Tequila Patron ESM has signed Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Pla to fill its vacancies for IMSA’s longest WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races. The two Frenchmen replace the outgoing Brendon Hartley and Bruno Senna in the team’s Nissan Onroak DPis.
“We’re excited about bringing them on board,” ESM co-owner/driver Scott Sharp told RACER. “We enjoyed working with Bruno and Brendon, and had success this year with their participation, but with the plans they have for next year, we were really fortunate to get our hands on Olivier and Nicolas.”
Using its Ligier JSP217-based Nissan DPi, ESM scored two wins in IMSA’s Prototype class, including the prestigious 10-hour Petit Le Mans event, that capped an impressive year for the Florida outfit.
With its full-time driver rotation of Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani, and Johannes van Overbeek returning for 2018, Ligier favorite Pla – who also races for Ford full-time in the FIA WEC – and former Toyota LMP1 factory driver Lapierre should ensure there’s no drop off in speed or performance when the WeatherTech Championship returns to action in January.
“I have already taken part in a few IMSA races and I’ve always loved it,” said Lapierre who, like Pla, will learn his DPi car assignment at a later date. “In a few occasions I raced against Tequila Patron ESM and I know how competitive the team is. We will have a strong package next year.”
Pla shared his countryman’s enthusiasm for the new opportunity.
“I’m delighted to join the Tequila Patron ESM team for the endurance races in the NAEC,” Pla said. “Racing against ESM in the past I know what they are capable of and I think we will have everything to perform at the very best.”