Following the checkered flag on Saturday night at the 19th Annual Petit Le Mans, Tequila Patrón ESM concluded their 2016 run in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team made a final race effort in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, the endurance championship within the championship. Although the team did not win the cup honors, the trio of Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani earned a second place finish after a late race charge through the Prototype class.
The No. 2 Honda Ligier struggled with setup in practice and qualifying, starting the race in seventh position. The team found speed throughout the race, using pit strategy and cautions to move van Overbeek and Sharp up through the field. As Pipo Derani raced for second position, contact with another car sent him spinning off course. Derani avoided any further contact and rejoined in seventh. With six hours to go, No. 2 quickly earned back two more positions before settling into fifth place. As night descended on the track, attrition started to become a factor, and the lack of fortune for other teams proved to be beneficial for Tequila Patrón ESM.
With two and a half hours remaining on the clock, Sharp passed the wheel onto Derani in fifth, and the team gave Derani the green light to make his charge through the field. In the final 50 minutes, Derani had advanced to race for third, and moments later, he took second position. A full course caution came out in the final 20 minutes, allowing the No. 2 to make a final run for first position. With GTD traffic separating Derani from the leader, the top P car pulled away, resulting in a second place finish for Tequila Patrón ESM.
The second place finish earned Tequila Patrón ESM their third podium in four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races, but was not enough to secure the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup title. The team has announced its full season return to the WeatherTech series for 2017, joining with Nissan Nismo for a technical partnership. The 2017 season will commence January 26th in Daytona, Florida for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
I got out of my last stint, which was a great stint. We were still a ways away from everybody and I went and changed, and put my jeans on. I thought that was going to be it. We were fifth or sixth at the time, and we could maybe get to fourth. Pipo did a great job and made some strong moves. Other people made some mistakes, and here we are, second place. Great finish for a lot of hard work from the team. Congratulations to Action Express for winning the championship and the North American Endurance Cup Championship.
Johannes van Overbeek
It’s a fantastic result. I’m definitely disappointed for the team that we didn’t get the TPNAEC championship. As usual, Pipo did a great job closing. We struggled with the car and some issues, but we persevered, and second place is a fantastic result.
What a tough race. We were never between the top five the whole race. To be able to finish 2nd is a great achievement this weekend. We started the weekend later than everyone else. We had a few problems in the first couple practices and being able to finish 1-2 for Ligier is the best that it could have been. Obviously, I wanted to win this one. The restart was really close. I had GTs between me and Oli [Pla], he was able to build a gap. It’s still great. We fought hard for the NAEC. It’s great to be here finishing the season at Petit Le Man, with a great track, and a great team. It’s awesome. I was no one before being with Patrón. They gave me a huge chance to be someone. We came here and achieved great wins together. Every single race we’ve been through, we get closer and closer. I can’t wait to continue the job with them for the remaining races of the season.
I’m proud of the team. They really dug hard. We didn’t have the car, but the team did really well. The drivers did unbelievable. I’m really disappointed in a partner that I’ve been working with for ten years, and that’s HPD. I felt like for the sister car to be able to run two degrees more wing and have four miles an hour on us, it probably wasn’t the right thing to do. I think it was payback for us moving to Nissan for next year. In fairness, we’ve been a good partner. We milked their 04B, which was a horrible car. We did a lot of things for them over the years. For them to treat us that was disappointing. But we still got second, and we showed them that even with them playing the games, we are still pretty fast.