Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
Local Sports

ESM ready for Long Beach

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One year ago, the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports earned its first podium finish of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season through the challenging streets of Long Beach. This year, ESM has two new P2 racing machines that look to stand on the Long Beach podium.

The ALMS championship continues with Round 2 this weekend at Long Beach’s 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street course.

The Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach stands to be a tricky race for the Florida-based team — tricky in the fact that ESM knows the circuit having raced in the GT class there for the last three seasons. But there are plenty of unknowns ahead of the team as this is the second race of the season with the P2 machines and the first time with them through the concrete canyons of Long Beach.

Looking to repeat his 2008 victory and 2012 podium finish, Scott Sharp and new co-driver Guy Cosmo wheel the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b.

“I’m super excited to go back to Long Beach since it is my favorite street circuit,” said Sharp. “The heritage, the history, and the event that Long Beach has become – they have certainly set the mark. You have to drive it aggressively, but as usual for a street circuit, it does have some pretty good passing opportunities.

“As a sprint race, it is completely opposite of an endurance race in the fact that you’ve got to always go, go, go. You have to make use of any and all opportunities that you get — whether you pass in practice, pass a car for position — plus you need to factor in the walls around you.”

Having savored the podium finish last year, Johannes van Overbeek seeks his first prototype podium with co-driver Ed Brown in the No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b.

Balancing the power of the purpose-built prototypes through the unforgiving concrete walls of the street circuit should prove challenging yet rewarding for both the No. 01 and No. 02 entries.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to Long Beach,” Brown said. “Two years ago was one of my better races there and I really want to do well there this season, especially in the P2 car. We struggled a bit last year because Mother Nature caused all kinds of issues last year with rain. This is a tough race to begin with since we have so little track time, and the rain just threw a wrench in the whole plan. We have a lot to do in the one practice session, and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we are race ready for Saturday.

“I really want to do well this week because it was my teammate YoYo’s 40th birthday earlier this week, so it would be nice for us to leave with a win. He finished on the podium last season and we’re looking to finish the weekend with both Patrón P2s on the podium this year.”

In addition to maximizing the performance of the race cars, the other Long Beach challenge is time.

The two-hour race format classifies this event as a sprint race, which adds incremental pressure to the drivers and the teams.

ESM and the other ALMS teams have a single two-hour practice session on Friday morning followed by the 15-minute qualifying session on Friday evening.

Minimal track time needs to yield maximum results. ESM will look to leverage every minute of track time to ensure it has the best race-ready machines in the P2 class.

It might be soon to talk about points, but following the 12 Hours of Sebring, Brown and van Overbeek are tied for third in the P2 points race. Not far behind, and tied for fourth, are Sharp and Cosmo.

On the team side, ESM sits in second place. Every point is valuable, especially since the ESM team is looking to finish 2013 with driver and team championship titles.

The Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach is the second round of the 10-race ALMS championship. Qualifying for P2 cars is scheduled for Friday. Green flag is set for Saturday.

ABC’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday and live coverage is available on ESPN3 starting at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.

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