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Early Exit for Tequila Patron ESM at Rolex 24: Gains made with new HPD coupe

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Jan. 25, 2014 – Tequila Patrón ESM might have exited the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona earlier than expected, but the team is leaving with confidence in the new Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-04b coupes. Despite two DNFs on the official results, the team has more experience with the new cars that can be used as preparation for the next race at Sebring International Raceway in March.

The No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson started from the 16th position. Since the team did not participate in qualifying on Thursday, the IMSA rule book states the team must start at the end of the Prototype and Prototype Challenge categories. The No. 1 suffered an issue in the bell housing during Thursday’s morning practice that prevented it from participating in qualifying.

The No. 1 Tequila Patrón crew installed a new bell housing and engine early Friday morning just in time to turn laps in the final practice session. By the time the green flag dropped on Saturday morning, there were less than two hours of Daytona track time on the No. 1 race car.

Dalziel started the race and reached eighth position in 32 minutes. He ran for nearly two hours before a scheduled driver change to Sharp, as the No. 1 team double-stinted the early hours of the race. Sharp ran nearly two hours before turning the car over to Heinemeier Hansson in third position. Heinemeier Hansson kept the team running in the top-10, two laps behind the leaders.

Dalziel started his second stint in eighth place and two laps down. In an impressive triple stint late into Saturday, three caution periods and quick-thinking pit strategies enabled Dalziel to advance into the top-five. Dalziel pitted while in second place for Sharp to begin his second stint.

Sharp was shuffled back in the field during the pit stop. During his triple stint, two more caution periods and pit stop strategies allowed him to regain laps and track position, and be credited with leading one lap during the race. It marked the first time the HPD coupe led a race lap. Sharp kept his top-five run throughout the remainder of his stint.

Heinemeier Hansson started his second stint of the race shortly after 12:30 a.m., and ran a double. Near the halfway point of the race, Heinemeier Hansson spun in Turn 3 and made contact with the tire barrier, but was able to free himself from the barrier and rejoin the race. Following a quick caution, Heinemeier Hansson was behind a competitor car that checked-up on a restart. Heinemeier Hansson also checked-up, locked the tires and made contact with the wall. He drove to the garage for the team to replace the damaged nose. A driver change to Dalziel was made upon repair completion.

Dalziel returned to the race and several laps later reported to the crew there was an issue with the gearbox. Dalziel brought the No. 1 car to the garage and the team disassembled the race car and determined there was a problem with the transmission. The team attempted to repair the damaged gearbox, but upon further inspection, the team opted to retire from the race at 5 a.m. to prevent further damage to the car.

Despite the early retirement, the No. 1 Tequila Patrón team made considerable progress with the new HPD and ultimately led the race in the competition debut of the HPD coupe.

The race ended much sooner for the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD team of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty.

In the opening stint, van Overbeek advanced from the 12th starting position to sixth place. He pitted once for fuel and tires and then strategically pitted under caution for fuel. Approximately 40 minutes later, van Overbeek radioed the crew about oil pressure drops. He slowed on the track and was instructed by the crew to take the car to the garage.

The No. 2 crew diagnosed the issue as a systems failure that caused the race car to lose power and retired from the race after one hour and 43 minutes.

Although neither Tequila Patrón HPD completed the 24 Hours at Daytona, the team walks away from Daytona with a better understanding of the new racing machines.

Round 2 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and second race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup takes place during the 63rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway on March 18-21, 2015.


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