Following the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi will have a change in driver lineup for the remainder of the 2017 season. Due to ongoing business commitments as President and CEO of Patron Spirits International, Ed Brown, driver of the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi will retire from prototype racing following the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen.
"I have been racing for 14 years," said Brown. "I have had a ball, but given the tremendous growth of Patron, it's more important than ever that I more fully commit my attention to the global business opportunity. The plan was always to retire from prototype racing at some point, and now seemed like the right time."
"It has been an amazing experience over the last 13 years," said Tequila Patron ESM team owner Scott Sharp. "I watched a guy, who had never driven anything, push himself, become immersed in the sport, develop into a top driver, and help score some big wins! Ed has equally been instrumental off the track proving key direction and foresight for us as a team and myself as a friend."
Brown's career as a racing driver began shortly after Tequila Patron ESM sponsored Scott Sharp, and in 2007, Sharp surprised Brown with a Tequila Patron ESM branded car and a four day racing school. Two weeks later, Brown raced in his first event in Cleveland, and found himself properly hooked. In 2009, he raced in the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, and the following year advanced to the American Le Mans Series GT class, racing a Ferrari Italia F433. His first podium came in 2013, with a second place finish at the Long Beach Grand Prix with Johannes van Overbeek. In 2014, Brown and van Overbeek celebrated their first overall win, at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix in the HPD ARX-03b. His 2016 season brought forth two of the biggest wins of his career, celebrating victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"It was a sad day when I found out Ed has to step out of the #22," said van Overbeek, Brown's co-driver since 2013. "He's been driving better than he ever has and continued to grow as a driver in high level motorsports. However, I'll mostly miss our time together at the track. Ed is a mentor and friend and his presence will be missed by, not only me, but everyone on the team."
Twenty-three year old Brazilian race car driver Pipo Derani will return to the team to finish the season alongside Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi. After showing a strong debut in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), Derani joined the team in 2016, taking part in the team's Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring victories. He joined the team for the full season WEC effort, placing in the top five for eight of the nine races.
"It feels great to be back with the team," said Derani. "After a good Daytona, Sebring wasn't the best, but I am really looking forward to Watkins Glen, and even more to continuing the rest of the season. It will be a great pleasure to share the car with Johannes again and I hope to contribute as much as I can to bring this car to victory. I would like to extend my thanks to the team, Scott, and Ed for the trust and wish him all the best for the future."
Not entirely finished as a race car driver, Brown plans to test multiple GT3 manufacturers in the coming months, with the possibility of fielding a GT3 car in 2018.
"No doubt, I'll be there to cheer on Tequila Patron ESM at the races," said Brown. "Johannes and Pipo will make a great combination, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they will accomplish in the remaining races."
"While I'm still hopeful he'll want to jump in for a race here or there, I think he'll find even greater enjoyment quarterbacking the team," concluded Sharp. "Collectively, I want to thank him for helping us build Tequila Patron ESM into the caliber team that we are now!"
Brown's retirement from prototype racing will not affect Tequila Patron ESM's plans in the IMSA series. The team is currently committed to run in the series through 2018. Brown, Sharp, Derani, and van Overbeek will be onsite at the Watkins Glen International media center for a Meet the Team media availability on Friday, June 30 at 9:00AM.