Yellow flags and balance issues hindered Extreme Speed Motorsport’s chances of a predicted podium finish at the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nürburgring, despite showing promise at the pre-race test.
The #30 and #31 Ligier JS P2s qualified two seconds off the LMP2 pace at the 3.119 mile Nürburgring GP circuit on Saturday, starting from the ninth and tenth rows of the 31 car grid. After six hours of running the #30 car finished sixth in class, two laps behind the winning KCMG Oreca, while the #31 entry completed the race in eighth position.
The #30 machine of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson looked set to benefit from an early yellow by coming in for an off-kilter pit stop, but the quick reversal back to green left the trio struggling for track position for the remainder of the six hour race.
The strategical mishap was only the start of the team’s worries, as balance issues and speed deficits plagued the two cars throughout the afternoon.
“Unfortunately from the moment we unloaded the trailer, we chased the balance of the cars,” reflected Sharp. “We also seemed to be down a bit on the straights. Factor in the high ambient temperatures and it was quite a handful to make the two ESM cars as competitive as we hoped.”
“However, the team persevered, the guys gave us great pit stops and we brought both cars home unscathed in sixth and eighth. We will learn from this weekend and go to Austin stronger.”
The #31 crew of Ed Brown, Jon Fogarty and Johannes van Overbeek endured similar challenges throughout the weekend, and was only able to achieve a competitive pace as the race progressed.
“The Nürburgring is a great track and we thought we were ready for our first podium finish this year, but we were just a little off on the setup,” said van Overbeek. “Ed and Jon drove great races – we just wish we had a better showing. My hat is off to the Tequila Patrón ESM crew; they worked hard to get us ready and were non-stop throughout the weekend. We had great pit stops and driver changes, we just wish we could have finished better than eighth.”
Brown echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, but also believes that the team will be able to bounce back when the FIA WEC returns to Austin in mid September.
“We were confident heading into this race since the test was successful,” he said. “We’re not sure what changed from the test to the race because we struggled with setup all weekend.”
“We learned a lot this weekend and we’ll take that with us to the Circuit of the Americas. We’re looking forward to heading back to the United States, competing at Austin and returning to the podium.”
The result keeps the #31 crew fourth in the LMP2 teams’ standings, while the #30 entry is sixth heading to the fifth round at Austin, which takes place on September 19.