Thursday, Oct 02, 2014
Local Sports

ESM looking for sweep

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The Extreme Speed Motorsports team looks to build on the race-winning momentum it set less than a month ago in a return to California for the American Le Mans Monterey, the third race of the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.

ESM made team history in Long Beach when both the No. 01 and No. 02 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b racing machines finished on the podium. Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo earned their first win of the season as Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown earned their first podium in second place.

“Coming off ESM Patrón’s first ever 1-2 finish at Long Beach, I can’t wait to get to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said team owner/driver Scott Sharp. “It’s one of the most beautiful and picturesque tracks in the world and one that the ARX-03b should truly excel on. The many medium- to high-speed sweeping corners appeal beautifully to the high downforce nature of the car.”

Since the team conquered the concrete canyons of Long Beach, its sights now are set on repeating that 1-2 performance this weekend at the 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The ultimate California Dream in the racers’ eyes – a California sweep. Not only would ESM have proved its power and prowess on the street circuit, it also will show it has a handle on running the new P2 racing machines on the road course.

A major difference in this year’s American Le Mans Monterey is that the race has been shortened by two hours. Not quite a sprint or endurance race, ESM thinks that the ‘short endurance’ race this weekend should create more excitement for the racers and fans alike.

“I’m also excited about the reduction from six to four hours in race length,” Sharp said. “I believe that will be more appealing to our race fans and with the shorter distance, hopefully keep more cars in the running.”  

The ESM team has ties both on- and off-track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Piloting the No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD this weekend, ESM driver/owner Sharp has a front-row start and a podium finish on his résumé. In addition, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is where Sharp and then co-driver David Brabham clinched the 2009 ALMS P1 championship win.

“We are learning at every venue this season so the entire ESM Patrón team is excited to continue to dissect the nuances of the P2 cars,” Sharp said.

In 2012, Guy Cosmo set the fastest GT lap during the 2012 race, and in 2009 he was the fastest qualifier, set the fastest race lap and won the GT Challenge race.

“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the perfect track for us to finally get our heads around the setup of this P2 car,” Cosmo said. “It's smooth, has slow-, medium- and high-speed corners, and plenty of elevation change. These factors will give us an opportunity to make changes to the setup and learn more about what this car really likes, which is a much-needed opportunity for us.”

Johannes van Overbeek, co-driver of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD hails from nearby Oakland, Calif., and calls the northern California track his “home track,” while Ed Brown considers this one of his favorite circuits since it was one of the first tracks where he began his racing career.

“I’m also looking forward to driving the P2 car at Laguna because it is the perfect car for the track,” Brown said. “Laguna Seca has a lot of turns and you need to carry that momentum throughout the course. It should be challenging but rewarding. We would love to see another 1-2 finish for ESM and Patrón.”

Saturday’s race begins at 6:30 p.m. and the race will be shown on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN2 on Sunday at 4 p.m.


sports@highlandstoday.com

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