Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) will field two Ligier JS P2 Honda coupes in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, after deciding to postpone the homologation of its new HPD ARX-04b prototypes.
Homologating the cars now would necessitate a freeze in development for the next three years.
The Florida-based squad raced the two HPD ARX-04b models at January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, but slow development has prevented the team from meeting the ACO’s homologation deadline that falls just 30 days before the Silverstone FIA WEC opener on April 12.
As a result, ESM will field two of its existing HPD ARX-03b prototypes for this month’s Sebring 12 Hours North American Endurance Cup round. The ARX-03b made its debut in 2013 and has given the team 16 podiums in 21 races, including two wins.
The same cars will also take part in the FIA WEC Prologue test at Paul Ricard and the championship’s opening round, prior to the delivery of the two Onroak-produced Ligier JS P2 Hondas that will serve ESM for the remainder of the season, beginning with the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
“We are naturally disappointed that we are not yet ready for homologation, but we cannot homologate a car that is not yet meeting all of its targets,” said Steve Eriksen, HPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Unfortunately, the time needed for remaining development is at odds with Tequila Patrón ESM’s planned prototype sports car racing efforts this season. We have made the difficult decision to change course at the 11th hour. We look forward to continuing to support Tequila Patrón ESM in its efforts to win races and championships and fully support their revised direction.”
“Thank you to everyone at Honda, HPD, Wirth Research and Tequila Patrón ESM for their tireless efforts over the last four months,” commented Scott Sharp, Tequila Patrón ESM owner and driver. “To ensure a successful FIA WEC season and championship run for Tequila Patrón ESM and HPD, we have decided our best opportunity to win races and the LMP2 title this season is to compete with an existing homologated chassis.”
The ESM driver line-up remains unchanged, with Sharp being joined by Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Jon Fogarty, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson for the team’s first full FIA WEC campaign.