To say we were going into Nürburgring excited would be an understatement. For the first time since taking delivery of our Ligier JS P2 cars, we had the opportunity to test, and at Nürburgring.
We tested late July after my first Spa 24 hour race (which was awesome) and we left the test really upbeat after consistently being one of the quickest cars over the two days.
Arriving back to Germany last week there was somewhat of a different bounce in the steps of the Tequila Patron crew. One of confidence, and rightly so, the organization and preparation is the best I’ve seen this year.
First practice started wet and dried towards the end but not enough to get a solid read on the cars balance. Nonetheless, we still felt we were in good shape.
Practice 2 was completely dry and I went out first. It wasn’t long before I realized we were not as good as the test, and in fact we were pretty bad as far as handling goes.
We found ourselves very much scratching our heads Friday night but as we started to dive deeper into our car set up we realized some numbers were not as they should have been.
In racing there is rarely one magic fix, it’s usually a combination of a little here, a little there, and you add up all those little fixes to make one bigger fix.
We felt fairly confident that we had found enough little issues that for Saturday morning we chose to go back to our starting setup, the one we felt was the best leaving the July test and have another go at it.
Unfortunately still we were off the pace. By this point heads were starting to go down a little and the frustrations of our lack of pace was starting to kick in.
It was pretty clear at this point we were struggling and so we went into race mode and rather than pushing for a qualifying spot we opted to save tires and try to have some fresher rubber than the competition for the 6 hour race.
Qualifying we made some small gains to the car but we still seemed to lack overall pace and top speed.
We went into the race confident we could move forward, knowing our average driver lap time would help us compared with couple other teams. Fourth place was very much a possibility however we got caught out early on going off sequence on pit strategy.
There was a yellow about 25 minutes into the race and we planned to stop under FCY and take a fuel only stop (to shorten our final stop of the race). Unfortunately many cars stopped and rejoined under FCY, but as we were pulling into our pit box they called back to green and so we found ourselves way back from the P2 field and almost a lap down in the first 30mins. Just bad luck!!
The remainder of the race was fairly uneventful. Both cars finished and with no mechanical issues. Not at all where we want to be but one thing I really admire about Scott Sharp and Tequila Patron ESM since joining them is, if its not working, we will fix it. And that’s exactly what we are doing today…
I can promise everyone that as a team we will turn this ship around and get us back on the podium. We know the Ligier is an extremely fast car and we will make it even faster.
Next up is Circuit of the Americas, Tequila Patron ESM’s home race and our only North American stop on the FIA WEC schedule. We are determined to turn things around and I don’t think there Is a better place. COTA is where we debut in WEC in 2014 and scored an excellent podium, we want to repeat that success.
I want to add one final thought. I have known Justin Wilson for a long time. I looked up to him not only when I was trying to pursue a career in Champ Car, but I really looked up to him earlier this season.
A guy that clearly should’ve been in a full time, front running IndyCar seat from race 1 of 2015, yet never did you hear him complain about that, not socially or privately.
It was amazing to see in Nurburgring WEC race alone the support this great guy had and we as a team were very proud to wear his decals on our helmets and race cars. #RIPBadAss