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Jan 27, 2014 - 06:17 AM
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Rollercoaster Rolex for ESM Patron Team
Posted by: newsla on Jan 27, 2014 - 06:16 AM
Grand Am News
Rollercoaster Rolex for ESM Patron Team


The new era of sports car racing began this weekend at the 52nd Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, the inaugural race of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the first round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).

 

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For 24 hours, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) battled against some of the best racers from around the world. At the end of the endurance race, the team finished seventh and 15th in the highly-competitive prototype class that was comprised of former American Le Mans Series (ALMS) P2s and former GRAND-AM Daytona Prototypes.

Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Brabham, co-drivers of the No. 1 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b, earned a 15th place finish in class. The three former Rolex 24 At Daytona winners had a rollercoaster of a race, filled with highs and lows typical of endurance racing, with tough competition, a race-high run of sixth place and an unusual gearbox failure.

Following the gearbox replacement, the No. 1 machine was coming on strong and working its way toward the front. During the late Saturday and early Sunday hours, drivers of the No. 1 were posting consistent lap times and steadily working their way through traffic, closer to the front of the prototype field.

Near the midpoint of the race, Sharp completed his triple stint and turned the race car over to Dalziel in the very early Sunday hours. Dalziel experienced no issues during his two-hour stint before handing the car over to Brabham.

Shortly after 4:30 a.m., Brabham radioed to the crew and informed them there was a small fire and he stopped near the fire station at Turn 3. Unable to re-start the car, Brabham was assisted back to the pits by series officials via tow truck. Once in the pits, the team was able to inspect and diagnosis the issue. Shortly after the 15th race hour, the No. 1 car was forced into retirement with terminal failure in components that cannot be changed during the Rolex 24.

Better luck shined on the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Anthony Lazzaro and Simon Pagenaud, crossing the finish line in seventh place in prototype class.

Two early incidents troubled the No. 2 team through the entire race - an opening lap tap during van Overbeek’s stint, which caused damage to the left rear and an off-track adventure in the Bus Stop chicane during Brown’s stint that damaged the right rear bodywork, as well as the suspension.

Despite handling issues throughout nearly the entire course of the event, van Overbeek, Brown, Lazzaro and Pagenaud proved that consistency and persistence were the keys to success. The lineup alternated driving duties throughout the night and reached the top-10 in the early Sunday morning hours. When the checkered flag flew was scored seventh with Pagenaud behind the wheel.

Next up for Extreme Speed Motorsports is the IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 20-21.

Round 2 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and second race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup takes place during the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway on March 12 - 15, 2014.

SCOTT SHARP
“It was a tough day for us. It wasn’t what we expected. We really thought we might have been a little bit down on pace and reliability would be our forte. Unfortunately it was the opposite. In some ways it is nice to see us a little more competitive than expected but then we had the gearbox problems and a mechanical problem.

“The No. 2 had a variety of small problems, but they did a really good job persevering through and picking up some very valuable seventh-place points. It was a great job by everybody on the No. 2 car. We’ll learn what we can from here, pick up the pieces and be much stronger at Sebring.

“It was our first Rolex 24 together in the prototype cars. I think we would probably do things different if we came back tomorrow. We’ll take what we learned here and improve.

“I’ve got to thank the entire ESM Tequila Patrón team for their efforts; it was a great job all. It has been a long grid. We didn’t have much downtime this off-season. The team just worked really hard to get us here.”

ED BROWN
“Anytime you finish a 24-hour race, that’s a huge accomplishment. Finishing seventh with the issues we had, that’s a pretty good finish.

“The No. 1 car unfortunately struggled with gearbox issues. This is not the way we want to start the new season. We learned a lot. Hopefully HPD learned a lot and it sets us up for a good year.

“This is a race about the crews and how great of a job they do. They don’t get to sleep and they’ll fight to do whatever needs to be done to get the cars back out on track. This weekend the finish is about the crew.”

RYAN DALZIEL
“This weekend didn’t end up like we hoped. We showed good speed with the car and the crew did a great job fixing the first problem and the second one was just something that happened. Both problems were out of our control. We had a bit of bad luck this weekend.

“I’m really proud of the team. I had a blast my first time with ESM and Tequila Patrón. It was great to see the No. 2 car finish strong at the end. It is encouraging going onto Sebring. We definitely have a little bit of work to do but for our first time out, in a new series with all the new variables, there are very encouraging signs for the rest of the year.”

JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“This Rolex 24 was one of the tougher ones. We had to overcome a lot of adversity this weekend. The car was quite tricky to drive. Going out on cold tires is always a hair-raising experience. My hat is off to Ed, Simon and Anthony, everyone did a great job.

“A seventh place finish is a good way to start the year with the points system. We’ll take it and move on.

“Once the bodywork was damaged, it had a lot of high-speed vibrations. We were sort of on an island in eighth place. We tried to catch up to the competition and make a pass. We were successful, but we didn’t have enough time to get to the front.

“I’m really looking forward to Sebring to see how the balance of performance and the competition shakes up.”

DAVID BRABHAM
“We had the gearbox problem at the beginning. The car was running fine. We were trying to get to the finish and had another issue.

“At the start/finish line there was a big shutter and a bang at the back of the car. That was it, I’m afraid.

“My time in the car other than the last stint was fine and fairly trouble-free. It is difficult. Some of the DPs, they’ve obviously turned the engines down on some of them because they are just a little bit quicker than us on the straight which makes it really difficult to get past. I got stuck behind the Target car twice and I’m all over him in the corner and he’s just too strong on the straight. I’m not racing him, so I can’t do anything stupid; I just have to wait for an opportunity to get past. If it was safer I would have done it and I would have pulled away. But unless an opportunity like that came, I was going to do anything desperate because I didn’t want to wreck anybody’s race. That was the policy – just keep it clean, which all the drivers had done.

“The crew has done a great job this weekend. They fixed the first problem and got that through as quick as they could. The car was running strong after that. It is a shame. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from the experience and we’ll go to Sebring stronger.”

ANTHONY LAZZARO
“If it wasn’t for that bad luck in the beginning, I think we would have had a decent result. I don’t think we had the pace to run up front. Other than a little mishap, the race was trouble free. It is unfortunate the way it goes, but at least the car ran the whole time. All my stints were good with not much drama other than the drink bottle came loose.

“I was lucky enough to be able to drive a lot at the Rolex 24. My first stint was three hours, and then I did two hours and forty-five minutes and then another two hours, so I’m happy.”

SIMON PAGENAUD
“This is my first time finishing the Rolex 24, so it is an achievement. It was the first of a lot of things this weekend. The first time the two series were together and the first time the Prototype and Daytona Prototype cars were together. Daytona is all about straight-line speeds, so we struggled a little bit, but I think Sebring will suit us better. It was enjoyable. I enjoyed driving the car. The ESM Patrón team was awesome all night. Everybody was on the deck the whole time and worked hard to get us this finish. It was a very enjoyable weekend. I really enjoyed working with the team. I look forward to Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

“It was a lot of fun being back in a HPD. I love those cars. What they provide you fitting-wise as a driver is very enjoyable. Plus the HPD engine held on really well. There’s a lot to extract of those cars in high-speed corners and I enjoy that. I have a lot of very good memories with the HPD, so it is like a shoe that I know well.”

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