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ESM Aiming to Continue with Nissan DPi Despite Patron Exit

Extreme Speed Motorsports aiming to continue with existing Nissan Onroak DPi package in 2019…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Extreme Speed Motorsports is aiming to continue its Prototype program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year despite Tequila Patron’s exit from the organization, according to team owner Scott Sharp.

The Florida-based squad was founded in 2010 alongside Patron Spirits CEO Ed Brown, who retired from driving last year prior to Monday’s announcement that the company would no longer be sponsoring ESM and exiting motorsports altogether at the end of the year.

While the “handwriting was on the wall” for a while, Sharp said he’s now actively working to retain its current Nissan Onroak DPi effort for 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp told Sportscar365. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong.

“The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

Sharp said they’ll “more than likely” remain with its existing Nissan DPi package, which claimed victories in last year’s Motul Petit Le Mans as well as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

“The team has done a good job, even though we’ve had a little rough [patch],” he said.

“Our existing engineering structure is getting more and more out of the car and I think we’ve still got some gains to be had. I think we can still be very successful with what we have.”

Whether ESM will remain a two-car team, however, is unclear and will come down to financing, according to the former IMSA champion.

With Brown and Patron having funded the majority of the team’s current program, including the IMSA-mandated marketing commitment on behalf of Nissan, Sharp is hopeful the Japanese manufacturer will step up its involvement next year.

Its current deal with Nissan is strictly on a customer engine-supply basis, with the team also having funded the bodywork developments to the Ligier JS P217-based prototype.

“At the end of the day, [Nissan] has been pretty impressed with the job we’ve done and have exceeded their expectations,” Sharp said. “We’re certainly hopeful they will take more of a forefront role in regards to the IMSA advertising [requirements].”

Sharp, meanwhile, said he’s unsure of Brown’s future with the team, stating that he’s currently on a “sabbatical” from racing.

He was, however, quick to praise the company for its support dating back to his drive with Highcroft Racing in the 2008 American Le Mans Series season.

“It was an amazing run with Patron,” he said. “For a second you can’t be sad. You have to be really thankful.

“So many sponsorship deals are two or three years long; I’ve been with them for 13 years. You have to be deeply appreciative.”

ESM Back to Two Cars for Road America

Sharp, meanwhile, has reaffirmed that it will return to a two-car program for the remainder of the WeatherTech Championship season.

The team was forced to scale back to a single Nissan DPi entry at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park following a string of engine-related failures that depleted Nissan’s stock of spares.

A subsequent turbo-related issue for Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani in the CTMP race ended in another retirement, meanwhile.

“NISMO has really jumped on it and recognized a couple of the deficient pieces,” Sharp said. “Those are being replaced on all of the engines. We’ll have primaries and a couple of spares back in time for Elkhart Lake.”

Sharp said he’s looking forward to returning to the site of the team’s breakthrough first victory with the DPi package last year.

“There’s still some really good tracks coming out for us,” he said. “We won at Elkhart and Petit [Le Mans, last year]. They’re great tracks for our cars. And we’ve historically been pretty good at Laguna too. We want to finish strongly, that’s for sure.”

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

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. daedalus

    July 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    I like their optimism, if NISMO can give them a reliable engine they can compete for wins like they did last year which would help to attract sponsors for next year.

    Nissan should pay the manufacture fees for them or better still IMSA should scrap the fees for privater funded outfits so long as there are no OEM logos anywhere on the car or team.

    • Chips O'Toole

      July 16, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Nissan paying the manufacturer fee is highly unlikely.

    • Andy

      July 16, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      But then how do you make a DPi? The point of a DPi, ostensibly, was to use manufacturer guided design to rebody the P2 chassis. Now Mazda has committed to that better than the rest, but unlike the claims of many here and other forums, the rest used details of their street designs. Although Cadillac is the most “design language” driven it’s kind of there. But I have asked many non-car people as did one of the motoring magazines and the average person could make the DPi nose to the street car design with Acura, Nissan and Mazda. You’ll just find the mystery cash pile appears through a subsidiary company of he manufacturers and everyone claiming to be private teams.

      The writing on the wall came about as soon as DeJoria decided to unload his spirits companies including the headliner Patron to Bacardi. Bacardi does not really advertise as Patron did, remember they’ve thrown TONS of cash in to NHRA drag racing as well through his daughter, with Brown’s marketing pushing their advertise the better product and people will drink the better product. And quite frankly tequila was known for a LONG time prior to Patron and others saying it’s not the same thing as the bottom shelf junk of college bars. Not that Patron is tops but it isn’t swill either.

  2. Denz

    July 16, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    Call up Clooney & get him to sign Casamigos up.

  3. Gene

    July 16, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Clooney and partners are out. They sold it in June for like close to $1 billion if they hit performance/sales numbers.

  4. Gene

    July 16, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    uh, and that was June of ’17

  5. Ecoboost

    July 16, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Get an Ecoboost in there and give us a Mustang DPi

    • Andy

      July 16, 2018 at 9:43 pm

      That might be the most realistic DPi plan out there. The GT is on its way out, as are almost all their other cars. But it still feels like they are 2-3 years out from their DPi project starting up.

      • Anthony Thomas

        July 17, 2018 at 5:42 pm

        GT was always limited production anyway.

        Four years was promised plus optional years five and six.

        The production cars are just hitting people’s driveways now, Drag Timesjust got his.

  6. Doug

    July 17, 2018 at 9:03 am

    NISSAN should elevate themselves and make ESM a full factory outfit. They could do worse. It could remove the bad taste in their mouth of failing with that front engine monstrosity at LeMans.

    • The Fisherman 🎣

      July 17, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Too bad Nissan don’t give two hoots about this programme, then.

      • Andy Flinn

        July 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

        Fisherman, too bad Nissan doesn’t give even one hoot about Le Mans. It might have been a competitive race this year.

    • jaysfan

      July 17, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      It won’t happen, Nissan pulled/pulling out of V8 Supercar Series, I doubt they’re going to “offer” support to ESM.

  7. Justin A Porter

    July 17, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Provided they continue I had BETTER see one of those cars in blue with a red doghouse next season. What’s the point of Nissan IMSA cars if you’re not going to call back to Geoff Brabham at least once?

    • Kirk

      July 17, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      That was my thinking. Renumber them as #83 and #84 and paint them like the Electramotive Nissan GTP’s. That would be uber cool.

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