On Tuesday, Tequila Patron ESM (also known as Extreme Speed Motorsports) announced that they will be returning to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on a full-time basis in the 2017 season. They will be competing in the new DPi (Daytona Prototype International) class with two Ligier JS P217 chassis with special bodywork and Nissan engines. It is the first DPi chassis announcement ahead of the January debut of the class at Daytona.
Team owner Scott Sharp is quite excited about the move back to domestic-based racing.
“Tequila Patrón ESM has had an incredible experience over the last 24 months going to some amazing race tracks, but we are very excited to return to the IMSA WeatherTech Championship,” team owner/driver Sharp said in the team’s press release. “When we add in Ligier, who have been our incredible partners, with their new Prototype DPi chassis and Nissan NISMO as powertrain partner we have nothing but high expectations for 2017!”
For the past two seasons, Tequila Patron ESM has been racing full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), first with the open-cockpit HPD ARX-03b’s, then with the current Ligier JS P2-Nissans.
The team has competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship part-time over the past couple of years while racing full-time in the WEC. This year, the team won both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on the strength of youngster Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani.
The deal with Nissan is described in the release as a multi-year partnership. Nissan will be providing ~600 horsepower engines to Tequila Patron ESM’s effort. Per DPi rules, most DPi engines will be out of GT3 cars. In this case, Nissan’s engine is a twin-turbo V6 out of the NISMO GT-R GT3. While the car does not currently compete in IMSA, it is a successful car in Pirelli World Challenge, the Blancpain GT Sprint/Endurance Series in Europe and in Australia. It is unclear whether Nissan will design their own bodywork for the Ligier JS P217 as required for DPi by IMSA, or if the team will design their own bodywork for the car.
In preparation for the move back towards racing in the United States, the team also announced a completely new driver lineup for the final three races of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Team owner Sharp, Patron CEO Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek are out of the No. 30. They will be replaced by GP2 regular Antonio Giovanazzi and Sean Gelael, who are both sponsored by JAGONYA AYAM, the Indonesian branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Giovanazzi and Gelael will be joined in the car by ELMS regular and former F1 racer Giedo van der Garde.
Tequila Patron ESM will still provide engineering and the crew for the No. 30 for the rest of the season. JAGONYA AYAM will cover the rest of the effort. The new No. 30 team will debut at the 6 Hours of Fuji on Oct. 16.
JAGONYA AYAM’s red and yellow colors will replace the black and neon green of Patron Tequila on the No. 30 for the remainder of the year. The No. 31 entry of Derani, Chris Cumming and Ryan Dalziel will remain as is. Derani, Cumming and Dalziel currently sit in a joint fourth in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers with second-place finishes at Silverstone and Spa-Francochamps as their best finishes of the year.
Ahead of their full-time participation in IMSA next season, Tequila Patron ESM will compete in next week’s Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Resort Casino at Road Atlanta in Georgia with their Honda-powered Ligier JS P2. This is the car the team won Daytona and Sebring with earlier this season. Michael Shank Racing raced it at Le Mans with the lineup of Oswaldo Negri, Jr., John Pew and Laurens Vanthoor to a ninth-place finish in class (14th overall).
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