While wrapping up its 2015 season this weekend in Bahrain, Tequila Patron ESM is already looking ahead to next year, with plans to contest the opening two rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Team owner Scott Sharp confirmed to Sportscar365 plans to field a Ligier JS P2 Honda for both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The single-car effort for the two Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds, according to Sharp, was for logistical reasons, as the Florida-based team prepares for a two-car return assault in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016.
“With all that needs to go on to get the WEC program ready, the thrash we’ve put the team through last year, all the way leading up to the Prologue, [one car made sense],” Sharp told Sportscar365.
“It’s obviously important races to us. We want to keep racing in the U.S. and they’re two races we really love to win. We definitely want to be there but it makes the most use of our resources to just run one car.”
Sharp said the team will utilize OAK Racing’s Ligier-Honda chassis that it ran in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the team’s two WEC cars will not return to its shop until late January.
The car will feature HPD’s enlarged 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 powerplant, which Michael Shank Racing is running for the first time in its Ligier this week at Daytona.
As for the team’s lineup for Daytona and Sebring, Sharp said not to expect any surprises.
“Ryan [Dalziel] won’t be with us unfortunately, but we knew that when we let him go [with VisitFlordia.com Racing],” he said.
“It will be our [other] core guys. You can probably surmise who that will be. We’ll be putting four guys in the car.”
Additional races beyond Daytona and Sebring, including the two remaining NAEC races at Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans, remain to-be-determined, and could depend on car availability.
“If [Daytona and Sebring] went really well, maybe we’d start to look at it,” Sharp said. “But once again, you have to have all of the logistics work to do that. I’m not sure where that car goes after Sebring.”