• HPD ARX-03b Hondas sweep front row in qualifying
• Pit strategies, spin, late fuel stopsdetermine outcome
A promising start for Honda Performance Development and the Extreme Speed Motorsports squad – leading practice and sweeping the front row in qualifying on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – failed to deliver the desired results Friday evening at the Brickyard Grand Prix, eighth round of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
After starting from first and second, the HPD ARX-03b Hondas of Scott Sharp/Ryan Dalziel and Ed Brown/Johannes van Overbeek ran strongly throughout the opening stint of the two-hour, 45-minute contest, which was punctuated by a trio of cautions, including a long, 30-minute yellow to repair damaged curbing on the circuit.
The cautions provided an opportunity for the leading, and eventual race-winning,Action Express Racing team of Christian Fittipaldi/Joao Barbosa to stretch its fuel mileage and complete the race by making just two pit stops, while most of the prototype field – including both HPD Hondas, needed to make a brief third and final stop in the final 10 laps.
Just past the 90-minute mark of the race, while battling Scott Pruett for second, the #1 HPD Honda of Dalziel spun in the first turn as the pair of prototypes was working its way through lapped GT-class traffic. Dalziel quickly recovered without damage, but lost two positions as a result and resumed in fifth place. Dalziel continued to run quickly, turning the fastest lap times of the race to move into fourth place with 20 minutes remaining, but droppedto fifth at the finish after the final flourish of late-race pit stops.Late in the race, the ESM team gambled with the #2 HPD Honda, attempting to complete the race without a third pit stop. But when the race ran caution-free in the final hour, van Overbeek was forced to pit with just two laps remaining, dropping from second to seventh at the checkers.
Allen Miller (Project Leader, Sports Cars, Honda Performance Development) on this evening’s race:“In the end, it all came down to the time of everyone’s fuel stops, and we came up just a bit short, needing that final splash of fuel for both Extreme Speed HPD Hondas. Our cars were very fast this weekend, as demonstrated when we swept the front row in qualifying. I believe Ryan [Dalziel] also turned the fastest race lap. It was a good rebound for everyone after our disappointing results at Watkins Glen and Mosport. Both cars finished well, just not as high as we would have liked. Now it’s on to Road America, a circuit where HPD has had a great deal of success in the past.”
Ryan Dalziel (#1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda): “We were faster than the leaders, but it was impossible to overtake them. It was a very frustrating race. I had to take too many risks [in traffic] to keep up with the leaders, and it caught me out. We run the same top speed as the GT cars, so we have to take risks under braking to pass them. I feel bad for the team. This makes for a couple of races now where we’ve qualified well and thought we had the car to beat. But when it comes to race pace, the DPs [Daytona Prototypes] definitely manage to stretch their fuel and run better in traffic. It is a hard one to take today, but we’ll regroup and go on to Road America.”