Getty Images

Kobayashi in at the deep end for Formula E debut with Andretti

Leave a comment

Kamui Kobayashi is facing an uphill challenge when he makes his Formula E debut with Andretti in Hong Kong on Saturday due to a lack of running in the electric series’ unique car.

Ex-Toyota, Sauber and Caterham Formula 1 driver Kobayashi was announced last month by Andretti as debuting in the Hong Kong double-header on a one-off deal, having only completed a short filming day run in its Formula E car after missing the official testing period.

Kobayashi’s first extensive run on a proper circuit in a Formula E car will come in practice on Saturday in Hong Kong, leaving the Japanese racer on the back foot for his debut outing.

“The preparation for myself was not brilliant. I just tried to do as much as I could do without having the proper tests,” Kobayashi said.

“I did the filming day, so it’s not on a track or a long run. I had one day in the simulator which makes me more confident with the car.

“Of course I think when I saw the simulator, I thought I knew what I need to do in the car, but it’s a different track. So let’s see tomorrow.

“I don’t really set targets, but I think need to maximize doing what I can do in a short time.”

Kobayashi is only slated to race for Andretti in Hong Kong before handing the car back to Tom Blomqvist, who was named in the seat on the entry list despite not being officially confirmed by the team.

Formula E officials are known to be keen on finding Kobayashi a full-time seat, though, but it remains unclear where the current Toyota LMP1 driver could slot in given the packed 10-team grid.

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
1 Comment

Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

Follow@KyleMLavigne