Following a late season move back to Dunlop tires, the Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2 Nissan found additional speed this weekend at the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Fuji. The No. 31 Ligier of Ryan Dalziel, Chris Cumming, and Pipo Derani earned another top five finish, despite early race troubles.
Ryan Dalziel started the race in eighth, quickly advancing his way up to sixth in the opening stint. The car showed competitive speed, running with the front pack of the LMP2 class. Chris Cumming took over at the 50 minute mark, rejoining in sixth. Cumming pitted with four hours remaining, handing the wheel back over to Dalziel. An unfortunate issue with the car’s belts arose early in the race, leading to a lengthy pit stop, and moving the team back down to eighth position. The team pressed on, laying down consistent lap times and using strategy to bring the No. 31 back up through the field. Pipo Derani took over to close the race out with a triple stint, gaining two positions in the final hours to bring the car home with a fifth place.
Next month, China will host the penultimate event of the 2016 calendar; the 6 Hours of Shanghai, November 6. Following the conclusion of the 2016 season, Tequila Patrón ESM will return full time to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two car effort with drivers to be announced at a later date.
It was a good strong race. We definitely had good pace. Realistically fourth or fifth is where we were at, and we learned a lot of stuff on the Dunlops. We just need to improve in a couple areas and we’ll be good. Overall, the team did a good job. It’s a shame not to be on the podium. We would have had a good shot at it, if we had a trouble free run. We’ll regroup and go onto China.
It was encouraging to be back on the pace again. If not for a few small mistakes, we could have challenged for a podium. I’m really looking forward to the last two races.
It was a tough race in the beginning for us. We had a few problems here and there. One being the belts, which had to be redone and lost us a lot of time. I got in the car for the final three stints and we showed great pace. I think we were the quickest car out there. It was unfortunate we had an issue in the beginning of the race. It was a tough race up until the middle. We had a great car. Everyone did an amazing job. I’d like to thank the whole team for the perfect work they did and the car they gave me today. Unfortunately we’re not on the podium, but we could have been there for sure with the car we had. We’ll take the positives to Shanghai.