Despite a record setting run heading into the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, Tequila Patrón ESM’s race winning hopes fell short in the final two hours, when a mechanical issue left the car motionless on track, resulting in a DNF result.
Following dominating wins in the first two rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, Tequila Patrón ESM returned to compete in the United States this weekend at the Six Hours of the Glen in Watkins Glen, New York. The event marked the third round in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, the four-race endurance championship within the ten race championship. Points for the championship are distributed based on where competitors stand at specific intervals during each race.
The team had only planned on running the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring, but after winning both events, Tequila Patrón ESM found themselves tied for the TPNAEC championship with Action Express Racing. With a solid shot at winning, the team made the decision to run the rest of the four races, reworking the logistics to add the Six Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans to the team’s schedule.
After three strong practice sessions, Johannes van Overbeek qualified the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda Ligier at the top of the field, securing the team’s first pole position in the 2016 season. His lap time of 1:35.207 also set a new track record on the freshly paved circuit. The car’s stellar performance carried over to the race, as Overbeek lead the field to green and immediately pulled away from the 55 Mazda in second. The gap extended to six seconds before the first full course caution, which brought the No. 2 in for its first pit stop. Overbeek let the clutch out during the stop, stalling the car, but he quickly restarted the car and rejoined the field in seventh. Wasting no time, he worked his way up to fifth to engage in a three way battle for fourth, fifth and sixth with Eric Curran and Tristan Nunez.
Overbeek completed his double stint in fifth, stepping out to let Pipo Derani take over. With just over four hours remaining in the race, Derani rejoined the field in sixth, quickly passing the No. 10 of Max Angelelli to take 5th. Less than an hour later, Derani worked his way up to second, chasing TPNAEC points contender Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Corvette. With points for the championship waiting to be awarded at the halfway point, the team gave Derani the order to push, and he made the pass with one minute to spare. At the three hour mark, five points were awarded to Tequila Patrón ESM and the three drivers for the TPNAEC, giving them a one point lead. Derani gained a three second gap, and pitted from first to have Scott Sharp turn his first laps of the race.
Nothing in racing comes easy, and the team suffered a setback when they had trouble with the seatbelts during the driver change. Not deterred, Sharp rejoined in 6th with just under three hours to make it back to the front. After a just a few laps, Sharp informed the team the car was becoming increasingly difficult to drive, suspecting a power steering issue. A full course caution came out in the nick of time, allowing the team to pit Scott in for a pit and fix the issue while remaining on the lead lap. Scott rejoined in seventh and pitted again shortly after while still under caution to take fuel and make another quick adjustment to the car. The No. 2 rejoined in seventh, restarting with the field as one of the fastest Prototype cars in the field. Power steering issue fixed, he flew through the field, working his way up to third before Pipo Derani took over with 90 minutes remaining.
Derani rejoined in sixth, but a spin from one of the leaders moved him back into the top five. The spin resulted in a full course yellow, and on the restart, Derani passed Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Corvette DP. He moved up to the 55 Mazda to make a fight for third place when disaster hit. The engine of the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier gave out with just over an hour to go, paralyzing the car on track, ending the day in heartbreak.
Despite the disappointing finish, the team remains in the fight for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, just two points away from Action Express Racing. Petit Le Mans will be the race to decide the championship, taking place September 28 to October 1 at Road Atlanta. In the meantime, the team will continue its efforts in the FIA World Endurance Championship, currently sitting fourth in the championship with two podium finishes in three races. For more information, visit imsa.com and fiawec.com.
I’m extremely unhappy for the entire Tequila Patrón ESM team. It was a great weekend. The guys did a fabulous job. We had ups and downs during the race. We wanted to lead the field at the halfway mark, and the team did a fantastic job with the strategy. Pipo did an unbelievable job pushing his way to the front. We had a power steering problem, which we rebounded from. Luckily, we got the yellows and we were in a good position to make a charge at the end, but no. We’ll be back at Petit Le Mans.
Johannes van Overbeek
It’s a shame to end our day like this. The car was so strong everyone did a great job. We had lots of little issues, but everyone recovered really well and we worked through them. With an hour and 20 minutes to go and Pipo in the car, we were looking strong. Unfortunately, the engine had other ideas. On to Atlanta.
What a great team effort after the issue we had with our power steering. We were so lucky to be able to fix it during the full course yellow. We were back in the fight, and unfortunately something happened with our engine. We don’t know exactly what yet. When I jumped out, there was a lot of oil. It’s just a shame. The car was really good and we had a real shot of victory at this one. But we’ll bounce back. It felt good to lead at the halfway point. When I was in the car, I thought the three hour mark had already passed when I was behind the No. 5 Action Express car. Then they said I could try and overtake, I did, then got out of the car to see we got it at the halfway mark. It was very satisfying. We’ll take that good point from the weekend and bounce back at Petit Le Mans.