Image Credit: Tequila Patrón ESM
Less than six weeks ago, Tequila Patrón ESM announced it would transition to the Onroak Automotive Ligier JS P2 prototype machines. This weekend the Florida-based team will compete in its first race with the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Ligier JS P2 prototypes at the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Outfitted with the latest in sportscar technology, Tequila Patrón ESM will be in the thick of the LMP2 battle with two identically equipped Ligier JS P2 prototypes, powered by Honda HR28TT V6 engines. A bright spot on the grid, the Tequila Patrón ESM Ligiers are livered with contrasting black and striking Patrón green featuring the signature Tequila Patrón bottles and trademark Patrón bee. To distinguish the two machines from each other, the No. 30 will feature black mirrors and the No. 31 will have Patrón green mirrors.
Following a brief shakedown on Monday at Magny-Cours, Tequila Patrón ESM heads to eastern Belgium for the second round of the eight-race WEC season. Situated in the picturesque region of the Ardennes, the 20-turn, 4.352-mile (7.004-kilometer) circuit is another new venue for the only American team fielding season-long two LMP2 entries in WEC.
Before the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone, Tequila Patrón ESM drivers Scott Sharp, Ed Brown and 2012 WEC LMP2 champion Ryan Dalziel made a short trip to Spa to run a few laps to familiarize themselves with the circuit. The trio logged laps in Radical Sportscars to get a sense of the fast, hilly and winding corridors of the historical track.
Competition continues to be fierce in the LMP2 category. Often classified as the precursor to the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps sees higher car counts. For this round of competition, there are 10 LMP2 cars listed on the entry list, two more than Silverstone, for a total of 34 cars on the grid.
Two of Spa’s infamous and high-speed sections include the Eau Rouge (Turns 3, 4, 5) and Blanchimont (Turn 17). Eau Rouge is a fast left-right-left, high-downforce chicane that crests into a blind uphill section of the track. Mastering this section sets the driver up for the long Kemmel Straight, an ideal passing zone. Blanchimont is a high-speed left-handed kink ahead of the final chicane before pit straight. Mastering these two challenging sections of the circuit will be key in setting a solid qualifying lap and optimal locations for passing during the race.
Sharp, Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-drivers of the No. 30 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier, enter Spa-Francorchamps determined to continue the WEC podium finishes set in 2014, a third-place finish at the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas and then a runner-up finish during the 6 Hours of Shanghai. The trio proved to be quick at Silverstone and ran a consistent pace.
Johannes van Overbeek returns to co-drive the No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier with Ed Brown and Jon Fogarty. Van Overbeek was sidelined for the 6 Hours of Silverstone due to a non-racing related rib injury, but returns to the No. 31 team and the all-new Ligier with determination. On the first weekend in May 2014, Brown and van Overbeek earned their first overall pole position and win during the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The duo will channel that energy into every lap this week at Spa.