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ESM Commits to NAEC Rounds Only in 2015

ESM commits to four-round North American Endurance Cup…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

In addition to its full-season program in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Extreme Speed Motorsports will also contest a limited number of races in North America, having announced Wednesday its commitment to the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup next year.

The Florida-based team plans to field both of its new HPD ARX-04b in the four-round cup, which kicks off at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and 10-hour Petit Le Mans closes out the Patrón Endurance Cup later in the year.

“They’re fantastic races and races every driver wants to win,” team owner Scott Sharp told Sportscar365. “They’re grueling. We all want to win Daytona, and we should have won Sebring last year. Not only are those legendary races but they’re going to be incredible tune-ups for us as a team as we head off to WEC.

“Watkins Glen should be an incredible track for the [HPD ARX] 04b. Petit Le Mans is an icon of a race and a real bummer this year for us to miss it.

“For Tequila Patron to sponsor that, the number one thing we’d want winning that is one of our cars. A lot of focus will go into that. We need to be consistent and get to the end of the first two races, especially with the new car. Reliability will be our goal for those first two races.”

One of the major challenges will be the logistics of the operation, particularly with plans to utilize the same two HPD chassis for both series.

While there are no direct clashes between the FIA WEC season and the Patrón Endurance Cup rounds, there are two occasions where events fall on back-to-back weekends.

The Prologue, the FIA WEC’s mandatory official pre-season test, is only six days after Sebring, while the Six Hours of Fuji takes place the week following the Petit Le Mans.

“It’s going to be challenging but we’re going to do it,” Sharp said. “We’ve already mapped out what we need to do going from Sebring to [Paul] Ricard and the cars will basically leave right away from Sebring.

“We’ll just have to do the same thing for Petit to Fuji. Maybe by then, a third chassis could get entered into the mix, if that’s possible and hadn’t been sold by HPD. Who knows. There’s different options we can look at. We’ll find a way to make it happen.”

While ESM will have a lot on their plate next year, with 118 hours of racing between the 12 endurance events worldwide, Sharp hasn’t completely ruled out the possible addition of a few regular season TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races, should it fit into their schedule.

“We’re running 50 percent more miles than we ran last year,” Sharp said. “It’s a pretty serious budget and serious commitment The guys are going to be on the road quite a lot, so I really don’t see us being able to add any other races. But you never know.

“There’s some other races in the U.S. market that are great for Tequila Patron and also a couple that Honda is interested in us possibly attending. Nothing’s impossible.”

Following a minor delay, Sharp said they now expect to take delivery of their first HPD ARX-04b next month, with testing scheduled to begin in mid-December.

The second chassis, which will arrive unassembled, is also projected to be completed by next month, with the target of having both cars at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 9-11.

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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