Engine issues hamper Patron ESM’s quest for U.S. three-peat

Photo: Tequila Patron ESM
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Tequila Patron ESM returned to the U.S. shores with a vengeance and a winning streak on the line in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, but unfortunately an old gremlin returned.

Engine issues took the No. 2 Ligier JS P2 Honda – the same chassis that won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with ESM and then finished 14th overall, ninth in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Michael Shank Racing – out of contention in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

It was a shame after the team overcame both power steering and seat belt issues earlier in the race. Johannes van Overbeek also delivered the overall pole at 1:35.207, a new track record at Watkins Glen International.

Honda still banked a key podium though with the trio of Ozz Negri, John Pew and Olivier Pla third overall in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda – and with a clear pace advantage on the Corvette DPs which ultimately ended up first and second.

Alas, with necessary points banked for the Patron Endurance Cup at the halfway point of the six-hour race, ESM remains in contention for that title before Petit Le Mans in October, both the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Patron Endurance Cup season finale.

“What a great team effort after the issue we had with our power steering,” Derani said in the team’s release. “We were so lucky to be able to fix it during the full course yellow. We were back in the fight, and unfortunately something happened with our engine. We don’t know exactly what yet. When I jumped out, there was a lot of oil. It’s just a shame. The car was really good and we had a real shot of victory at this one. But we’ll bounce back.”

The team has several FIA World Endurance Championship races in the interim at the Nürburgring (July 24), then Mexico City and Circuit of The Americas (Sept. 3 and 17), before their next IMSA appearance later this year.