Fourth Place Finish for Tequila Patrón ESM at Fuji
Fuji, Japan – It was a wet and wild Sunday in the shadows of Mount Fuji during the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) 6 Hours of Fuji. The race started with the safety car leading the first 45 minutes due to heavy rain and ended under dry conditions as the Tequila Patrón ESM team tied its best result of the season with a fourth-place finish.
Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-drivers of the No. 30 Tequila Patrón ESM earned their second consecutive fourth-place finish in WEC competition. The trio finished fourth at the 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas last month.
Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty, co-drivers of the No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM finished seventh in today’s race.
Managing the ever-changing track conditions and tire strategies were the keys to a successful race. The Florida-based team was forced to alter their strategy throughout the race because of heavy rain at the start, full course cautions and then eventually dry conditions. Finding the right balance of set-up, tire and race pace was a constant challenge as conditions changed as quickly as the weather.
The No. 30 team found pace mid-race when it opted for intermediate tires. Dalziel and Sharp set some fast laps, but ran out of time in the race. In the end, they found the right combination, establishing a pace comparable with the leaders and rebounded from last place. In the course of the six-hour race, the No. 30 team went from last to fourth.
The No. 31 team was finding its rhythm during the race, but ran into some bad luck. An off-track mid-race set the team back in the field playing catch-up for the balance of the race. In the end, the team found solid pace en-route to seventh place.
The 2015 FIA WEC season has been a learning year for Tequila Patrón ESM. The majority of the world-class venues are new to the team, in addition to the Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 machine, the team’s third chassis this season.
Fuji International Speedway was another new circuit for the team. A new, challenging venue with ever-changing track conditions provided the ideal opportunity for the team to apply different race strategies.
Up next for Tequila Patrón ESM is the 6 Hours of Shanghai on November 1. Last year, Tequila Patrón ESM finished second in its China debut.
“Tequila Patrón ESM did a great job today in extremely trying conditions! Big rain, poor visibility, ever-changing track conditions and cool temperatures led to some of the most challenging track conditions we have faced. We lost big time early on when we chose rain tires to begin the race which seemed the most obvious choice, but a change to intermediate dramatically improved our car. By the end of the race when a dry line finally formed, we were one of the quickest cars on track! Today’s fourth place doesn’t give enough credit to the progress we continue to make.”
“This was one of the most difficult races of the season, and we’ve had some tough weekends. Johannes did a great job at the start with the heavy rain. Visibility was nonexistent, but we managed to get through the race albeit with a few issues. It was great to bring Patrón to Japan. The fans were fantastic this weekend and very welcoming.”
“On a whole, we actually had a great race. We had the pace to be on the podium but when it came to luck, we just lacked. I can’t remember the last time I was in a race where everything we did with our strategy went the opposite way to what we needed. Between full course cautions, tires and driver changes, we seemed to keep getting caught out. As a team we fought back to a strong fourth-place finish. Looking forward to Shanghai, somewhere we have raced before and finished on the podium.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“It was raining at the start of the race with a lot of humidity, so the water wasn’t drying on the track. We ran the first 45 minutes of the race under yellow, which was the right call because visibility was a major factor; it was like driving with white paint on your windshield. We tried different tire strategies throughout the race but with the ever-changing track conditions, it was difficult to stay ahead of the weather and anticipate the caution periods.”
“The rain was a curveball, but once the track was dry, our lap times were relatively competitive. We knew it would be a tough weekend of learning the track and Fuji always seems to have weather that impacts the race. I had that off in Turn 16, but managed to get back to finish the race. This has been a learning season for the entire team.”
DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON
“Our car had good pace when the right tires for the conditions were fitted. Unfortunately for too many of the stints, they weren’t. We had a lot of strategy calls that could have gone either way, ended up going against us. That's racing sometimes, especially in tricky conditions.”
Tequila Patrón ESM