Tequila Patron ESM’s brutal season continued Friday morning at Road America when the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi driven by Pipo Derani caught fire exiting Canada Corner on the opening lap of practice.
The Brazilian drove to the top of the hill with flames trailing the Ligier JSP217-based prototype and pulled off on the right of the circuit prior to the final corner where the blaze grew. Derani jumped from the car and was unhurt in the fire, but significant damage to the right rear of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6-powered Nissan entry will require extensive work by the team in order to continue practicing for Sunday’s race.
“We believe it was some kind of fuel something, which would make sense with the speed that it went up,” ESM’s Ryan Dalziel said of the sister car. “But there’s so much damage now, we know there was a fuel pressure issue.”
Dalziel’s No. 2 Nissan experienced turbo boost and oil pressure irregularities during the session which required a few electronic sensors to be changed before it resumed practice. The ESM program has encountered a number of engine problems in 2018 as numerous failures led the team to reduce to a single entry for IMSA’s visit to Canada while spare motors were assembled by Nissan’s competition arm, NISMO.
And the ESM team wasn’t the only WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entrant to suffer misfortune in the first practice session. Bean Keating found the wall with the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, causing heavy suspension damage.
ESM and Riley Motorsports have four hours between sessions to affect repairs if they intend to get out before Saturday with the Nos. 22 and 33.