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ESM Confirms Return to IMSA; Ligier Nissan DPi for 2017

Tequila Patron ESM returns to IMSA; fields Ligier Nissan DPi in 2017…

Photo: Drew Gibson/ESM

Photo: Drew Gibson/ESM

Tequila Patron ESM will return to full-time competition in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year, with a Nissan-supported DPi program with Onroak Automotive, the team confirmed to Sportscar365 on Tuesday.

The move back to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship comes after a two-year run in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

ESM will run a pair of Ligier JS P217-based prototypes with Nissan engines and custom bodywork, as part of a technical partnership with the Japanese manufacturer, a deal that’s understood to have only come together in the last few weeks, and signed on Monday.

Nissan is the first manufacturer to officially commit to IMSA’s new-for-2017 DPi formula, albeit in an engine-supply capacity only.

“Tequila Patrón ESM has had an incredible experience over the last 24 months going to some amazing race tracks, but we are very excited to return to the IMSA WeatherTech Championship,” team owner Scott Sharp said.

The Florida-based team will continue its technical partnership with Onroak, which began last year but took an increased operations support role this year in the WEC with the French constructor.

Drivers have yet to be announced but are expected to feature a familiar mix from the team’s current WEC lineup.

“The DPi program is going to be really exciting, and it will be fantastic to be able to compete not only on our home turf, but for the overall win,” said Patrón Spirits President and ESM driver Ed Brown.

“It’s going to be wonderful to be associated with a world-class brand like Nissan. I think the synergies between the two companies and each of our consumers will give us great opportunities to activate our brands.”

The deal with Nissan is understood to be a powertrain supply only; it’s unclear which organization will be responsible for the custom bodywork design, a requirement for DPi participation.

“We are delighted to join Tequila Patrón and Oak Racing for 2017 IMSA season,” said Nissan Global Motorsports Director Michael Carcamo. “We believe Nissan and Nismo can add to this already successful program by providing a competitive powertrain in the DPi class.”

Onroak becomes the third constructor to align with a manufacturer in IMSA next year, joining Dallara (Cadillac) and Multimatic-Riley (Mazda).

“We wrote an incredible story this year with the double victory at Daytona and Sebring, but 2017 will be like a new start,” said Onroak Automotive team principal Philippe Dumas.

“On behalf of Jacques Nicolet, Onroak Automotive and OAK Racing President, it’s a great honor. This new program will be a huge responsibility and an immense challenge for our group.

“As usual, we will put in all our determination, exhilaration, and will to win.”

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

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