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ESM Signs Bernhard, Giovinazzi for Petit Le Mans

Bernhard, Giovinazzi join ESM for Petit as replacements in WEC clash…

Photos: Tequila Patron ESM

Tequila Patron ESM has signed Timo Bernhard and Antonio Giovinazzi as substitute drivers for October’s Motul Petit Le Mans.

The pair replace Olivier Pla and Nico Lapierre, both of whom will be competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Fuji on Oct. 12-14.

The fourth WEC round of the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ clashes with Petit Le Mans, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship finale, following a date change made earlier in the year.

Bernhard will join Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek while Giovinazzi will race alongside Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel.

Lapierre and Pla competed in the other three Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen earlier in the season.

Pla has commitments with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing at Fuji while Lapierre will drive the LMP2 class-leading Signatech Alpine Matmut entry.

“Each team member of Tequila Patron ESM is super excited to welcome Timo and Antonio to our effort for Petit,” said team owner Sharp.

“Both have deep experience, and fantastic speed race craft! I can’t think of better additions to help ESM defend our win from last year!”

Bernhard will take part in the Road Atlanta race for the tenth time, and has racked up four class wins between 2003 and 2007.

Giovinazzi returns to ESM after competing in two WEC races with the team in 2016, while he drove alongside Derani and Toni Vilander in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Petit Le Mans will mark the final race of Tequila Patron’s sponsorship with ESM, with the brand set to end its motorsports involvement at the end of the season.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake



  1. BirdBrick

    August 27, 2018 at 11:09 am

    A factory Ferrari and a factory Porsche driver, nice.

    • Dave

      August 27, 2018 at 11:12 am

      …and new Nurburgring record holder, don’t forget.

  2. Dan

    August 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Will Risi be back?

  3. The Fisherman

    August 27, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Nice to see a couple of serious peddlers brought in for the team and programme’s last hurrah.

  4. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    August 27, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    ESM has never skimped on hiring drivers to come in for the endurance events. Unfortunate that the money for this will dry up next year and they’ll be struggling to field a Nissan DPi team at all.

  5. Michael Sorensen

    August 27, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    worst photoshop ever though

    • Steve Z

      August 29, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      I give it a Bronze rating

  6. Steven

    August 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Very strong lineups but the problem will be if the Nissan engine could actually go ten hours without failing. It seems their reliability has gotten worse than AER.

    • David Chaste

      August 27, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Cool air really makes those turbos sing good. So come night time, they will really be on a forward charge, so long as they’re still close to the front.

  7. Too Many Podcasts

    August 27, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    The #2 won Petit last year

  8. David Chaste

    August 27, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    There will be roger penske, timo bernhard and romain dumas in the race. Brings back memories of 2007 and 2008. But they will all be on opposing teams.

    Esm is milking every drop out of it’s Patron sponsorship. Not shy about making news at all.

  9. Charlie Turner

    August 27, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Too bad the WEC decided to stage Fuji the same weekend. It WAS nice when we had top shelf competition in the top tier classes that drew tons of spectators to Road Atlanta. More parking for Me!

    • David Chaste

      August 28, 2018 at 6:53 am

      Imsa IS still a better show than WEC. Even elms p2 and wec’s p2 class is a better show than the wec p1 class.

      The only slight edge wec has over imsa is the gte pro class. More cars.

      But the close racing in imsa simply appeals to more casual fan.

    • really

      August 28, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      good point. i’d expect to see 1,000 to 2,000 total show up to petit this year because of this.

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