– The Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) team looks to build on the race-winning momentum it set less than a month ago in a return to California for the American Le Mans Monterey, the third race of the 2013 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patrón.
ESM made team history in Long Beach when both the No. 01 and No. 02 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b racing machines finished on the podium. Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo earned their first win of the season as Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown earned their first podium in second place.
Since the team conquered the concrete canyons of Long Beach, its sights now are set on repeating that 1-2 performance this weekend at the 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The ultimate California Dream in the racers’ eyes – a California sweep. Not only would ESM have proved its power and prowess on the street circuit, it also will show it has a handle on running the new P2 racing machines on the road course.
A major difference in this year’s American Le Mans Monterey is that the race has been shortened by two hours. Not quite a sprint or endurance race, ESM thinks that the ‘short endurance’ race this weekend should create more excitement for the racers and fans alike.
The ESM team has ties both on- and off-track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Piloting the No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD this weekend, ESM driver/owner Sharp has a front-row start and a podium finish on his résumé. In addition, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is where Sharp and then co-driver David Brabham clinched the 2009 ALMS P1 championship win. In 2012, Guy Cosmo set the fastest GT lap during the 2012 race, and in 2009 he was the fastest qualifier, set the fastest race lap and won the GT Challenge race.
Johannes van Overbeek, co-driver of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD hails from nearby Oakland, Calif., and calls the northern California track his “home track.” While Ed Brown considers this one of his favorite circuits since it was one of the first tracks where he began his racing career.
van Overbeek is logging a few extra road miles this week before on-track begins. The fitness enthusiast will pedal his bicycle, outfitted with Michelin bicycle tires, from San Jose to Monterey for a total of 80 miles. The annual trek, now in its seven year, is a tradition for van Overbeek. During the six previous rides, ALMS racers Wolf Henzler, Darren Law and Seth Neiman have participated.
On Tuesday, van Overbeek along with ESM’s Matt Bishop (No. 02 crew chief), Leigh Pettipas (No. 01 engineer) and Ricky Capone (No. 02 mechanic) will leave San Jose and meet the rest of the ESM team in Monterey. Also joining van Overbeek this year are Thomas Blam (Flying Lizard strategist), Craig Watkins (former Flying Lizard engineer) and childhood friend Casey Turner.
The four-hour American Le Mans Monterey is the third round of the 10-race ALMS championship and takes place on May 9-11. Qualifying for P2 cars is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PT on Friday, May 10.
The race is set for 3:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 11 from the 2.238-mile circuit in Monterey, Calif. ESPN will air the race at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 12. Live coverage is available starting at 3:15 p.m. PT on ESPN3.
“Coming off ESM Patrón’s first ever 1-2 finish at Long Beach, I can’t wait to get to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca! It’s one of the most beautiful and picturesque tracks in the world and one that the ARX-03b should truly excel on. The many medium- to high-speed sweeping corners appeal beautifully to the high downforce nature of the car.”
“I’m also excited about the reduction from six to four hours in race length. I believe that will be more appealing to our race fans and with the shorter distance, hopefully keep more cars in the running.
“We are learning at every venue this season so the entire ESM Patrón team is excited to continue to dissect the nuances of the P2 cars!”
“I'm looking forward to racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend because it is one of the greatest tracks on the ALMS circuit and my favorite!
"I’m also looking forward to driving the P2 car at Laguna because it is the perfect car for the track. Laguna Seca has a lot of turns and you need to carry that momentum throughout the course. It should be challenging but rewarding.
“My teammate and I plan on keeping the pressure on all the cars in our class and hopefully get another strong finish. We would love to see another 1-2 finish for ESM and Patrón.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will drive like a new track for me in the P2 car.
“Turns two, three, the Corkscrew, and Turn 11 will drive like the GT car. But turns four, five, six, nine and 10 will be a whole new experience with the extra downforce as compared to the GT car. So, I have more than half the turns to relearn. I'm most looking forward to Turn nine and Turn 10 which should be another world in terms of minimum speed and grip.
“The six-hour format always suited ESM / Patrón cars. I think with good pit work and strategy, the four-hour race shouldn’t be much different.
“Ed continues to work hard and make progress in the P2 car so Laguna should be a great race for the 02 car. I'm looking forward to sharing a result with friends and family that will be in attendance."
“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the perfect track for us to finally get our heads around the setup of this P2 car. It's smooth, has slow-, medium- and high-speed corners, and plenty of elevation change. These factors will give us an opportunity to make changes to the setup and learn more about what this car really likes, which is a much-needed opportunity for us.
“The race being two hours shorter than years past does change the dynamic a little bit, more toward a sprint. It also means one driver is more likely to drive longer than another, but strategy always changes so you’ve got to be flexible going in to the race. I think that four hours may just be the perfect distance for a short 'endurance' race.
“I’m really looking to learn this P2 car better. As always I’d love to do it all - qualify on pole, set fastest race lap AND take the win. But most importantly, I want to leave Laguna with knowledge of how to really make this car fast from both a setup and driving standpoint.
“Points are a main concern. We want to win this championship, and we are moving up in the standings. Every point counts. We’ve got stiff competition that believes the same. We are racing to win.”