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ESM Withdraws from Petit Le Mans, Enters FIA WEC Race in Shanghai

ESM withdraws from Petit Le Mans, enters Shanghai WEC round…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

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.”

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

66 Comments

66 Comments

  1. PoroSnax

    September 20, 2014 at 11:32 am

    IMSA Blown the F out

  2. Christian

    September 20, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Well, is there really any point in going to Petit Le Mans this year? First time I’ll miss this race in 5 years. Oh well, I’m not sad about it.

    • Max

      September 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Sure, the other 50 cars.

      The level of melodrama here and on Racer…

  3. RT

    September 20, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Wow. Didn’t see that coming at all. Figured with the sponsorship of Patron, they would at least run all of the NAEC, not skip the last one! Great to see the WEC’s P2 lineup increase though.

  4. Travis

    September 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Well we know where their going next year.

  5. David Land

    September 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Sorry to see one of the US’s top teams choose a race in fickin’ China more valuable to race in than Petit.

    Get your shit together IMSA.

  6. abear

    September 20, 2014 at 11:42 am

    It seems like just as with the AMA, NASCAR’s influence has again ruined another top notch series. With everyone working on tight budgets, use cars that are marketable worldwide. Have you not watched another series in the U.S. explode in popularity this year by accepting cars that are readily available to race and can be used in multiple series worldwide. IT WORKS! Teams like it, fans like it, everyone wins. I like to attend races, I don’t have the means to travel even to Austin to watch top notch prototypes run in person. I am however geographically close to several of the IMSA tracks and would love to see the new P2’s cars race, but it is looking like I am going to only see DP’s next year. It even sounds like they’re going to be losing GTD cars to other series as well. What was promised to be the best thing to ever happen to American road racing has once again turned into a mess.

    • Steve

      September 22, 2014 at 7:17 am

      GTD cars are not leaving for another series , the only thing on th table for them is the possibility of changing to the FIA GT3 spec for next year. Same cars only faster.

  7. Ben

    September 20, 2014 at 11:43 am

    “ESM Withdraws from Petit Le Mans, Enters FIA WEC Race in Shanghai” *looks at previous story* “Magnus Considering Switch to FIA WEC for 2015”

    Wow this makes IMSA look great…not

    • Nuno Rosario

      September 20, 2014 at 11:55 am

      IMSA´s only hope now is that onroak keeps in the series and that krohn racing HPD decides to participate
      but this ESM last race dropout,considering one of their major sponsors kinda created the NAEC is really bad press for IMSA,even if they had the plans on doing that race or not before the season
      and now magnus racing deciding to go do WEC next season,and corvette racing testing the waters on the same season as well
      well,IMSA look out,is all we should say
      lets all hope these final 2 races go well or someone (or large groups of someones) getting fired

      • 917

        September 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm

        Wow Imsa’s last hopes Krohn Racing lmao what a mess.

      • Max

        September 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm

        Or they just run another two seasons with a mixed field care of the other teams in P and continue on A-OK with P2s in 2017… as planned,

  8. Nate

    September 20, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Cornerstone team bolts, Magnus also looking to bolt, everyone seems to want out. I think I’m missing this whole “United” part of this series. Can’t blame ESM at all, go where they are competitive and where Patron needs to be.

    Was thinking about going to PLM but I’m not traveling to watch DPs meander around for 1000 miles actually 10 hours no way that group makes 1000 miles.

    How long until we see ALMS and Grand Am level entry lists?

    • David Land

      September 20, 2014 at 11:49 am

      They are united… they all want to leave!

    • vance22

      September 20, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Next year Nate. They announced good merger in 2012. You had all year to move prototypes to p2 andthen grandfather them in through 2017. You had over a year to announce that gtd would be gt3. But no. Instead, they made it more difficult for every team on the grid and they’ve destroyed what could have been very special

  9. tobinsmith

    September 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Can’t blame them AT ALL. Great job Scot and Scott for sticking up for us. Pretty excited for the live WEC race tonight AND the radio lemans broadcast- looks like an exciting evening planned with ALL 6 hours available.

    GET IT YET?

  10. Issac

    September 20, 2014 at 11:51 am

    NASCAR + sportscar racing = nothing good for North America

  11. Dan

    September 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    The #2 car better lay low during the race. Nascar will be none to happy about this and we all know Nascar will take revenge against teams.

  12. 917

    September 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Yes! this is the best thing that has happened to U.S. sports car racing in a long time. Hopefully Corvette and Viper follow and tuscar collapses.

    • susafan

      September 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      TUSCAR will collaps when Porsche, Audi and Nissan launch the American Le Mans Cup for their LMP1 cars.

