This week, Tequila Patrón ESM will return to Daytona International Speedway in hopes of again clinching the overall victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The 2016 Rolex race winners bring with them strong momentum, as they ready to officially begin the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. In addition to closing out the 2017 season with the victory at Petit Le Mans, the team also clinched the victory two races earlier at Road America.
This time last year, the team just took delivery of the pair of brand new Nissan Onroak DPis, leaving the team a limited about of time to test the cars before the race began. The team worked tirelessly on the developmental program all season long, making strides race by race as the prototype machines climbed their way up the charts.
This season, the team brings a year of knowledge, data, and experience to the Rolex 24, the longest race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar. With full time drivers Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel in the No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi, and Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani in the No. 22 car, Tequila Patrón ESM is currently the only prototype team in the field to return with the same full time driver lineups from last season. Frenchmen Olivier Pla and Nicolas Lapierre will join the duos in the No. 2 and No. 22 respectively.
Earlier this month, the team took the cars on track at Daytona’s Roar Before the 24, allowing the team to test for eight hours over the course of three days. The test allowed the team to revisit the data from the year before, improving to dial in on the best set up configurations for the endurance event. Ironing out the typical pre-season kinks, the Florida-based team made the most of the test, spending every session on track in preparation for the longest race of the year.
Beginning Saturday, January 27, the Rolex 24 at Daytona will feature 24 straight hours of racing, challenging teams to find the best set ups for warm and cool conditions, often preparing for dry and wet conditions as well. The event is a test not only of speed, but endurance for drivers, cars, cars crews.
Scott Sharp | No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi
An amazing Rolex 24 is on store for this week! It will be a nail biting, aggressive sprint race over the course of 24 hours. Almost every Prototype car has great talent behind the wheel and a legitimate chance to win. Tequila Patrón ESM looks to carry our momentum from the close of the 2017 season into Daytona. The team has put huge effort in over the last few months and we are coming at this race much stronger than a year ago!
Ryan Dalziel | No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi
Daytona is our super bowl and winning it is one of the greatest accomplishments a team and driver can achieve. I’ve won it, as has Tequila Patrón ESM, and I’ve been on the podium multiple times. We know what it takes to succeed, but this year may be the toughest Rolex 24 for some time due to new teams, new cars, and many unknowns. We are confident in our reliability and believe we have the speed to succeed.
Olivier Pla | No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi
We are all super impatient for the Rolex 24! We worked hard in the Roar test to improve our car balance, but the conditions will be very different for the race with a warmer weather. The guys at Tequila Patrón ESM are working really hard for the final details before the race. The 24 Hours of Daytona are all about surviving until the last three hours of the race to make sure we are at the right place for the final hours with a good car to race hard at the end! I can’t wait.
Johannes van Overbeek | No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi
Coming off of the Roar Before the 24, it’s great to be back with Pipo Derani and I really enjoyed working with Nicolas LaPierre. After winning the last two out of three races at the end of last year, Tequila Patrón ESM is on a roll. We hope that the momentum continues for the Rolex 24. The key for Daytona is staying out of trouble and mastering all of the variables that we have control over. Everything else is up to the racing gods. Hopefully, one of our cars ends up on the top step at the end of 24 hours.
Pipo Derani | No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi
I’m happy to get our 2018 IMSA season started and it couldn’t be with a better race. Daytona is a very special and exciting race, and myself and Johannes are looking forward for a second overall victory. Nico LaPierre will also be with us in the No. 22 car and we are sure he will deliver as he usually does, so we give him a warm welcome to the 22 team! I really hope IMSA has nailed the balance of performance so that every competitor has a real chance of fighting for the win, making it down to the best team and drivers.
Nicolas La Pierre | No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi
Finally race week is starting. We had a good Roar and I had a really positive first contact with the team and I enjoyed driving the car. We know that the competition will be strong but I’m convinced that we have a package to fight for the win.
Source. KBru Communications