WATKINS GLEN, NY – June 29, 2014 – After a promising warmup session this morning for Extreme Speed Motorsports with the fastest times posted, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen race was filled with heartbreak and disappointment. Despite a competitive effort by the Nos. 1 and 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development teams, any hopes of solid finishes today at Watkins Glen International were dashed by a combination of contact from an overzealous competitor, electrical and mechanical issues.
After six hours of hard TUDOR United SportsCar Championship racing, the ESM team finished in 10th and 11th places.
ESM team co-owner Scott Sharp started the race for the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD team from the fifth position in the Prototype class. He dropped to seventh in the opening lap shuffle and found a solid and consistent pace for his opening stint. Bad luck hit within the first hour, when Sharp pitted for fuel on Lap 26, he was charged with a pit lane speeding penalty. He served a drive-through penalty on Lap 29 and found himself in the midst of traffic in the form of the GT Daytona (GTD) class, the slowest class among the four competing today.
Shortly after returning to the field, Sharp was hit by an overly aggressive GTD car in the left rear. Sharp was forced to pit on Lap 34 for the team to inspect the prototype and find a broken brake duct. The team removed the damaged piece, assessed the rest of the damage and repaired what they could before sending Sharp back on track. While in the pits, he went a lap down on the field and dropped to 10th place.
Sharp improved his position and reached the sixth place by Lap 60, just in time for the first caution flag of the race. On Lap 62, Sharp pitted and Ryan Dalziel took over for his first stint.
Dalziel fought traffic but was able to move into the fifth position by Lap 75. He continued on his fifth-place run, worked to catch the leaders, hoped to catch a yellow flag and ultimately regain a spot on the lead lap. Without a yellow, Dalziel then pitted for a scheduled stop and driver change.
Sharp returned to the No. 1 machine at Lap 93 for his second stint. As a result of the hit earlier, the No. 1 machine was forced to change tires on each pit stop because of the left rear and possible domino-effect damage. Normally a tire change would be beneficial, but the longer they could run on the tire, the quicker the lap times. Sharp pitted for tires and fuel on Lap 121 and maintained his sixth-place run before the final driver change to Dalziel on Lap 148.
After serving a second drive through penalty for pit lane speeding charged to the No. 1 team, Dalziel kept a sixth-place run. Dalziel pitted again on Lap 156 after experiencing some mechanical issues. The team disassembled and inspected the rear end on pit road since the race car wasn’t shifting or performing as expected. The team diagnosed the problem as a gear selection issue. The gearbox was replaced and Dalziel returned to the field on Lap 177, losing nearly 38 minutes during the repair.
Dalziel completed his stint and race in the 10th position.
Ed Brown, co-driver of the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b (HPD) started from the seventh position and dropped to 13th in the opening race shuffle. He improved him position to 10th place by Lap 25.
Brown pitted on Lap 27 for the scheduled stop and driver change to Johannes van Overbeek. While entering the pit, Brown was charged with speeding and van Overbeek would serve the drive through penalty on Lap 30.
Van Overbeek began his charge to the front and reached eighth position by Lap 35, then sixth place by Lap 62. On Lap 67, the No. 2 machine stopped in Turn 9 with no power and Van Overbeek had to patiently wait for a tow back to pit lane. While in the pit, the car was not reacting to any command as the team diagnosed the issue and the engine control unit (ECU) was replaced. IMSA officials sent the No. 2 car and crew back to the ESM paddock to complete the repair at Lap 76.
The No. 2 machine was repaired and van Overbeek drove it from the paddock to the pits at Lap 94, nearly 30 laps behind the leaders and 11th in class. Once back in the pits, the team called for a driver change to Anthony Lazzaro.
Lazzaro ran a clean stint from the 1th position until the driver change back to Brown on Lap 152. Brown completed the race for the No. 2 team for the last 40 laps. The No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD team finished in 11th position.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen was the third round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. The Tequila Patrón-sponsored championship within a championship includes the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the season finale Petit Le Mans. Watch as Ed Brown and Scott Sharp talk about the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance here.
Next up for Extreme Speed Motorsports is the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, on July 11-13.
