ESM and Tequila Patrón Entering FIA WEC Shanghai; Forgoing Petit Le Mans
AUSTIN, Texas – Following its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) this weekend, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) sets its sights on another round of FIA WEC competition by entering the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
The Florida-based team has entered both its Tequila Patrón-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b (HPD) prototypes in the LMP2 class for the Nov. 2 race at China’s Shanghai International Circuit. In order to prepare both Tequila Patrón-sponsored HPDs to meet FIA WEC regulations, Extreme Speed Motorsports will not compete in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s season finale – Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
“What an incredible opportunity and next step to take Tequila Patrón and ESM to Shanghai and race against the top P2 cars in the world,” said Scott Sharp, driver/owner of Extreme Speed Motorsports. "We're equally excited to utilize Tequila Patrón’s investment in motorsports to help further expose the brands to one of the hottest global markets.”
Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Ricardo Gonzalez will co-drive the No. 30 Tequila Patrón HPD. Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and David Brabham will co-drive the No. 31 Tequila Patrón HPD.
“We enthusiastically welcome David and Ricardo to our driver lineup,” continued Sharp. “Both David and Ricardo have raced at Shanghai and we'll leverage their experience there to get our Honda prototypes ready for that six-hour race. We're still learning our way around the FIA WEC. We believe that a two-car effort will be that much stronger in China.”
Over the next several weeks, ESM will make the necessary modifications to both the Tequila Patrón-sponsored machines to compete on the 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) 16-turn permanent road course.
“This weekend was a good test for us with the FIA WEC,” stated Brown. “We’re committed to going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. I feel it is important for us to pick the absolute hardest race that the team could do, and that means racing in China; there’s language, food and logistics issues, among other challenges. If we truly want to be competitive at Le Mans or any other WEC race, we need to get our hands around the series and regulations at one of the most demanding locations. The best thing we can do is throw a challenge at the team. We’re going to learn so much in the week in China; it will pay huge dividends.
“We’re excited but know there is a give and take,” continued Brown. “Racing is expensive and because of that we’ll park the cars at Petit Le Mans and not run the final race of the TUDOR Championship series so we can setup the cars for Shanghai. By all means, we’re going to be racing in the United States next year, but we felt that this was important to set us up for the goals that we’ve set."
Gonzalez won both the 2013 FIA WEC World Championship for drivers and teams in the LMP2 class. A silver-ranked driver, Gonzalez has two previous starts at the Shanghai track. In 2013, Gonzalez and then co-drivers Bertrand Baguette and Martin Plowman qualified fourth and finished third driving for Oak Morgan-Nissan. Gonzalez also won the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans with Baguette and Plowman.
“I’m very excited to be joining ESM and Tequila Patrón for its international FIA WEC debut; what a great opportunity!” said Gonzalez. “Last year was a dream come true winning the driver and team championship titles in LMP2, so I’m definitely ready to come back and keep chasing more victories in the WEC. Shanghai has always been one of my favorite tracks and I love going to China. I’m really looking forward to a successful weekend. I want to thank Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, and Tequila Patrón for giving me this opportunity.”
Brabham has competed with ESM for the last two seasons in the endurance races. Most recently, Brabham co-drove with Sharp and Dalziel to a third-place finish during the 2014 12 Hours of Sebring. Brabham finished fifth during the 2012 6 Hours of Shanghai in the JRM Racing LMP1 machine. In 2012, Brabham to returned the Tequila Patrón-sponsored team for the first time since winning the 2009 American Le Mans Series P1 championship with Sharp. A world-class driver, Brabham has three class (GT1 and LMP1) wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2007-2009) and one overall win (2009).
“I am really looking forward to returning to Shanghai as I have raced there in the past racing for JRM in the HPD P1 car in 2012 and as a guest drive in a Porsche,” said David Brabham. “The track is demanding and has a strange grip level with makes the engineers work overtime. It will also be great to see the team as I haven’t seen them since we came so close to winning the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year. It will be the first time being teammates to Johannes and Ed, so I look forward to working with them again.”
While overseas, ESM drivers and crews will stay connected with family thanks to associate sponsor magicJack. The entire ESM team downloaded the magicApp to their phones to avoid roaming charges while in China.