While the final results won't tell the whole story, Guy Cosmo came away from the American Le Mans Series' 14th running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta extremely optimistic for the 2012 American Le Mans Series Championship.
Once again, the Extreme Speed Motorsports crew stepped up their game and gave their drivers a car that could run up front.
"There was no mistaking we had one of the cars to beat during the race," added Guy. The 02 Patron Ferrari 458 was absolutely stellar. I can't thank the boys from Extreme Speed Motorsports enough for giving us a flawless, finely-tuned machine when it counted… and for making it last. I was wringing that Ferrari's neck in every way imaginable."
Though a lose wheel nut set the team back 8 laps, the No. 02 Extreme Speed Motorsports Patron Ferrari 458GT was quite possibly the car to beat. Sharing the car with co-drivers Rob Bell and Ed Brown, Cosmo set the pace in his first stint pushing the 458 Ferrari to the limit.
"I was bummed about qualifying 10th in GT," said Cosmo. "But, we had a fast car all week so I knew we'd be quick during the race. Not only did we prove that over the entire 1000 miles of the race, I definitely proved it during my first two hours I was behind the wheel going from 10th to 2nd."
Given the brutal pace of a race like Petit Le Mans, every member of the team has to step up their game. Drivers and crew members alike must turn in a no-mistakes performance. Guy's partners behind the wheel did just that.
"My teammates were great," exclaimed Guy. "Rob Bell is an outstanding driver and a perfect fit for our team. He's as fast as anyone out there. When I pulled in from my first stint, Rob hopped in and picked up right where I left off, keeping us in 2nd place throughout his stint."
"I can't say enough about Ed Brown," Cosmo continued. "Ed turned in the best drive of his life. His race laps were faster than he had gone all week… all the while with 53 cars on track creating as much chaos as possible. To say Ed Brown has broken through to a new level is an understatement. He is becoming a true race car driver, and his performance at Petit showed he's ready to put up a serious effort in 2012."
The No. 02 ESM team has faced a tough year in 2011 and Petit Le Mans didn't let up. But neither did the team. When a lose wheel nut at the start of Guy's second stint put the car behind the wall, the 02 crew took it in stride. They came to race the full 1000 miles… and that's what they did.
"Unfortunately we had a wheel nut come loose just as I got back in for the 2nd time," said Guy. "What made it worse was I was all the way to pit exit before I could stop. The only option was to get it back to our garage and inspect the wheel hub and right rear suspension for any additional damage. We lost 8 laps in the process. Needless-to-say, that was the race. Our hopes for a top-five finish were over."
"But we still had plenty of racing to go and championship points to collect," noted Guy. "In 10 hours of racing anything can happen to any competitor. You have to push hard no matter how far down you are. During the remainder of the race we continued to post the quickest lap times while running with the lead group in GT. During my last 1.5 hours in the car, I ran right on the bumper of the class-leading Ferrari of AF Corse. We had a car to win, but it just wasn't our day."
A review of the overall picture leaves the team optimistic for 2012. Petit Le Mans is arguably one of the most important endurance races in the world and the 2011 top-caliber field of world class teams produced one of the most exciting Petits ever.
"All in all it's been a good season," said Cosmo reflecting on the year. "This year's Petit Le Mans was probably the most intense race I've ever driven in. We certainly had our ups and downs, but we've learned a lot and have shown moments of brilliance. With all this knowledge, experience and the progress we've made, I think we are ready to execute race-winning, championship-contending performances in 2012. I'm looking forward to that."
Guy Cosmo, 2005 American Le Mans Series Rookie of the Year competed last season in the No. 02 Extreme Speed Motorsports Patrón Ferrari. Cosmo is a race record-holder at Mid-Ohio (for fastest lap in the GTC series, which he set in 2009 in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup). Cosmo has 28 starts in the American Le Mans Series, finishing in the top-five 18 times and has been on the winner’s podium twice. In addition to being an accomplished driver, Cosmo is also a highly sought-after driving instructor. Find out more about Guy Cosmo at http://www.guycosmo.com and follow Guy through the racing weekend on Twitter @guycosmo.
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón is the world`s leading sports car championship and is recognized as the Global Leader in Green Racing. In the tradition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, multiple classes of cars - purpose-built prototypes and production-based Grand Touring automobiles - race on the track at the same time to create compelling race action and constant passing. All cars in the Series compete using one of five approved alternative fuels or energy sources: clean sulfur-free diesel, cellulosic E85 or E10, Isobutanol and electric hybrid technologies. The Series has more automobile marques involved than any other major race series in the world as manufacturers develop relevant technologies on track that transfer directly to the customer showroom. The ALMS competes at North America`s premier road racing tracks and selected temporary street circuits in major urban markets.