When Tequila Patrón ESM started the 2016 race season, the Florida-based team committed to just two IMSA WeatherTech Championship events: Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. This weekend, the team will return for its fourth IMSA event of the year to fight for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) title.
ESM rewrote the history books in the opening race of the year, being the first P2 to win Daytona, while also bringing Honda its first overall win at the endurance event. The team returned to the top step of the podium again for Sebring, becoming the first team since 1998 to win both Florida endurance events in the same year. Following back to back victories, the team was tied with Action Express Racing for top honors in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, a four race competition comprised of the four endurance events on the IMSA WeatherTech calendar. The competition encompasses 52 hours of racing, with teams earning points at specific intervals during the race in addition to the checker flag.
Faced with a tie, owner Scott Sharp and Patrón Spirits CEO Ed Brown made the decision to return to the remaining two TPNAEC races: the 6 Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans. The No. 2 Honda Ligier rolled off the truck strong at Watkins Glen, and Johannes van Overbeek set a track record when he qualified on pole position. An unfortunate mechanical issue took the team out of the race in the final two hours, but not before they scored valuable points for leading at the halfway mark.
Now, all eyes are on the final race, Petit Le Mans. The 10 hours of racing will start in the Saturday morning light and end under track lights that evening. The No. 5 Action Express car of João Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi sit just two points ahead of Luis Filipe “Pipo” Derani, Scott Sharp, and Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda Ligier. This weekend, points will be awarded at the four, eight and ten hour marks. Five points will be awarded for first place, four points for second, three for third, and two points for the remaining competitors.
On track sessions for the 19th Annual Petit Le Mans start Thursday, morning September 29. The field will take the green flag for the 10 hour race Saturday morning at 11:00AM Eastern. For broadcast information, visit imsa.com.
Petit Le Mans has always been one of my favorite IMSA events! The track is fast and flowing, and a lot of fun for drivers. We haven’t tested there yet this year, but we expect Road Atlanta to be good track for our Tequila Patrón Ligier JS P2. Action Express has done an amazing job this year and been the class of the field in most of the races ,so we will have our work cut out for us to not only get the win but to clinch the NAEC for Patrón!
Johannes van Overbeek
With one race to go and two points out of the lead, we’re motivated to get the job done on Saturday, October 1st at the Petit Le Mans. It’s one of my favorite races that always has a great atmosphere. I’ve won it twice in a GT car and now I want to win it in a P car. I’m bummed Ed won’t be joining us in the car, but he’ll bring his good luck with him on Saturday as he watches us race track side. I can’t wait to get started.
I am super excited to go back to the U.S.A. and IMSA for Petit Le Mans. Despite the engine issue we had in Watkins Glen, we have been super competitive in the United States this year, and always at the top with our Ligier Honda. I look forward for keeping that momentum to try to bring a third win out of four races for our Tequila Patrón ESM team and consequently the Tequila Patrón NAEC championship! I am sure the competition will be strong like always, but I have a huge amount of respect and trust in our team and I am sure we will all be at 110% to achieve our goals!