Engine issues hamper Patron ESM’s quest for U.S. three-peat

Photo: Tequila Patron ESM

Tequila Patron ESM returned to the U.S. shores with a vengeance and a winning streak on the line in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, but unfortunately an old gremlin returned.

Engine issues took the No. 2 Ligier JS P2 Honda – the same chassis that won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with ESM and then finished 14th overall, ninth in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Michael Shank Racing – out of contention in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

It was a shame after the team overcame both power steering and seat belt issues earlier in the race. Johannes van Overbeek also delivered the overall pole at 1:35.207, a new track record at Watkins Glen International.

Honda still banked a key podium though with the trio of Ozz Negri, John Pew and Olivier Pla third overall in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda – and with a clear pace advantage on the Corvette DPs which ultimately ended up first and second.

Alas, with necessary points banked for the Patron Endurance Cup at the halfway point of the six-hour race, ESM remains in contention for that title before Petit Le Mans in October, both the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Patron Endurance Cup season finale.

“What a great team effort after the issue we had with our power steering,” Derani said in the team’s release. “We were so lucky to be able to fix it during the full course yellow. We were back in the fight, and unfortunately something happened with our engine. We don’t know exactly what yet. When I jumped out, there was a lot of oil. It’s just a shame. The car was really good and we had a real shot of victory at this one. But we’ll bounce back.”

The team has several FIA World Endurance Championship races in the interim at the Nürburgring (July 24), then Mexico City and Circuit of The Americas (Sept. 3 and 17), before their next IMSA appearance later this year.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023


Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.