On Monday morning, Tequila Patron ESM announced the seven drivers who will drive the team’s two Nissan DPi entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Like many teams, their lineup is mainly composed of returning drivers.
The No. 2 entry, which is the defending champion of both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, will return half of the winning driver lineup. Team owner Scott Sharp will share the car full-time with Ryan Dalziel. Here in the United States, such a move would constitute a driver change. Last year, Dalziel drove the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP full-time in IMSA. However, Dalziel also raced full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for Tequila Patron ESM as well. As a result, the two racers are already used to racing together.
Dalziel and Sharp will be joined for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races by Pipo Derani, whose career took off in 2016 as a result of his drives in Daytona and Sebring. Derani drove for Tequila Patron ESM full-time in the WEC this year and finished fourth in the championship with teammates Dalziel and Chris Cumming. After the season, Derani earned the opportunity to test LMP1 chassis at Bahrain International Circuit during the WEC Rookie Test. According to the WEC, Derani was quick and consistent in the Toyota TS050.
Sharp is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“All of Patrón Tequila Patrón ESM is pumped to be back a part of the IMSA Weathertech Series!,” Sharp said in a press release. “The new DPi formula is quickly gaining attention and large expectations! We are excited to take our new 2017 Ligier-Nissan to battle. We have an incredible mix of drivers for 2017! I think it is an outstanding group. Johannes [van Overbeek] and Ed [Brown] are back for their eighth year with ESM in car No. 22! They will be joined in the endurance races by Bruno Senna and Brendon Hartley, two fabulously quick guys! Ryan Dalziel will be back with myself for the season in the No. 2 car! I can’t say enough good things about Ryan! We are great teammates and poised for a fantastic season. We are very fortunate to be joined by Pipo for all of the TPNAEC races. We all know what he is capable of, as he is super strong behind the wheel.”
In the team’s second entry (No. 22), longtime driver Johannes van Overbeek will drive full-time along with Tequila Patron CEO Ed Brown. For the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races, they will be joined by two additional drivers. First up is Brendon Hartley. The Kiwi racer ran full-time in the Rolex Series in 2013 before moving over to Europe to compete in the highest levels of sports car racing.
Hartley has raced full-time for Porsche Team as a full-time LMP1 factory driver for the past three seasons. In that time, he’s earned eight career victories and won the 2015 World Endurance Drivers’ Championship with teammates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard.
Finally, former Formula One racer Bruno Senna will complete Tequila Patron ESM’s lineup. Senna, the nephew of the late Ayrton Senna, raced in the WEC full-time in 2016 for RGR Sport by Morand in the LMP2 class. Senna, along with teammates Filipe Albuquerque and Ricardo Gonzalez earned two class victories and finished second in the FIA Endurance Trophy For LMP2 Drivers points.
As of now, the Nissan DPi has not officially been shown to the public. The team is not in Daytona for this week’s open test, but does plan to be at Daytona International Speedway for the Roar Before the 24 in January.