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ESM looks for 2nd win

Special to Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 07:48 PM

Fresh off its first win in team history, the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports has its sights set on achieving its next victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but this time getting the chance to stand on the top step of the podium to receive the accolades.

ESM's Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek were second across the line at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park two weeks ago, but earned the win after the first-place finisher was excluded post-race. The Florida-based team has shown outstanding pace over the past two American Le Mans Series rounds, but now aims to get one of their Ferrari F458 Italia machines to greet the checkered flag first.

Their next chance to get that win is at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, a two-hour and 45 minute race that takes place this Saturday and will air on ABC with live coverage starting at 2 p.m. 

Two ESM drivers have found success at Mid-Ohio over the years, as van Overbeek has three Mid-Ohio wins to his name, winning in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

"I love Mid-Ohio," van Overbeek said. "It is the first place outside of California I raced. For some reason, Lady Luck shines on me at Mid-Ohio.  It is a nice part of the country and I'm looking forward to going."

Co-driver of the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Ferrari and ESM team owner Sharp has two podium and two top-five finishes at the central Ohio track. 

"The key to success at Mid-Ohio for me starts at turn one," Sharp said. "If you don't get through turn one well you're almost never going to make up the time. You really got to bust your butt through turn one and get that jump on the lap, get your delta time in the positive and that can carry all the way back around, even though there's 13 corners, it can carry all the way around to complete the lap."

Sharp said the fact that members of the team have fared well at the course is a definite advantage.

"In the race it is tight, quarter-panel-to-quarter-panel racing," he said. "It is thrilling and exciting. It ought to be a great track for our Patrón Ferraris. We've all run well there and I'm anxious to get back."

Guy Cosmo, co-driver of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón car, spent many of his early racing days at Mid-Ohio and looks to add an ALMS GT win to his list of accomplishments at the track. Throughout his career, Cosmo has held the Formula Ford, F2000 and Formula Mazda track records at Mid-Ohio. Although those times might have been replaced over the years, in 2009 Cosmo set and currently holds the GTC track record. 

"I think I say this heading into every race weekend, but Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite tracks," Cosmo said. "I raced at Mid-Ohio a lot. I think my father and I practically lived in Ohio in 1997 in efforts to race in everything that they had there under the sun. I've won more races at that track than anywhere else I've been."

Cosmo's co-driver Ed Brown looks for a bit of redemption at the 2.25-mile, 13-turn road course.  In his three attempts in ALMS competition at Mid-Ohio, Brown has fell victim to two on-track incidents and one mechanical issue.  Brown, while driving with Cosmo, looks to shake off the ALMS Mid-Ohio gremlins and finish the event on the podium.

"Mid-Ohio owes me," Brown said. "Three years ago, it took them 45 minutes to cut me out of the car because another car took me out. Two years ago, a Ferrari hit me and took us out of the race. Last year we had a mechanical issue. So, that place owes my teammate and me, and I'm hoping it is this year."

Mid-Ohio marks the midway point of the 2012 season.  Sharp and van Overbeek are tied for seventh place in the driver standings and the Extreme Speed Motorsports team is ranked third in the GT class team points.  With five races remaining on the schedule, there are still plenty of points up for grabs for the drivers and team. 

 The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a two-day event.  The team will take to the track for two practice sessions today, followed by qualifying at 1:55 p.m. The race begins Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

Cosmo said the crowds in Ohio are always great and help make it an excellent venue for racing.

"Mid-Ohio is a fun place to race," Cosmo said. "It is a really fan-friendly track, so it is a lot of fun to go because everybody there knows their stuff. They are really into ALMS and all the details of it." (863) 386-5841