TWO-TEAM TEQUILA PATRON ASSAULT ON 2010 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES DANBURY, CT, Monday, November 2, 2009: After a highly-successful championship-winning 2009 season for Patron Highcroft Racing, American Le Mans Series fans will get to enjoy a ...
TWO-TEAM TEQUILA PATRON ASSAULT ON 2010 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
DANBURY, CT, Monday, November 2, 2009: After a highly-successful championship-winning 2009 season for Patron Highcroft Racing, American Le Mans Series fans will get to enjoy a triple shot of Patron in 2010.
Patron Highcroft Racing will return in 2010 to defend its prototype crown alongside the new team founded by Scott Sharp - Extreme Speed Motorsports.
While Sharp had originally intended to return to Patron Highcroft Racing alongside his LMP1 championship winning partner, David Brabham, the former Indy 500 polesitter will now concentrate on team ownership - expanding his team's Ferrari 430 GTC assault to a two-car team.
Sharp and Patron Spirits Company CEO Ed Brown will be two of the drivers for the Ferrari GT2 assault.
David Brabham will again lead the Patron Highcroft Racing campaign. Sharp's replacement aboard the LMP1 championship-winning entry is expected to be confirmed in the near future.
Brabham and Sharp clinched the 2009 LMP1 championship at the final round of the series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The combination recorded seven wins in their time together - four in 2008 and a further three victories this season.
Patron Highcroft grabbed an early points lead this season over de Ferran Motorsports after taking victory at St Petersburg in round two. The Danbury, CT-based squad held the championship lead for the remainder of the season - eventually clinching the title by 17 points.
The championship victory was the first for Tequila Patron which began sponsorship of Sharp in IndyCars in 2006. The son of former six-time SCCA champion Bob Sharp will now follow in his father's footsteps of becoming a race team owner for the first time next season.
Brown will contest his first full season of American Le Mans Series competition after making his debut this year in the ALMS Challenge Class alongside Bill Sweedler in Salt Lake City.
"It was always my intention to come back and defend my championship win with Brabs and the Highcroft boys in 2010 but after I started the process of getting everything established for Extreme Speed Motorsports, I quickly realized the amount of work we have ahead of us.
"I don't want to do anything at less than 100 percent. It wouldn't have been fair to Duncan, Brabs and the Highcroft boys if I wasn't able to be absolutely committed to defending the championship.
"Also in establishing the new Ferrari team, it also wouldn't be fair if I wasn't able to devote the amount of time required to kick-start the new program.
"I'll really miss working with the guys and driving the prototype cars but the opportunity to establish my own team and really prolong my career way beyond when I eventually hang up my helmet is too good an opportunity to pass up.
"I grew up watching my dad run his race team, so to be able to follow in his footsteps will be really rewarding.
"I'm also incredibly grateful to everybody at the Patron Spirits Company for backing my team and giving me this remarkable opportunity. I really appreciate what an amazing chance they have given me and I look forward making sure we turn this new team into another winning Patron squad."
"We have enjoyed some great times with Scotty over the past two years and will certainly be sorry to see him go.
"He played a key role in turning our team into a championship winning outfit and we will all be forever grateful for that.
"It will be great to see more Patron cars on track next year and we will all be working hard to push our sponsor towards more championship success in 2010.
"We're looking closely at our driver options for 2010 and will be indentifying drivers who will be able to work as well with Brabs as Scott has done over the past couple of years.
"Their preferences on car set-up were very similar and they were able to use the same seat. Being able to work so well together played a big role in clinching the championship."
"As a driver and a sponsor, I really have the best of both words for 2010.
"Patron is again backing the championship winning squad as Highcroft aim to take back-to-back title wins.
"From my perspective as a driver, it will be great to have Scott as my team owner and teammate. He has a played an enormous role in helping me develop my professional driving career and having him as a benchmark to aim for will be very beneficial.
"Ferrari is also an outstanding brand for Patron to be associated with.
"The American Le Mans Series has proven to be an exceptional vehicle for us to promote our brand and the increased exposure from having three Tequila Patron cars on track will be outstanding."
"It has been great to drive with Scott over the past two years. We've had some great times both on and off the track and it was a pleasure to share the championship with him.
"He now has a great opportunity ahead of him and while I am sure he may miss driving the prototype, I certainly understand his decision because the opportunity to establish your own team is just fantastic and I know he wants to make sure he gives his new team all the attention it requires.
"I'd like to thank him for all his efforts over the past couple of years and wish him the best of luck with the Ferrari campaign."