Tequila Patron ESM is looking on the bright side despite a double retirement at the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team started on the back foot with the #1 HPD ARX-04b Coupe after a bell housing failure in practice left the team unable to qualify for the first round of the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship. That left the car at the back of the prototype field, in 16th position overall at the start of the twice round the clock endurance race.
Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Scott Sharp worked together to drag the machine from the back of the field to leading a lap of the race. An accident for Heinemeier-Hansson then hobbled the car in an accident on one of the many restarts. Ryan Dalziel took the car over after repairs but found a gearbox problem which ultimately forced the cars retirement.
The team car of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty had a harder race with an oil pressure problem in the second hour. The team found that a systems failure forced Overbeek, the only driver to actually race the car, back to the pits and into retirement at one hour and 43 minutes into the race.
Despite these issues the team are buoyant. Between the Roar Before the 24 and the race, the team now have data on Daytona and race experience of the only two HPD ARX-04b Coupes to have competed. This puts Extreme Speed Motorsports in a stronger position heading to the 63rd Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, the second race of the championship which gets underway on March 21.
Scott Sharp was delighted, “I had a great triple stint and got in a good groove with the car,” he said. “Sometimes you get into that rhythm and you can do almost anything with it. The car ran pretty good. Unfortunately we had some contact with the car, which resulted in a gearbox problem. At the end of the day, we had plenty of issues and we did not want to further damage the race car.
“When we started the race and the way the cards have been dealt to us with the new car, this was a 24-hour test and we made it 13 hours. There were a lot of bright spots along with some things we need to improve upon. We have a car that is damaged in a lot of little areas, and we need to go home and regroup at this point.”
Ed Brown from the #2 machine added, “We knew the Rolex 24 would be a tough event – on man and machine.
“We definitely have one of the hardest working crews in the paddock and they pulled out all the stops to get us ready for each session, qualifying and the race. These guys are amazing. I just wish we could have given them a solid finish to reward their efforts.
“We had reasonable expectations heading into this race. We’re disappointed in the result, but we’re appreciative of what we learned about the coupes this weekend. The No. 1 car ran strong and up front, so we know we have what it takes to get to the front of the field. We have some improvements and changes ahead of us. We’ll take these next few weeks and prepare for Sebring.”
Ryan Dalziel said, “We were on the lead lap at Hour 12, and in the top-five for a good chunk of the race. For a car that’s 10 days old, that’s pretty incredible. I feel bad for the guys that we couldn’t see it out these last few hours. We came here expecting a 24-hour test.
“At this point, there is more for us to gain by going back to the shop, regrouping and coming back stronger at Sebring. Massive credit to everyone on the team; I think it was a phenomenal show from everybody. The car showed pace and reliability, and that’s some of the biggest hurdles. We’ll keep working on it and be stronger at the next one.”