The Tequila Patron ESM team suffered a nightmare weekend at the 2017 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, seeing both their Nissan DPis retire before the halfway mark with mechanical issues.
The #2 of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, and Pipo Derani had issues before the race had even begun as boost issues left them starting behind the Prototype Challenge cars when the 12 hours got underway and the same issues would strike again in the opening hours of the race.
Derani would return to the garage for more than 100 laps as ESM’s mechanics tried their best to troubleshoot the issue and get the car back underway.
Derani added: “We wanted to get through to the end of the race, and we did not. After finishing at Daytona, we had high expectations for Sebring. At the end of the day, we knew it was going to be difficult in normal conditions. The track is hard on the cars, land tough on the drivers physically. Sebring has beaten us this time.”
As he alluded to after the race, Derani would get back out again as mechanics decided to run the race as a test programme in order to iron out any other gremlins that could have raised their heads, but with issues continuing to plague the #2 it was decided to call it a day just before the six-hour mark.
Sharp said: “It is disappointing all the way around. We turned the final laps into a test session to sort out some of our issues, and the 22 car had a great run going. It was sad to see a broken exhaust ended their day.”
Indeed, the #22 was going a lot better in the first half of the race, with Bruno Senna, Johannes van Overbeek, Ed Brown and Brendon Hartley all running good stints but at the 5hour 30mintue mark the team called in Senna to investigate an issue with the exhaust which soon proved to be terminal.
Senna explained: “It is a shame we got our race cut short. We were able to get into a groove and learn more about the car. With every mile we do, we learn more. Hopefully we can get to the next race with more problems sorted and a better set up for the car. We learned a lot. I’m looking forward to the next race in Watkins Glen. It’s a new track for me, so I need to do a few more laps to get on top of it. We’ll have a good and reliable car there.”
While Senna’s next race is the next round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, the next round for the team is April’s Bubba Burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach, where ESM will be hoping to come back strong from a challenging time in Florida.