Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports will enter Petit Le Mans with two stars, helping the already well known names in the cars.
When the finale in this years WeatherTech Sportscar Championship is run at the Road Atlanta track in Georgia, the team will run Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Norman Nato i #2, while Johannes van Overbeek, Pipo Derani and Timo Bernhard will pilot #22.
Nato and Bernhard replaces Oliver Pla and Nicolas Lapierre, who are the two usual extra drivers for the long distance races in the two cars. Pla and Lapierre will be racing at the Fuji track in Japan in the FIA World Endurance Championship on the same weekend, and since those programs have first priority, the ESM outfit has had to find new drivers for the cars.
Nato is actually a replacement of a replacement himself. The team had originally announced that Antonio Giovinazzi would be running in #2, but with his new Formula 1 contract at the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, he has been told to focus on that job. Giovinazzi got his sportscar debut at Le Mans in June 2018, where he ran for the AF Corse team in GTE Pro.
Norman Nato races in the European Le Mans Series for Racing Engineering, where he races alongside Oliver, as a curious case. Yes, that is how small the world is. He currently sits second in the ELMS LMP2 standings together with Paul Petit. Nato has background in the single seater sport. After all his chances in the single seater ranks ran out, he joined Racing Engineering in their new venture into LMP2, and had his first Le Mans start for the team back in June.
Timo Bernhard hardly needs any presentation, but the double World Champion in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Porsche, tipple 24 Hours of Le Mans winner for Audi and Porsche, 5 times Nürburgring 24 Hours winner for Porsche, double American Le Mans Series Champion for Penske Racing (Porsche) and loads more. He has his own Porsche KÜS Team75 Bernhard team, which participates in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours and the ADAC GT Masters. And it was him posting the incredible lap at the Nürburgring back in June.
Petit Le Mans will also be the farewell race for Johannes van Overbeek. The 45 year old racing driver has chosen to end his professional career, after 16 seasons in the sportscar world. After 4 seasons for Flying Lizard Motorsports in their Porsche 911 GT3-RSR at Le Mans amongst others, plus some seasons in Grand-Am, he moved to ESM in 2010, where he has driving everything from Ferrari’s in GT2 to Ligier LMP2 cars in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.
The team has raced with two Nissan DPi cars in 2017 and 2018, which is based on the French Ligier chassis, plus the Nissan NISMO GT-R engine from their GT3 cars. The team has been known as Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports through all the years, having Ed Brown as one of the team’s co-owners alongside Sharp, when Brown was part of the Tequila Patron concern. That has been sold to the Bacardi concern now, and no longer wants to sponsor motorsport. So the team is chasing a new title sponsor for the 2019. Their plans are to continue in the IMSA series with the Nissan cars, but the team is yet to finalize their plans.
The 21th edition of Motul Petit Le Mans will be run on 13 October.