While the Nissan-powered ESM team is disappointed to not finish this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the team displayed an impressive pace that proved the bright green prototypes will again be a strong contender in 2018.
Both the No. 2 & No. 22 Nissan-powered prototypes were forced to charge from the back of the pack after a precautionary pre-session engine change for the No. 2 and a crash in qualifying for the No. 22 entry.
However once the green flag dropped, both were quickly on the move. The No. 2 of Ryan Dalziel moved from 20th to 10th before his first pit stop on lap 20. Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 22 car moved all the way up to third place after starting 18th. The No. 22 Nissan-powered entry led the race twice & both cars enjoyed extended runs in second place during the endurance classic. Lapierre also held the fastest lap of the race for more than five hours. His time of 1:37.570 on lap 59 was the second fastest lap of the race.
The progress of the Nissan-powered cars was hindered by tire issues also experienced by much of the prototype field. Both the No. 2 & No. 22 cars were forced to make unscheduled pit stops. The Rolex 24 turned out to be a race of attrition, there were only a few yellow flags, so the overall record for the race distance was obliterated.
The winning car completed 808 laps & 2,876.48 miles.
Of the 20 prototypes entered, only eight made it to the checkered flag without significant delays from mechanical issues or contact.
For the No. 2 of Dalziel, Scott Sharp and Olivier Pla, their race came to an end in the early morning at 3:00 a.m. when the car succumbed to gearbox failure. Then, before sunrise on lap 438, the No. 22 car of Lapierre, Pipo Derani and Johannes vanOverbeek was also forced out of the race with a turbo oil line leak.
Scott Sharp said :
“Wow. I feel horrible for the entire Tequila Patrón ESM team – for Patrón, Onroak, Nissan & of course all of the guys. Both cars really came alive during the race & we all felt if we could just stay out of trouble we could be contenders at the end. It’s such a shame“.
The team will now turn its attention to the Twelve Hours of Sebring scheduled for March 17.
Lapierre said :
“It was really hard to retire after such a team effort, we fought to come back after a few punctures & had the pace to fight for the win. From today, we will focus on the Twelve Hours of Sebring”.