After earning a historic win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in Round 1 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Tequila Patrón ESM pulled off another impressive win tonight for Round 2 at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The team became the first team in 18 years to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the same season, with drivers Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Luís Felipe “Pipo” Derani.
After qualifying the No. 2 Ligier JS P2 Honda in 2nd position behind Olivier Pla, Derani congratulated his fellow countryman and remarked to Radio Le Mans that the race would not be won in the opening corner or the opening lap. He raced fast but conservatively throughout his first stint, keeping his lap times competitive in the top five positions.
Starting in the second hour of racing, the skies opened up and sporadic rain played a key factor throughout the event as teams down pit lane differed on wet or dry tire selection. After over two hours, Derani, Ed Brown and Scott Sharp had all taken their turns behind the wheel, combating varying weather conditions. Just before the three hour mark, IMSA Race Control red-flagged the race, calling all cars to pit lane and all drivers and participants to shelter. Pouring rain and bouts of lightening kept the race delayed for over two hours.
Sharp restarted in 7th position and quickly worked his way up to the front of the field. The track began to dry, but intermittent bursts of rain complicated strategy for each competitor’s tire selection. Sharp pitted in 4th and the team put Derani back on track, as the first prototype driver to switch back to slick tires. He rejoined in 8th, and the decision proved to be a smart one, as one full stint later, the rest of the field followed suit.
Derani worked his way up to 2nd, and Johannes van Overbeek took over to turn his first laps of the race, rejoining in 5th position. For over two hours, van Overbeek expertly kept the car in the main fight, never leaving the top five positions. He handed the car back to Derani in 4th with just over two hours to go.
The team made a short, fuel only pit stop with one hour and 15 minutes left on the clock, gaining two spots in pit lane as the rest of the field took full tanks and tires. In just two green laps, Derani took the lead from the 31 Corvette DP, with one hour remaining in the race.
With 36 minutes remaining, the 12th caution came out, and the four leading cars pitted. The No. 2 pitted from first place, took tires and fuel and rejoined in 4th place. Nerves were high in the final ten minutes as Derani methodically picked off the competitors one by one to pass the leading Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Dane Cameron for the lead with a lap and a half to go.
The win marks Tequila Patrón ESM’s second consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win, and the team also leads the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup points. Later this week, the team journeys to France for the World Endurance Championship Prologue before the WEC officially kicks off in April.
It’s just an amazing day. Honestly, this day was so tumultuous, so up and down with all the weather. It caused havoc for all of us. We all persevered though it all. The team made some great strategy calls. We rolled the dice. I have to take my hat off to the Oak guys. At the end, both Ed and I didn’t think we had a car that could win. I knew it was a top three car, but I didn’t think we were going to be able to do it. Coming out 4th, I thought 3rd was probably the best we were going to get here. Pipo showed us we had more pace in the car than we thought we did.
Man, what a day. The weather was crazy and we were really unsure of our car. But the team really pushed. It was crazy how the day changed. We went up and down and we sorted back. At that last yellow, I thought we’d get third, and that’s a good day’s work. Pipo drove the wheels off the car for the last 20 minutes. He’s amazing. The team was great, and so was the strategy that Oak called. We rolled the ball. Pipo was out there for an hour and a half on slicks when everybody else was on rains. He was running better laps than those guys. It’s pretty crazy. What a great way to start the year. It kind of spoils you because you win the first two biggest races in the US.
Johannes van Overbeek
Wow. The 36 Hours of Florida. ESM Patron has successfully won overall at both Daytona and Sebring. It was certainly our objective coming here, but so many things can happen. We had the red flag, crazy weather, but everything ran flawlessly. Thanks to Patron for allowing us to be here, and hats off to Pipo for driving one hell of a last stint.
What a tough race this was. Starting on the dry with a lot of sun, and suddenly a red flag because of a lot of rain. It was just too complicated and hard to believe we did it. We had some contact, some spins, and moving our way back to the front was just unbelievable. In the end, I knew we had a great car, and new tires. But with only 10 to 15 minutes to go and still be in 4th was difficult to believe that we were going to make it. God had an eye on me and everything I executed was perfect. I can’t believe it all. It happened like that. I was so focused to bring the car home. The adrenaline was so high I couldn’t think about anything else.