Front-row start for Tequila Patrón ESM at Sebring
SEBRING, Fla., – March 20, 2015 – Ryan Dalziel roared around Sebring International Raceway on Friday afternoon en route to a front-row starting position for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race – the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. Three-tenths of a second (.303) separated Dalziel from the pole-winning team as he earned Tequila Patrón ESM’s first front-row start of the season.
In its first U.S. appearance this year with Tequila Patrón ESM, the Honda Performance Development ARX-03b (HPD) showed it has plenty of fight left in it. Dalziel, in the No. 1 Tequila Patrón ESM HPD ARX-03b, sprinted around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit in 1:51.455 (120.802 mph). The last time this prototype saw sportscar competition was a runner-up finish at the November FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) race in China. Before that, the last time the No. 1 machine competed in the TUDOR Championship was at Road America in August, where Dalziel and co-driver Scott Sharp started from the pole and finished third.
Dalziel will start the race for the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD team, Sharp will drive second, and David Heinemeier Hansson will drive third. Each driver is slated to drive at least two stints during the 12-hour endurance race.
Johannes van Overbeek, co-driver of the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM HPD ARX-03b, logged the eighth-quickest lap of qualifying with a 1:53.047 (119.101 mph). The last time the No. 2 machine competed in the TUDOR Championship was during Circuit of The Americas race in September. The team wrestled with setup in search of the right combination to maneuver about the rough-and-tumble Sebring circuit. Before tomorrow’s race, the No. 2 team will replicate the setup of the No. 1 machine.
The No. 2 team will have van Overbeek start the race, followed by Ed Brown and then Jon Fogarty.
Earlier this month, Tequila Patrón ESM and Honda Performance Development mutually agreed that it would be competitively advantageous to run the ARX-03b at Sebring. Last year, Tequila Patrón ESM earned a runner-up finishing at Sebring and won the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last May with the ARX-03b.
The second race of 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup is the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Green flag for the 12 Hours of Sebring is 10:40 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, March 21.
The Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) includes the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the season finale Petit Le Mans. Watch the Tequila Patrón ESM drivers explain the significance of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance.
TV Coverage – Saturday, March 21
FOX Sports 1 live coverage runs from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (ET).
FOX Sports 2 live coverage runs from 12:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. (ET)
IMSA.com coverage runs from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. (ET)
FOX Sports 2 live coverage runs from 10 p.m. – 11 p.m. (ET)
TV Coverage – Sunday, March 22
FOX Sports 1 will broadcast a two-hour recap show from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. (ET)
“I’ve got to thank everybody on the team for busting their tails for these last few weeks. It has been a difficult winter and Daytona. Then another tough couple of weeks leading up to Sebring and reverting back to the old cars. We really wanted to have a good showing in qualifying. After final practice we felt confident we had a second row car, we thought we could be third or fourth, but we found some time. The car is as good as it has ever been here. It is a 12-hour race, but nice to see that we have some pace. We haven’t run these cars since China last year. Now with the different rule package of an extra 40 kilos and different restrictor, we had a lot of work to do. Everyone worked so hard, the Tequila Patrón ESM engineers got the car dialed-in. We’re only three-tenths off the Krohn (pole-winning team) car and that is more than we expected today, but it is exactly what is deserved for the amount of work that has gone into this car.
“This car and I go a way back here. This ARX-03b was the first LMP2 car I drove at Sebring in 2012. We’ve had some success in this car both with Tequila Patrón ESM and Starworks. When we tested the 03b three weeks ago, we all jumped in and said that it felt like home. Thanks again to everyone at HPD and Tequila Patrón ESM for being able to make this happen and get this old girl back. She’s still got some life in her. Clearly she’s getting better with age.
“Sebring is a strange race because the temperature changes so much. It is more like three sprint races, the first four hours are rough, and the track is pretty dirty overnight. The middle four hours is treacherous because it gets so hot. Then the last four when the sun goes down, it really does become a sprint race.
“We have a great lineup with Scott and David. One of our main goals was to get a comfortable car for 12 hours and that’s what we have.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“We used a different setup than the No. 1 car and we just didn’t have enough laps under our belts to know if we needed to change setups. Qualifying was a real bear, a lot of understeer and difficult to turn. Congratulations to Ryan and the No. 1 car; they did an awesome job. They posted times faster than anybody thought this old car could go, including them. We’ll take their setup and have a good starting point tomorrow. It was a frustrating session for us. But they seem to have found something that works and we’ll follow their lead. Our car will have the same setup for tomorrow. We know what we need to do and we’ll follow that plan. Ultimately we want to see the podium and get these cars packed and ready to head to France for the FIA WEC test.”