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Pla, Lapierre Complete ESM’s Lineup for TPNAEC Races

Nico Lapierre, Olivier Pla complete lineup for Tequila Patron ESM in TPNAEC races…

Photo: Ford/VSA

Olivier Pla and Nico Lapierre will complete Tequila Patron ESM’s driver lineup for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races, the team confirmed on Monday.

The Frenchmen will join full-season drivers Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel in the No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi, and Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani in the No. 22 car.

Car assignments for Lapierre and Pla have yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.

“Both have shown super strong speed on almost every track and every type of car they have driven,” said Sharp. “They are truly both among the top echelon in sports car racing and will be tremendous additions to our team.”

An experienced racer in Europe, Lapierre boats an impressive sports car racing resume, with 12 wins and an additional 13 podiums in the FIA World Endurance Championship, including two wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, since 2012.

“I’m delighted to join Tequila Patrón ESM,” said Lapierre. “I have already taken part in a few IMSA races and I’ve always loved it.

“In a few occasions I raced against Tequila Patrón ESM and I know how competitive the team is. We will have a strong package next year.”

With notable experience in both the WEC and WeatherTech Championship, Pla will also prove to be a strong asset to the team.

The Onroak Development Driver turned Ford GT Racing driver won Petit Le Mans in 2016, finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, and has earned four wins and an additional 12 podiums in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

“Racing against ESM in the past I know what they are capable of and I think we will have everything to perform at the very best,” he said.

Both Bruno Senna and Brendon Hartley drove for the Florida-based team in the Patron Endurance Cup races this year, with the Kiwi taking the No. 2 car to victory in last month’s Motul Petit Le Mans alongside Dalziel and Sharp.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. In the know

    November 7, 2017 at 10:50 am

    So………. this is interesting news on a few points.

    PLA out at FORD?
    Only 2 Fords for Daytona this year?
    Lapierre is not going to be with Dragonspeed (if they come “home” and race the 24HR)

    • Chris

      November 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

      They could still run three Fords at Daytona, like they did at Sebring. Pla has also kept his Onroak role while driving for Ford, he has driven Ligiers for ESM, Shank and PR1 in IMSA with Ford GTs on the grid before.

      The more interesting observation is that Lapierre is driving a Ligier, as he has driven Oreca or Oreca-associated cars since 2007, and there will be plenty of them on the grid.
      Has anyone got an idea why?

      • Travis McBee

        November 7, 2017 at 11:44 am

        Pla hasn’t driven for ESM until next year. Also with Lapierre, it’s the same case as Senna this year, drives for Rebellion Oreca in the WEC, and ESM Ligier in the NAEC.

      • tracer

        November 7, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        I’m also interested what, if anything, this indicates about Ford’s plans for next year regarding extra cars for enduros. I assume that this is just a matter of Pla focusing on prototype drives.

  2. Luc

    November 7, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Hmmm, very interesting. If Hartley is going to do F1 I can understand that he is not going to no TPNAEC.

    Does this mean that Rebellion will also do TPNAEC if Senna is not coming back?
    Senna is rather impressive in LMP2/DPi’s.

    I think that Lapierre and Pla are very good drivers. However I don’t think they are at quite the same level as Senna and Hartley. Hope they prove me wrong.

    • In the know

      November 7, 2017 at 11:48 am

      I would take Pla over Senna in any car.

      But back to the PLA/FORD comment…. if Pla (i understand he has driven P cars when the FORDS are running) is in with ESM then FORD wont run 4 cars like they usually have. Pla has always driven the Ligier chassis. IIRC he is Ligier test driver.

      Lapierre has always driven ORECA cars, including the Toyota LMP1. Interesting observation Chris. I didnt pick up on that right away…..

      • tracer

        November 7, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        While Senna has certainly impressed me with his LMP2 drives over the last two seasons, I’d also take Pla over him.

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