Tequila Patrón ESM are on the lookout for two new drivers for the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans after the decision by the FIA to move their World Endurance Championship round at Fuji to the same weekend.
Neither Olivier Pla or Nicolas Lapierre are now available for the finale of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, which also acts as the final race of the North American Endurance Cup, thanks to their deals with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Signatech Alpine respectively.
Scott Sharp, the team owner of ESM and team-mate in the #2 with Frenchman Pla, says that it was disappointing to see the FIA change the date of the Six Hours of Fuji to allow Fernando Alonso to race in the event, particularly as it affects a number of driver on the IMSA grid, not just Pla and Lapierre.
“It’s a shame that the WEC moved their date and chose to conflict with one of the major endurance races in the world, Petit Le Mans,” said Sharp to Sportscar365. “It’s very unfortunate that both Oli and Nico won’t be able to finish the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup with us.
“It’s difficult as there are guys that are either already committed to programs or they’re already part of the WEC. But it is what it is.”
Action Express Racing will also require a new driver with Mike Conway prioritising his Toyota Gazoo Racing deal, while Mazda Team Joest and United Autosports will lose Harry Tincknell and Bruno Senna respectively.
BMW Team RLL, Park Place Motorsports and the Porsche GT Team will also be looking at their options, all having drivers who are set to prioritise racing in Japan over Petit Le Mans.