Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports will head to this weekend’s Sebring 12 Hours with victory in mind, after narrowly missing out on the top spot last year.
The American squad will recall its two HPD ARX-03b prototypes for the annual Floridian enduro, which doubles up as the second round of both the Tudor United Sportscar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson will drive the #1 HPD ARX-03b, with Ed Brown, Jon Fogarty and Johannes van Overbeek set to share the #2 machine. While ESM is yet to win the Sebring classic, there is plenty of experience in the two car line-up. Dalziel won the LMP2 class in 2012 driving for Starworks Motorsport, while Brown and van Overbeek have finished in the top five in the last two years.
In last year’s race ESM came within four seconds of victory at the 3.17 mile road course, which has given the team plenty of hope that the ARX-03b chassis can perform well again.
“We have a great setup for Sebring,” said Sharp. “We should have won the race last year. We led laps and had a huge lead on the field until that late caution. This car is competitive and knows its way around that bumpy track. We all feel really good about driving this car at Sebring.”
The decision to use the three year old chassis was made earlier this month, after ESM chose to postpone the homologation of its brand new HPD ARX-04b coupe. As a result, the ARX-03b model will also be used in the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with a pair of recently purchased Ligier JS P2s set to complete the season.
“HPD and Tequila Patrón ESM mutually decided to set aside the new ARX-04b coupes and compete in the reliable 03b open-cockpit prototype car from our last two seasons,” Sharp added. “It was a last-minute decision but we know this race car and we know what it can do at Sebring. We’re really looking forward to this weekend and we want to head into the FIA WEC with a Sebring win under our belt.”
Dalziel, who drove the final stint at last year’s incident-packed race, commented, “We’re racing in the Honda ARX-03b and that changes our approach to the race. With the coupe, we would have approached Sebring much like Daytona, as an endurance test. But with us returning to the 03b that was very dominant last year, I think now we are approaching the race, ready to win.
“Last year was very bittersweet. We got our first podium of the season but we really should have won, so we have some unfinished business with the HPD ARX-03bs and I know we can deliver.”
The 2015 Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida gets underway on Saturday, March 21 at 14:50 GMT.