Audi Sport

Loic Duval to make full-time WEC return with TDS Racing

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Former Audi LMP1 driver and 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Loic Duval will make his full-time return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018-19 ‘super season’ with LMP2 team TDS Racing.

Duval, 35, was part of Audi’s LMP1 line-up from 2012 until its closure at the end of the 2016 season, taking victory at Le Mans in 2013 en route to the WEC drivers’ title alongside Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.

Duval did not return to the WEC full-time in 2016, making a one-off appearance at the season finale in Bahrain with the TDS-run G-Drive Racing team, finishing seventh in class.

TDS Racing confirmed it will race in the WEC’s LMP2 class through the 13-month ‘super season’, starting next May with the 6 Hours of Spa, and named Duval in its line-up alongside the returning Francois Perrodo and Mathieu Vaxiviere.

“I am very happy to come back to WEC and to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside my Audi program, and more over I am very excited about the environment in which I will complete this,” Duval said.

“It’s a professional race team, but also a family amongst which I know that we will have fun. I would like to thank François and Matthieu for this great opportunity.

“I can’t wait to fight and compete in the LMP2 category which we have seen to be ultra competitive and I look forward to achieving our goals.”

Duval remains part of Audi’s factory driver line-up, having raced in DTM throughout 2017, and is expected to retain his drive for next season alongside his WEC commitments.

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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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.”

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