Scott Sharp has confirmed that he will concentrate on team ownership next year - expanding his squad's Ferrari 430 GTC assault to a two-car outfit in the American Le Mans Series.
While Sharp had originally intended to return to Patrón Highcroft Racing alongside his LMP1 championship winning partner, David Brabham, the former Indy 500 pole-sitter will now focus all his energies on 'Extreme Speed Motorsports'.
"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 realised the amount of work we have ahead of us," Sharp explained.
"I don't want to do anything at less than 100 percent. It wouldn't have been fair to Duncan [Dayton], 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 programme.
"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 Patrón 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 Patrón squad."
Sharp and Patrón Spirits Company CEO Ed Brown meanwhile will be two of the drivers for the Ferrari GT2 assault.
"As a driver and a sponsor, I really have the best of both words for 2010," added Brown, who will contest his first full season of ALMS competition in 2010 after making his debut this year in the ALMS Challenge Class alongside Bill Sweedler in Salt Lake City.
"Patrón 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 Patrón 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 Patrón cars on track will be outstanding."