effort by the entire Tequila Patrón ESM team this week. The crew worked hard to get us a race car to last the entire race. I wish we could have had a better showing for the coupe, but we learned new things about the car that we can apply to the entire season. It would have been nice to complete the race, but we were in the top-five and top-10 for the majority of the race. I see the potential in this car. We have some work ahead of us, but we have a foundation and we’ll improve from there.”
Tequila Patrón ESM