      • Ben

        September 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm

        I’d be the happiest person if there actually became a LMP1 World Series, sort of like the Group C days, although I wouldn’t know what those were like since I wasn’t alive yet 😛

  13. Nate

    September 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Forgot that it is also the last round of the PATRON North American Endurance Cup and Patron doesn’t even want to be apart of it. Wow, just wow.

    • Brifred

      September 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      Daytona’s Philosophy is killing endurance sports car racing in N America.

      • susafan

        September 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm

        Keep Calm and wait for the breakaway series

        • 917

          September 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm

          It’s failing and it’s failing faster than the AMA. The quicker it dies the sooner a series can replace it hopefully run by people who actually care about sports car racing.

          • George 917-30

            September 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

            Right, that will happen. The ALMS (a series I loved) was dying on its own, once Panoz lost enthusiasm and stopped investing (obvious after Audi left). There is not another enthusiast sugar daddy out there to step in with a mythical “breakaway series”. Either TUSC fixes it’s problems, AND we fans support it, or it’s all over.

        • Nuno Rosario

          September 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm

          too soon to start saying *BRING ALMS BACK PLEASE*?

          • 917

            September 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

            Ive been saying that since the merger was announced.

          • ACE_SGV

            September 20, 2014 at 1:19 pm

            ALMS! ALMS! ALMS!

  14. Tom

    September 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    This has all the makings of, as Pete DeLorenzo is fond of saying, a steaming bowl of Not Good.

  15. Ernie2492

    September 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Take that, IMSA..
    I wonder if OAK will do the same thing..?

    • susafan

      September 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      No, if the BoP stays the same (i doubt) they will also clinch Petit as they are the best team with the fastest car and Atlanta is a P2 circuit. And they want to finish ahead of SoD.

      • 917

        September 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        Oaks whole reason for running tusc is to sell cars. If no one in tusc runs a P2 why would they bother trying to sell P2s there?

      • Ernie2492

        September 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        I’d like to see OAK/Deltawing/Mazda on the podium instead of DPs..

    • Steven

      September 21, 2014 at 9:39 am

      No, but it could mean that this is their last race ever as a team. Since Krohn is using a Ligier for next year, all Series’ will have either a Morgan or Ligier in class.

      Maybe it would be time that Oak Racing jumps back into LMP1L and goes up against Rebellion and Lotus.

  16. Helmut

    September 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    In fact only the ELMS offers good LMP2 racing at the moment. The WEC is interesting due to the LMP1-H, but the LMP1-L is a joke and the LMP2 only saw four cars so far. Thanks to ESM we now have five cars. Well, better than four at least.

    But the same issue would have happened if ALMS still existed. Some teams might have moved into WEC, leaving gaps in the ALMS. The LMP2 field wasn’t big in the last two seasons. Remember that the 2012 ALMS had three full-season LMP2 entries with the Conquest Morgan and the two Level 5 HPD, plus the Dempsey Lola at six of the ten events. In 2013 ALMS there were four full-season LMP2 entries with ESM and Level 5. In short, it was certainly not successful. A race event should have more cars and teams per class.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how the LMP3 develop in ELMS. I fear this will end in a disaster, various manufacturers offering an LMP3 but just a limited number of teams, so not much to earn for the manufacturers probably.

    • Helmut

      September 20, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      So IMO, there’s not just the issue with USCC and DP/P(2), but the other endurance series also have problems, even if it’s less visible due to the LMP1-H in WEC.

    • Helmut

      September 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Oh well, and of course various teams are thinking about LMP2 and LMP1-L entries for the next years, but let’s see whether they really show up or not.

    • Drak

      September 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      LMP3 could be primed to take a large chunk of the GT3 market and single seaters.

      Cheaper, safer, quicker than GT3 and could be raced in national championships in the future.

  17. Geordi

    September 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Folks, this’ll mark the end of LMP2 in the USC…

  18. Just Guessing

    September 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    ESM has obviously felt IMSA wasn’t listening to their BoP complaints, and the fact that a BoP change occurred just before OAK premiered their new Ligier for potential customers doesn’t help: adding insult to perceived injury, the Ligier proceeds to kick everyone’s rear ends on the time charts, while ESM remains a distant fifth. Rightly or wrongly, ESM may feel IMSA is more interested in retaining OAK and their potential customers.

    • Max

      September 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Or Occam’s razor, ESM is better than Mazda, Marsh, Delta Wing, is about as good as SoD, but isn’t as good as the other teams. You can’t just cry about BoP until they let you win. Look at what OAK has been able to do.

