Opening the year with back-to-back overall victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Tequila Patrón ESM drivers Pipo Derani, Scott Sharp, Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek are seeking to become only the second group of drivers to achieve endurance racing’s triple crown in one year.
The team increased its chances by dividing the four-driver lineup into two of the 23 cars entered in the LMP2 class.
Brown, Sharp and van Overbeek will co-drive the No. 30 Ligier JS P2 Nissan, while Derani joins Ryan Dalziel and Chris Cumming in the team’s No. 31 entry.
In 2000, Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy followed up an overall victory in the Rolex 24 by winning their class at Sebring and Le Mans in an Oreca Dodge Viper GTS-R.
No other team achieved that accomplishment in one year, although ESM and Corvette Racing’s GTE-Pro competitors Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner could both capture the single-season triple crown this weekend.
“It would be amazing to continue to write history after being the first driver to win Daytona and Sebring on my first attempt,” said Derani, who finished fourth in LMP2 with G-Drive Racing last year in his Le Mans debut.
“It would be a dream come true and you can be sure there’s nobody working harder than me and my team to be able to win Le Mans this year.
“Daytona was only my second 24-hour race and adding it alongside Sebring with all the difficulties that we had during that race with rain, traffic and many others, I feel way more prepared than I was last year to tackle the twice-around-the-clock race here in France.”
The Rolex 24 victory came on the 20th anniversary of Sharp’s overall triumph in that event in 1996, when he co-drove with Wayne Taylor and Jim Pace.
While Sharp missed Sebring that year, the three Daytona winners also competed for Riley & Scott at Le Mans, although they failed to finish.
“This year is light years different from back then,” Sharp said, comparing approaching Le Mans then and now.
“To see how Patrón ESM has grown as a team – to see our level of preparation and planning – to see how that turned into the wins at Daytona and Sebring is huge.”
Ironically, ESM will be racing against the car that took them to victory at Daytona and Sebring. Michael Shank Racing has leased that car and will race it as the No. 49Ligier Honda for Ozz Negri, John Pew and Laurens Vanthoor.