For more than 50 years, the Daytona International Speedway has been home to the premier motorsports endurance race in North America. The “24 Hours of Daytona,” now known as “Rolex 24,” kicked off the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season last weekend. Along with the “24 Hours of Le Mans,” which takes place in France in June, Rolex 24 is one of two world-renowned 24-hour automobile races.
The grueling round-the-clock competition involves numerous driver changes and tests the limits and durability of each team’s equipment and crew. Last year Ed Brown’s Patron ESM car, featuring drivers Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani, emerged victorious, covering a distance of 2,620.16 miles over the 24-hour period.
Patron ESM had two entries in this year’s field at Rolex 24, a pair of Nissan Onroak DPis. Driving the No. 2 car were Sharp, Derani and Ryan Dalziel, while in the No. 22 were Brown, van Overbeek, Bruno Senna and Brendon Hartley.
The race began Saturday at 2 pm. The day before, the Patron ESM team practiced their driver changes:
Driver change practice for defending #Rolex24 @DISupdates champs @PatronESM…in and out in less than 30Sec ???? pic.twitter.com/PtK8lqMU5u
— Katie Hargitt (@katiehargitt) January 27, 2017
A WHOOP logo is clearly visible on the car. The team seemed in good spirits heading into the competition, as Brown and Derani engaged in a light armwrestling battle (notice the Strap on Pipo’s right arm):
.@PipoDerani vs @patronracing. Maybe next time, Pipo. pic.twitter.com/K8Bk9reeWF
— Tequila Patrón ESM (@PatronESM) January 27, 2017
The morning of the race, Dalziel tweeted out the drivers’ WHOOP Strains that day:
Let the games begin. Wonder what @PatronESM driver will have the highest numbers on @whoop by 2.30pm Sunday??? @NISMO #Rolex24 #Wagers pic.twitter.com/vYGvYBM2rp
— Ryan Dalziel (@ryan_dalziel) January 28, 2017
Hartley and Dalziel took the wheel first, starting in the fifth and sixth positions respectively. Eight hours into the race, Senna brought the No. 22 car up to second place.
Fuel and tires for the #22. @BrendonHartley stays in. pic.twitter.com/tq87Q4BukS
— Tequila Patrón ESM (@PatronESM) January 28, 2017
After 272 laps (roughly nine hours in), Hartley and the No. 22 took the lead. However, at 12:26 am, in the midst of heavy rain, Hartley’s vehicle made contact with another car and was forced to the garage for repairs:
The No. 22 car was eventually able to return, but finished a disappointing 17th.
By the early morning hours on Sunday, the harsh conditions of the race had started to take their toll on the drivers and crew:
Sleep well friends. @PatronESM #Rolex24 @Rolex24Hours pic.twitter.com/H6o96jgu0E
— Peter Leung (@BaronVonClutch) January 29, 2017
At 2 pm that afternoon, the race concluded with the No. 2 car in 4th place, having completed 656 laps on the 3.56-mile Daytona track.
What a fantastic debut for the @NISMO DPi. Cars are 1 month old and we finished 4th at #Rolex24. Couldn’t be prouder of my @PatronESM crew. pic.twitter.com/leV0P4F4Oa
— Ryan Dalziel (@ryan_dalziel) January 29, 2017
Look to spot WHOOP again when the Patron ESM team competes in the next leg of the North American Endurance Cup at the 12 Hours of Sebring in mid March.