The Roar Before the Rolex 24, a three-day test at Daytona International Speedway, marked the public debut of the all-new Honda Performance Development ARX-04b (HPD) coupe in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The team plans to run a pair of cars in the four Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup races, beginning with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 24-25.
With the team hard at work finishing up the newly delivered No. 1 car, Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Ryan Dalziel, Jon Fogarty and David Heinemeier Hansson shared driving duties of the carbon fiber black No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD coupe.
“We were pretty happy with the test,” Sharp said. “We made some progress. We’re still in the beginning stages learning more about the new coupe, and we finally got the car together so we could start working on the setup. It was a productive test and we were slowly climbing our way up the speed charts a little bit, but we also had six drivers sharing one car, and had to balance that, getting everyone enough seat time to get comfortable for the race.”
The first HPD coupe was delivered to Tequila Patrón ESM in December. Since then, the Florida-based team worked non-stop to ensure the racing machine was ready to go for the first test session of 2015. While the team was in Daytona this weekend, the second coupe, the No. 1 Tequila Patrón machine, was delivered. Splitting the team between on-track action and vehicle build in the paddock, Tequila Patrón ESM still made tremendous gains with both cars.
The team’s performance improved with each test session, and made considerable progress in getting a feel for the new race car. Light rain during Sunday morning’s session gave the team the option to run several laps in the rain and test the ARX-04b’s wet weather systems and capabilities.
“We took the Tequila Patrón ESM HPD coupe out on Sunday and waited until it rained, which is not usually the case,” van Overbeek said. “The car had never been in wet weather before, so we just did a few runs to see if there were any leaks, if it fogged and how the mirrors reacted in those conditions. We learned a lot in a few laps and achieved our objective. I drove in the dry and wet and the new coupe is great. I feel like I’m learning more about the car and what it likes. It is going to be a great car once we have everything sorted out.
“The coupe feels more refined than last year’s car,” van Overbeek added. “The faster you go the quieter and more stable this car is and that speaks to the aerodynamic work that Wirth Research has done on the design. It feels stable and great to drive. I’m really looking forward to this season in the new coupe.”
Before Tequila Patrón ESM returns to Daytona, the team will focus on the next major steps in preparation for the upcoming endurance race, including data review from the Roar, making appropriate changes to the No. 2 coupe, completing the No. 1 coupe and finishing the livery on both cars.
Following the Rolex 24, the Tequila Patrón ESM team will compete in the remaining Patrón Endurance Cup races, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida at Sebring International Raceway, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International and Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta.