Tequila Patrón ESM Celebrates Podium after Chaotic Spa-Francorchamps
Saturday’s race at the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps can only be described as dramatically unpredictable. The lead for the LMP2 class battle grew more intense as the hours went on, leading to a final lap battle for the podium steps. Tequila Patrón ESM earned a second podium finish of the 2016 WEC season, securing a third place finish in a tight points fight for the LMP2 class championship.
Throughout practice and qualifying the high downforce Nissan Ligiers struggled to find pace at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, despite topping the charts in the opening practice session. For the Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan Ligiers, the race began like any other, with Pipo Derani starting 8th in the No. 31, and Scott Sharp starting 12th in the No. 30. Both drivers advanced position during their opening stints, with the most impressive jump up the charts happening during the first round of pit stops. Derani pitted the car in 9th, and after a perfectly executed stop, the Brazilian left the pits four positions ahead in 5th. During his opening stint, Sharp brought the No. 30 into the top 10 before passing the driving duties on to Johannes van Overbeek.
The first full course yellow appeared just past the hour and a half mark, and during the caution, the team switched out Derani for Chris Cumming, who rejoined the field in 4th. Cumming ran strong in the top five until he suffered a punctured tire, resulting in an unscheduled pit stop for the team. Meanwhile, Overbeek moved up two more positions to 8th as the event hit the halfway point. After running in a steady 6th place position, Cumming passed the wheel to Ryan Dalziel, who rejoined the field in 7th, and quickly worked his way up to 6th, with Overbeek one position behind.
As the laps continued, virtually every car in the LMP1 class suffered a setback, increasing the level of anxiousness surrounding the event. With just over two hours remaining, Ed Brown took over the No. 30 from Overbeek, rejoining in 9th, while Dalziel continued to push, breaking into the top five, and eventually the top three before pitting. As the field approached the final hour of the race, the team made the final driver changes, putting Overbeek back in the No. 30 and Derani into the No. 31.
With less than an hour remaining in the race, a GT crash brought out the safety car, allowing Tequila Patrón ESM to make their final pit stops. The stop brought Derani up to 2nd position as the field went back to green with 40 minutes to go. Derani and Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 43 RGR Sport by Morand car battled heavily for 2nd position, with class leader Nicholas Lapierre still in need of a final stop for fuel. Roberto Merhi in the No. 45 joined the fight, passing Derani for the lead. Shortly after, the new leader was forced to pit due to a penalty incurred during his most recent pit stop. With just 10 minutes to go, Derani reassumed the lead on old tires, able to keep off Albuquerque for the following seven minutes. In a suspenseful three-wide pass involving a GT car, Derani and Albuquerque kept the integrity in the competition, and Albuquerque, on fresher tires, resumed the lead. After an incredible six hours of some of the best racing sports cars has to offer, the No. 31 finished in 2nd place, earning their second podium of the 2016 race season. Johannes van Overbeek crossed the line in 7th, an impressive feat considering the car’s set up struggles throughout the endurance event.
Tequila Patrón ESM now sits 3rd in the FIA Endurance Trophy LMP2 Team Championship, just four points away from first. Dalziel, Derani and Cumming also sit 3rd in the FIA Endurance Trophy LMP2 Driver Championship, just one point away from the leaders. The next event on the FIA World Endurance Championship is the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The world’s oldest sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is hailed as the “who’s who” of sports car racing. Drivers, cars and crew are put to the test for 24 hours of all-out competition at Circuit de la Sarthe, a 38 turn, 8.4 mile road course nestled in Le Mans France. A test day for the event will be held on June 5, with the official event taking place June 15-16, 2016. For more information, visit www.24h-lemans.com.
Ryan Dalziel // No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2
Fantastic result on a race weekend we knew we would struggle with outright speed. The team got very creative with strategy and with a good amount of luck it paid off and we got Pipo out in 2nd after the final pit stops. Results like this are what win championships. It’s not about the dominating wins, it’s about the bad weekends where you come away with podiums that are most rewarding to me. We are 3rd in the championship, only one point behind so we are ready to win the 24 hours of Le Mans and take over the top spot. Thank you everyone at Tequila Patrón ESM for never giving up this weekend
Pipo Derani // No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2
A difficult weekend that turned out to be good in points. We knew this track wasn’t going to suit our car compared to our rivals but with a great team effort and strategy we finished second. Thanks to each single individual in ESM, again they did another flawless performance on the pits.
Chris Cumming // No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2
The team did an amazing job on to achieve this result on a difficult weekend. Great stints by the guys and great strategy calls from pit wall earned this podium.
Ed Brown // No. 30 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2
It was a tough day for the 30 car but we fought through a car that wasn’t the best. I’m so proud of the 31 car finishing 2nd place, great start to the WEC season!
Scott Sharp // No. 30 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2
It was a tough weekend for the Patrón ESM team, chasing the balance on a track as fast and challenging as the Spa circuit. But we persevered and got some strong points and the 31 guys did a great to come close to winning the race and finishing 2nd! Another podium!
Johannes van Overbeek // No. 30 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2
It was tough race for the number 30. We struggled with the setup but the Tequila Patrón ESM guys always delivered great put work and strategy. Hats off to the 31 car for another great result.