Monday, Sep 01, 2014
Local Sports

ESM targets Laguna Seca win


Published:

Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) eagerly heads to northern California for this weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The last time ESM raced on a permanent road course, both Tequila Patrón-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b prototypes led laps at Sebring.

In the end, the No. 1 machine finished second.

Channeling that race performance, ESM looks to improve its finish by one position and leave California with a win at the two-hour Grand Prix of Monterey, the fourth race in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

All four ESM drivers have different reasons for Mazda Raceway being one of their favorite tracks. Oakland, Calif., native Johannes van Overbeek calls Laguna his home track. In October 2009, Scott Sharp and then co-driver David Brabham clinched the ALMS P1 championship win. In a two-fold announcement that same weekend, Sharp revealed the formation of Extreme Speed Motorsports for the 2010 season and its first driver – Ed Brown. The circuit is also the site of Ryan Dalziel’s first sports car win.

Following that second-place finish at Sebring, Sharp and Dalziel – co-drivers of the No. 1 Tequila Patrón entry – hope to leverage their past successes this weekend. Sharp has one pole position and two podium finishes and Dalziel won in a Daytona Prototype in 2008.

Brown and van Overbeek, co drivers of the No. 2 Tequila Patrón prototype, were unable to complete last year’s four-hour race.

The duo retired at the midpoint due to electrical issues. Finishing the race and standing on the podium are the goals for the No. 2 team this weekend.

The picturesque 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit should favor the high-downforce Honda HPDs, in the medium- to high-speed sweeping corners. In addition to the ever-changing weather conditions and due to the track’s location and elevation, the team will need to work under pressure with a shorter race length. What was a four- or six-hour endurance race for the American Le Mans Series is now a two-hour sprint. Similar to the Long Beach street circuit in April, Sunday’s race features two TUDOR classes – the prototypes and GT Le Mans cars.

Before hitting the race circuit on Saturday morning, van Overbeek will have logged 80 road miles. Equipped with special Tequila Patrón cycling gear and a bike with Continental tires, van Overbeek, ESM crew members, friends and family participated in an annual bike ride from San Jose to Monterey on Tuesday.

The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday and sunday is the fourth race of 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Qualifying for prototype cars takes place at 6 p.m. Saturday. Green flag for the Grand Prix Powered Monterey is 2:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Grand Prix Powered Monterey starts at 5:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. The race will also stream live on IMSA.com.

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