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Saturday, Aug 01, 2015

ESM preps for Petit repeat

Special to Highlands Today

Extreme Speed Motorsports knows what it takes to win the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, and the two-car team looks put all six drivers on the podium this weekend.

There are two goals for the final race of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) season - an ESM one-two finish and the P2 championship title for Scott Sharp.

Sharp stands alone in second place in the standings, just six points out of first place. Anything can happen during the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans; with extra points and a championship on the line, ESM is focused and determined to leave Petit with another first-place finish.

One year ago, the No. 01 team of Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Toni Vilander dominated the GT class and won the event with an impressive 30-second lead on the rest of the GT field.

Sharp will co-drive the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b with Atlanta native Anthony Lazzaro and two-time ALMS champion David Brabham.

All three drivers have found success at Road Atlanta over the years.

Lazzaro competed in the first Petit Le Mans and has two victories at the Atlanta-based track. In 1993, Lazzaro won the season opening Oldsmobile Pro Series race and the season ending Van Diemen Formula Ford race.

Lazzaro has four podium finishes at Petit: two runner-up finishes (2000, 2006) and two third-place finishes (2001, 2003).

Brabham also has plenty of success at Petit Le Mans. The Australian - one of ALMS' founding drivers - has two wins (1999 - an overall win - and 2010) at the American classic. The two-time champion returns to ESM to help his 2009 ALMS P1 co-champion Sharp earn the P2 championship this season.

As a two-time Petit Le Mans (2007, 2012) class winner, van Overbeek looks to add another Road Atlanta win behind the wheel of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b with co-driver Ed Brown. Both Brown and van Overbeek list the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit as one of their favorites in the series.

With the addition of Rob Bell, the No. 02 is primed and ready to finish on the podium. Brown and Bell have co-driven at Petit before during the 2011 event and finished 10th in class. The two-time Le Mans Series GT2 champion makes his P2 debut this weekend.

The 1,000-mile/10-hour race is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. It will air on both FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.