After a season of often having the fastest car on the track, Guy Cosmo was hoping the No. 02 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari team would end a year of bad luck with a win at Road Atlanta for the 15th running of the American Le Mans Series presented by Patrón, Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda. It was simply more of the same.
"This final race of the season was representative of how the whole year has gone for Ed [Brown] and I in the 02 Ferrari," said Cosmo. "We just can't catch a break! We were strong… really strong. But once again, the result we deserved just didn't come our way."
Adding insult to injury, on Friday Cosmo made a last lap blast into the record books grabbing the GT pole and setting a new track record. Only hours later, IMSA officials sent No. 02 Ferrari to the back of the pack citing a ride height infraction. Fortunately for ESM, the No. 01 sister car qualified second thereby inheriting the pole position.
"I qualified on pole," noted Guy. "It was my first ever in ALMS GT competition. We failed tech inspection when it was found that a splitter support was broken causing the car to be a couple of millimeters two low. For that, I had to start at the back."
Undeterred, Guy strapped in for the start of the 10 hour race determined to make his way to the front.
"We made up time fairly quickly," noted Guy. "During my first stint, I drove from dead-last to 4th in class. Ed got in and had probably the best stint of his life. He was driving like an absolute animal keeping us in a good position."
But then things started to unravel.
"Ed pitted to get Anthony Lazzaro in the car," said Guy. "Unfortunately, they had a problem with the seat belts, losing a lot of time sitting in pit lane. As expected, Anthony was great behind the wheel and did a great job. Then during my second stint I had contact with another car when he turned down on me in turn one. This resulted in minor damage to the car, but triggered a two-minute penalty that I had to serve. Between the seat belts and the penalty, we just fell too far behind."
Looking across the paddock, Extreme Speed Motorsports is still a fairly young team. Their competitors, Corvette Racing, Flying Lizard Porsche and RLL BMW have years of experience in the ALMS. But their new-team status has quickly been overshadowed by their on-track performance and ability to be in the fight week after week. With back-to-back pole positions in the last two races and the No. 01 car's win at Petit Le Mans, ESM has served notice in the GT ranks.
"Our ESM Ultimat Vodka Ferraris were clearly the cars to beat," added Guy. "I might also add, they were undeniably the best looking cars out there. Fortunately, our teammates Johannes [van Overbeek], Scott [Sharp] and Tony [Vilander] went on to grab the win in the No. 01Ultimat Vodka Ferrari and did it in dominant fashion. An enormous amount of hard work and effort went in by our whole team and each car's respective crews. But the No. 02 certainly deserves to be up front. Next year, perhaps."
Petit Le Mans was founded by Road Atlanta owner Don Panoz and first run on October 10, 1998 as part of the IMSA season. The name translates to "little Le Mans." The race uses the rules established for the 24 hours of Le Mans by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), slightly modified to allow additional cars to compete. The 1999 edition was one of the original events of the American Le Mans Series.
The race covers a maximum of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) (which is approximately 394 laps) or a maximum of 10 hours, whichever comes first; only once, in the rain-stopped 2009 race, has the leading team failed to complete 1,000 miles (1,600 km). Class winners at Petit receive an automatic invitation to next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Series will now break for the winter and resume action in February with the annual winter test at Sebring International Raceway and then kick off the 2013 schedule with the 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 16. In 2013, the ALMS celebrates its 15th year, prior to merging with the GRAND-AM Rolex Series as a unified sports car racing series in 2014. ALMS will also move into the third year of its broadcast/cable television and online partnership with ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3.
Guy Cosmo, 2005 American Le Mans Series Rookie of the Year drives 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 38 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. You can find out more about Guy Cosmo at http://www.guycosmo.com or follow Guy through the racing weekend on Twitter @guycosmo and on Facebook.
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón is based on the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. It features multiple classes of purpose-built prototypes and production-based GT cars that race on the same track at the same time. The ALMS holds events annually throughout North America on premier urban street circuits and top permanent natural terrain road courses. The American Le Mans Series has a leadership role in motorsports for the furthering of alternative fuel technology and use. The ALMS was the first motorsports body in the world to embrace an entire suite of alternative energy sources – E10 and E85 cellulosic ethanols, isobutanol, clean diesel and hybrid technologies. For additional information, please visit www.alms.com.