      • Just Guessing

        September 20, 2014 at 9:17 pm

        Yes, if ESM were trying to make a “statement” by this move–and I don’t know that they were–it has been rather muted by the Ligier’s dominance throughout the weekend (Ganassi only winning by pit strategy); as OAK’s Alex Brundle said post-race, “IMSA have done a really fantastic job balancing this car.” I suspect OAK will make a few sales based on this highly impressive debut, and one would think that bodes well for continued P2 presence in 2015, whether ESM sticks around or not.

      • mimi69

        September 21, 2014 at 12:28 am

        The BOP for this weekend was ridiculous. Elkin and IMSA tried to hand this weeks race to ESM or Oak and they still could not get it done. More HP more fuel and additional weight to help bring the tires in quicker. Then they took fuel away from the DPs. Even allowed Oak to knock out other drivers and block like crazy and they still are unable to pull it out.

        • racefan101

          September 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

          mimi69! can you explain to me how the BOP this weekend was ridiculous? The ESM car finished 5th!!and the reason the Ligier did so well was because it is a new legal (by ACO standards) closed cockpit P2 car. As even you may know, close cockpit cars can squeeze a couple more top speed millage than open cockpit cars. Until now, all the DPs competition were open cockpit P2s (mazda doesn’t count :)). It wasn’t because of this later round of BOP that Legier had a good race. The ESM car had the same BOP applied to their car and yet finished 5th. As for the Oak car blocking like crazy..is this the same kind of blocking Valiante and Westbrook did against the Morgan Nissan at Laguna Seca? In my opinion Valiente caused the Ligier the race win. if he hadn’t spun him out, the Ligier would go on to another 20 second lead or more, as they did before the caution, and pretty much win the race. The 90 car caused Oak 2 wins in my view. Valiente and Westbrook are the most aggressive drivers in tusc. There is a difference of being aggressive drivers (fine with me) and aggressive drivers at the expense of someone else (not fine with me)and this is what they are. So yes they were not able to pull it off but of no fault of their own, but to the fault of the 90 car, (twice).

          • Max

            September 22, 2014 at 2:03 am

            Agreed, and I really like the 90 team. Those guys are exciting, but they really do need to cool their jets a little and race like it’s three to go and not one to go all the time.

            Also, lets not forget that the ESM car in the WEC race was four laps behind the leaders. They finished on the same lap and a bit ahead of the wounded Ligier.

        • Max

          September 22, 2014 at 1:57 am

          It looked pretty fair to me. The Ligier, Action Express Corvette, and Ganassi Ford Riley were able to mix it up on fairly equal footing. If the 90 hadn’t run out of talent going into the first corner on that restart (dumping the 42) we would have had a pretty exciting race there also. This was one of the best balanced race of the season if you simply look at the racing. Hopefully we’ll get to see the same thing next week and in 2015.

  19. Mark

    September 20, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    This series is now officially a joke

  20. Bert walsh

    September 20, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Just like i said in a previous e-mail the france family and nascar are killing offf sportscar racing in north america i give the tudor series maybe two. Years before the series is completely dead thanks nascar

  21. Mike

    September 20, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Considering how well that new Ligier ran our of the box for Oak today why not go to WEC.

    • Steven

      September 21, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Oak does not like to race against its own Customers.

  22. racefan101

    September 20, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    This is pretty much a sign of what they will do next year. Most likely they will be in the WEC and maybe do a few north America races with tusc. In a way I’m sad because I wanted tusc to succeed, as they are the only world class sports car racing we have in America. On the other hand, I can’t really blame them because IMSA really screwed up by favoring the DPs the all season. I think they had enough of that. If Oak decides to leave as well, this series is done. Most of fans will loose interest including me.

  23. Jeff

    September 21, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Why? I always seem to ponder this as I see what the Daytona boys do. They virtually destroyed AMA Superbike, Grand Am was a disaster and, as a byproduct, helped bring down ALMS. TUSC is heading down the same road as Superbike… sigh. I don’t believe they are trying to eliminate competition. AMA and Sportscar fans are not going to watch NASCAR. Killing them off accomplishes what? I believe there is an institutional arrogance in Daytona Beach that we can only imagine the breadth of. Of course if you look at the track record I don’t know why. The only successful series they have every run is Winston Cup/Sprint Cup. The truck series, Nationwide series are money losers. We saw what they did with Grand Am and AMA.. Deja Vu?

  24. JohnRamella

    September 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Good riddance. Find another sponsor for next year. No big deal.

    • racefan101

      September 21, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Good riddance? do you think if Mazda are the only P2s on the grid next year, sport car fans will actually watch Grand Am, the next generation? The series is already walking a very thin line as it is, and you think things will get better if there are no P2s on the grid for next year? you think finding sponsors is not big deal 🙂 not even sure what sponsorship you are referring too.

