ESM is reuniting a championship-winning duo. (Marshall Pruett photo)
Extreme Speed Motorsports has secured the services of three aces to share the driving duties during the North American Endurance Championship portions of the upcoming TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.
The 2010 American Le Mans Series P1 championship-winning duo of David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud will be reunited, although the two will pilot different cars. For Brabham, it also marks a return to ESM after sharing the No. 01 car last year at Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Anthony Lazzaro, who impressed the team in limited P2 outings in 2013, completes ESM’s endurance roster.
The No. 1 ESM HPD ARX-03b P2 entry will undergo a number change for 2014, adopting the No. 1 in place of the No. 01 used by the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost Daytona Prototype, and features team co-owner Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel in full-time roles. Brabham will complete the lineup at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
The former No. 02 ESM HPD ARX-03b P2 entry will also make a change, becoming the No. 2, with co-owner Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek sharing the car for the full 11-round championship. Pagenaud will join the No. 2 squad for Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Lazzaro is signed to the No. 2 for Daytona and Watkins Glen.
Tequila Patrón will continue to serve as the primary sponsor for both cars.
?To be able to add David, Simon and Anthony to our repertoire for 2014 is tremendous,? said Sharp. ?All three are super-fast drivers, smart, and they all are very proficient in the HPD P2 car. I could not be more excited. Where we stand with our four core drivers and then to add this talent to the lineup for the endurance races should show that Patrón ESM is serious about dominating in 2014!?
For Brabham and Lazzaro, the part-time opportunity with ESM will keep them active in the new series, and the same is true for Pagenaud. The Frenchman, however, will also have a full season of IndyCar Series activity to fit within his sports car duties.
Coming off a career-best third-place finish in the 2013 IndyCar championship with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, in which he won two races (RIGHT, at Detroit, with HPD’s Roger Griffiths/ Pic: Marshall Pruett) the 29-year old says he’s happy to have 18 open-wheel races and three sports car outings with ESM to keep busy during the prime of his career.
?Sports car racing has been so useful for my career, and I want to be involved in this united series from the very first race with ESM,? Pagenaud told RACER. ?I love driving interesting prototypes, and this is perfect for me because with my long association with Honda, I can race with them in IndyCar and now I can continue to race with Scott Sharp and Ed Brown in their team driving a HPD chassis and Honda engine.
?I had other offers on the table, but this one, especially with all the people I know in the team that I used to work with in the ALMS, was a quick and easy decision for me to make. I think we can make a good combination.?
Pagenaud drove with the Level 5 P2 team on two occasions last year, finishing second at Sebring and winning Road America in the No. 551 HPD ARX-03b. Staying within the Honda sports car family in 2014, as Pagenaud shares, was an important move to make.
?It’s certainly something I wanted and Honda wanted, so everything has worked out very well in that way,? he added. ?I wanted to be in a world-class team like ESM, and the beauty of all this is the IndyCar schedule helps me with my desire to be in sports cars. I can do these races with ESM in January and March, then do the full IndyCar season, and then go do Petit Le Mans with no conflicts.
?It allows me to stay current in both series, to learn more, which what I always want to do, and I just love driving the P2 cars. I’ve been trying to drink as much knowledge as I can in racing every year, and this lines up perfectly for me. We don’t know which type of car (P2 or Daytona Prototypes) will prove to be the best next year, but I want to help make the HPD the top choice.?
Through his Honda ties, Pagenaud has strapped himself into a long line Acuras and HPDs since exiting the Champ Car Series after the 2007 season, and says he hopes to continue the trend in the future.
?When Scott called me to offer me a drive, I felt very blessed”really happy, and I get to drive the latest HPD chassis,? he continued. ?Since 2008, I’ve driven every single prototype they’ve made, and I’m proud to keep representing Honda in sports cars. It’s a very small legacy, but something I’m very proud of and want to keep going.?