Tequila Patron ESM gained valuable track time in their pair of Ligier JS P2-Honda’s in the opening practice and qualifying sessions at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Only six weeks ago the team took delivery of their two race cars and jumped straight in at the deep end at the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa. Since the last race the team have been working hard to make developments ahead of the gruelling 24 hour test.
The #30 Rolling Stone Ligier JS P2 Honda of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson finished the qualifying session in fifteenth position in the highly competitive LMP2 class while the sister #31 Rolling Stone Ligier JS P2 Honda of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty came home eighteenth.
“Tonight’s session was good” said Sharp. “It was our first opportunity to run at night, and you have to get used to the darkness. Every lap around this place is awesome. I’m more comfortable in the Ligier with every session. Ryan set a pretty good time earlier tonight and we were hoping to go a little faster toward the end. We’re all learning and moving in the right direction.
“It is so exciting to finally bring Tequila Patrón ESM to Le Mans. We’ve wanted to race here since we started the team in 2010. We’re super excited to be here. I’m pleased with the progress we’re making. I love the car; the Ligier is fantastic. I think we have a great package. Earlier in practice, we came out with a good, strong baseline set-up and we just need to keep improving and execute a great strategy.”
Brown added “We haven’t had many laps in the dry here, so it is difficult because usually you have muscle memory of which way the track goes. It was good. The headlight needed some adjustment, but the team will work on those and we’ll see what happens.
Dalziel was happy with what the team had acheived on the opening day and admitted that while was tough with the changeable weather it was a good test for the race ahead.
“It was a good day. The weather was intermediate – dry into wet and wet into dry, which is something we’ll see in 24 hours. We learned a lot about the car. In the first practice, we were definitely close on the times and I think we missed it a little bit in qualifying trim. It was a combination of traffic and we changed the car a little. A lot of teams were out there getting a qualifying run in because it is probably going to rain tomorrow.”
Van Overbeek used the opportunity to gain his first dry running at Le Mans in the Ligier but admits that it is “a big learning experience”.
“The Ligier is comfortable to drive in the wet, but we need to get used to the visibility. It would be nice to have a dry race, but anything can happen. Whatever the weather does, it will be the same for everybody. The car looks great and is running great. We have a lot to do before the green flag on Saturday.”
Fogarty admits that he’s still learning the track but is happy with the progress made and added “We have a plan and I think it is the right one to get us where we need to be.”
Heinemeier Hansson added “The car is comfortable but it is too comfortable, so we have to get closer to something that’s a bit faster. We need to find a little more speed and get clean runs in. We didn’t get clean runs today and the time sheets don’t reflect what we’re able to do. We’re hoping to get some dry laps tomorrow and we’ll move up the sheets. This race is about longevity and speed.”