      • Kirk

        September 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

        racefan101 – Don’t waste your breath. JR is a Grand-Am fanboy. He loves the low tech racing only NASCAR can provide. To him the perfect race series would be a field full of identical DP’s.

  25. KL

    September 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Already have tickets for Petit and was looking forward to seeing them as they are one of my favorite teams. I’m pretty disappointed in this and in the ESM team (I get it, BoP has been off, but it’s getting closer based on the racing in Austin). If they leave the series, no more Patron for me…

  26. Kirk

    September 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

    My plans to go to Petit this year have just been cancelled. That’s OK though. It’ll save me lots of money I would have otherwise spent on hotels, tickets, souvenirs, food, gas, etc. Road Atlanta is roughly five hours away and I won’t drive anywhere near that far to watch a Grand-Am race.

    The sad thing is not only will there be only one competitive P2 car at Petit, but I’m sure the Ligier will be BoP’d to death sometime in the next nine days. There’s no way IMSACAR will allow a new, high tech, French P2 car to dominate their beloved 80’s Trans-Am cars.

  27. Matty

    September 22, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Well the Six Hours of Austin proved what I knew already. ESM is grossly overrated in terms of potential. They definitely will get absolutely blown away in China and any other event they enter in the FIA WEC, as will RSR Racing and Magnus Racing.

    The TUSCC teams are not even close in competitiveness compared to the FIA WEC squads, proved also by the fact Corvette Racing also got outclassed badly. If ESM wanted to win races as Ryan Dalziel claimed, they should have stayed put in the TUSCC.

    That is NOT a BoP issue, it is a team issue. ESM has done an awful job handling adjustments to BoP as has Corvette Racing. Both ought to take a page from Turner Motorsport who has been penalized severely in the BoP yet still podiums despite that. Seems to me right now that Turner is a better squad than either of those two, and this is a GTD team we are talking about, sad.

    • Michael

      September 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

      ESM lost time with the red flag, and then when Ed Brown was in the car they seemed to be hit avoiding the spun #90 Ferrari and were running 2:30s at the end – gearbox trouble said Dalziel.

      Turner has an “amateur” who isn’t actually that – Paltalla drives for MarcVDS in the Blancpain Endurance Pro cup, so that’s why they have been strong since Sebring, which was Dalla Lana’s last race.

  28. southcove

    September 22, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Disappointing news. Somewhat understandable but still disappointing. Sharp had said several times prior to the start of the season and at least once during the season, ‘hey its a transition year, not everything will be perfect, we’ll just buck up and run as hard as we can…’ Okay, but not to have at least one car in Petit smacks of pettiness to me. But w Brown on board, sponsorship Q’s would evaporate w his approval of a change of direction. I was no fan of Level 5, but they always seemed to get more out of the HPD cars than did ESM…would have been interesting to see what happened if another good 2 car team had stayed in the fight to the end of the season. I am not looking forward to seeing what 2015 will bring, especially also w Mazda being slower than PC cars and DP car count being way down over 2014 predictions.

    • Kirk

      September 22, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Yeah, I look back to how excited I was in January, and to see how far the series has fallen in this short a period of time is depressing. There was the hope of big prototype fields with a bunch of DP’s and P2’s dicing it out on equal terms, but after less than one season we’re left with one competitive P2 fighting with four or five DP’s. I guess if the rumor that NASCAR wanted to kill sports car racing is true, then they’ve done a bang up job of it.

  29. Corkscrew

    September 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

    IMSA caved to the former Grand-Am powers to make sure the BOP was decidedly in their favor. Given the performance of the Oak Racing Team at COTA, you can be sure they’re going to get a weight or restrictor penalty for Petit. It would be humiliating for a French-built P2 to beat a NASCAR designed machine in Georgia.

    • George 917-30

      September 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      And if that BOP adjustment doesn’t come, what will you say then? I’ll miss being at Petit this year, but we’re looking forward to being back in ’15, hopefully with a nicely mixed field – including ESM.

      • Corkscrew

        September 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm

        Beyond horsepower/torque advantages of much larger displacement engines (be it the 3.5L EcoBoost or 6 liter V-8), IMSA allowed the traditionally flat-bottomed DPs a HUGE diffuser. I had very close look at the Corvette DP at Long Beach this year. The diffuser was so big you could have fit my VW under it! IMSA should have given them one or the other (horsepower/torque or downforce), but not both. It is hardly a wonder why the DPs have dominated the series, but I’m pretty sure that’s the way Ganassi, Wayne Taylor and Action Expres wanted it.

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