“This was definitely not the race we expected here at Watkins Glen today. There was a little bit of shuffling around at the beginning but that’s to be expected. We were running well and improving lap times and that GTD car hit me. The team did a great job fixing what we were able to fix, but unfortunately to suffer damage that early and where we were hit, it hurt us for the rest of the race.
“Having to change tires was not part of strategy at every stop. It wasn’t just the fact we had to change tires; we lost the whole brake duct for the left rear. The left rear brake was getting hot, heating up the tire, heating up the rim and we were really hard on the left rear tire when that tire should have been good for at least two or three stints on our car. A lot of our strategy went out the window at that point. We lost a lot of performance on the back left side of the car and we really struggled in the fast corners turning right. We might have had a little too much toe-in, which created drag on the tire in a straight line and without that brake duct, everything was heating up. It was one of those things that lead to another and it snowballs.
“It is a shame that both cars had issues today because this was a race where we thought we could challenge for the win. It was a great effort by the entire ESM/Tequila Patrón team. Both crews had cars to repair and get us back on track. We did everything we could to compete here, but it just wasn’t our day.”
“It is unfortunate that we had some electrical gremlins with us this weekend. The car ran the last couple of hours without a problem. The crew did a great job as usual.
“The first stint was physically harder, even though that second stint was much longer. The first stint was the start of the race, everything was crazy and I never really got a break because I was in the mix and fighting with cars. Then in the second stint, I was getting tired. The caution came out and I was able to catch my breath for a while.
“I had a lot of seat time this weekend and the cars were fast. Our cars are good out of traffic. In traffic it is harder to keep up with the DPs, but the series is trying to get it as balanced as they can and we’ll see what happens at Mosport.
“We have the best team in the paddock. We’ll just keep fighting for position, wins and points. We got points today and that’s what we want and need to do. That was our biggest concern when the car stopped running, would we be able to get back out and get points.”
“We’ve had pace all weekend. The No. 1 ESM Tequila Patrón HPD car has been fast. We looked for good things today. With 56 cars on track, there are going to be incidents and unfortunately we got hit in Scott’s first stint. To be honest, the damage was enough that I don’t think if we got our laps back, we were never going to have the pace to win the race. Sometimes it goes that way and that’s multi-class racing. It is a shame.
“We say that we’ve got to capitalize on the weekends that we feel very strong about and this was one of the weekends. We felt confident that our HPD package was going to be good here. Plus today was part of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup and we wanted to get the Tequila Patrón cars on the podium. ESM is strong and we never give up; we’ll regroup and go on to the next one.
“I think the issue I had probably had something to do with the hit that Scott took. That did body damage, hit the rear suspension and we think probably started to weaken something in the driveshaft and gearbox. We ended up having to replace the whole rear end. The guys did a nice job. It is one of those things where once you start weakening parts, then you get a hit a couple of times, things can kind of unravel.
“We are leaving here with two cars that are relatively unscathed. We learned a lot and will take it to Mosport and Indy.”
Johannes van Overbeek
“We were doing laps out there and I was having trouble – the car was really loose and hard to manage. We came in at the end of our fuel run and put on another set of tires and the car was awesome. I only did two laps, came back in and there was the yellow. We had a misfire, some sort of short.
“Ed ran a great race; it was good experience and practice for him. He learned a lot more about traffic and going out on cold tires. He did a great job, as usual, and he keeps getting better. Anthony did a terrific job stepping in and not having driven this car for a while, did an awesome job.”
“Now, we have to pick up, figure out what went wrong and make it better next time.”
“I didn’t have a lot of time in practice because we didn’t have much practice time this weekend. The guys made changes to the car and it was really comfortable and we were able to pretty quick with it. I was happy with my stint. It is a shame that we were so many laps down because it was a decent race car.
“In the practice sessions, the rear of the car was a bit nervous but they made changes to it from the warmup to the race and all was good. The car had some understeer and to go faster now, you’d need more front grip but it was just where I needed it to be.
“When you’re that many laps down, you don’t want to get involved in other people’s races, so I stayed out of the way the best I could. I did the best laps I could run to help the No. 2 team, Ed and Johannes.”