Extreme Speed Motorsports has pulled the plug on the remainder of its 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship program, opting to skip next month’s season-ending Petit Le Mans in favor of taking its HPD ARX-03b cars to China for the FIA WEC Six Hours of Shanghai.
The Scott Sharp-owned squad made the announcement Saturday morning at Circuit of The Americas, ahead of today’s Lone Star Le Mans double-header, which sees ESM make its FIA World Endurance Championship debut.
“What an incredible opportunity and next step to take Tequila Patrón and ESM to Shanghai and race against the top P2 cars in the world,” Sharp said. “We’re equally excited, to utilize Tequila Patrón’s investment in motorsports to help further expose their brands to one of their hottest global markets.”
Sharp will team with Ryan Dalziel and Ed Brown in the No. 30 Tequila Patron-sponsored HPD in today’s race, with Brown moving over to the No. 31 car for Shanghai alongside Johannes van Overbeek and David Brabham.
Reigning FIA WEC LMP2 champion Ricardo Gonzalez, meanwhile, will join Sharp and Dalziel for the Chinese round on Oct. 31-Nov. 2.
“We enthusiastically welcome David and Ricardo to our driver lineup,” Sharp said. “Both David and Ricardo have raced at Shanghai and we’ll leverage their experience there to get our Honda prototypes ready for that six-hour race.
“We’re still learning our way around the FIA WEC and we believe we’ll be that much stronger with both of our Tequila Patron HPDs in China.”
Today’s TUDOR Championship race will mark their final outing of the year, with no plans having been put in place for 2015, other than its intentions to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and early season FIA WEC rounds.
Whatever program they undertake, it will come with a pair of brand-new HPD ARX-04b P2 cars next year.
“We’re excited but know there is a give and take,” Brown said. “Racing is expensive and because of that we’ll park the cars at Petit Le Mans and not run the final race of the TUDOR Championship series race so we can setup the cars for Shanghai.
“By all means, we’re going to be racing in the United States next year, but we felt that this was important to set us up for the goals that we’ve set.
“We’re committed to going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. I feel it is important for us to pick the absolute hardest race that the team could do, and that means racing in China; there’s language, food and logistics issues, among other challenges.
“If we truly want to be competitive at Le Mans or any other WEC race, we need to get our hands around the series and regulations at one of the demanding location.
“The best thing we can do is throw a challenge at the team. We’re going to learn so much in the week in China; it will pay huge dividends.”