Since the transition into the Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b racing machines so close to the start of the 2013 season, ESM had minimal time to prepare the new race cars for the first three ALMS events this season. Succeeding under pressure, the engineers and crew assembled both cars in record time, led laps at Sebring, earned the first one-two finish in team history at Long Beach, and led laps and earned a podium finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Now as the team heads to Lime Rock Park, it has its sights set on more wins and more double-podium finishes. All four drivers – Scott Sharp, Guy Cosmo, Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek – increased their seat time during several test sessions during the break and look to have that hard work start to pay off this weekend.
Co-drivers of the No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b have even more at stake this weekend. Both Sharp and Cosmo call the 1.5-mile circuit their home track.
Sharp was raised in nearby Norwalk, Conn., approximately two hours south of the facility. Sharp’s memories of the track include being a racer and spectator. He watched his father, Bob Sharp, race at the historic track and then from behind the wheel, the younger Sharp found success in SCCA, Trans-AM and IMSA. Sharp looks to add another Lime Rock win to his résumé. In 2008, Sharp and then co-driver David Brabham were the overall event winners in their Tequila Patrón-sponsored Acura LMP2.
Cosmo is a native of Long Island, N.Y. From his first kart race, Cosmo was a staple at Lime Rock Park during his early racing years. Looking to settle a score with the track after last year’s abrupt end in Turn 7, Cosmo looks to prove he is a master at the series’ shortest track and take the checkered flag on Saturday afternoon.
Brown and van Overbeek, co-drivers of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b, earned their first P2 podium finish of the season at Long Beach and look to repeat that success this weekend. Both Brown and van Overbeek gained valuable seat time during the June break and look to leverage it and build some momentum this weekend one session at a time – practices, qualifying and the race.
ESM is keeping tabs on the P2 drivers’ standings. Following the first three rounds of competition, Sharp and Cosmo are tied for fourth place in the drivers’ standings, just 10 points out of first place. Brown and van Overbeek are tied for fifth. As a team, ESM is ranked second, just seven points out of first place. With seven races remaining this season, there is ample time for the drivers and the team to take the championship lead in the P2 class.
The two-hour, 45-minute American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is the fourth round of the 10-race ALMS championship and takes place on July 5-6. Qualifying for P2 cars is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. ET on Friday, July 5. Live coverage of qualifying begins at 4:25 p.m. ET on Friday, July 5 on ESPN3.
The race is set for 3:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 6 from the 1.5-mile circuit in Lakeville, Conn. The race will be streamed live at www.espn3.com beginning at 2:45 p.m. (ET). Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 6 on ESPN2.
“I’m very excited to get back to Lime Rock; I cut my racing teeth there. I followed my dad around ever since I was six months old. I watched many of his races and ran all of my early races there. It just feels so comfortable. It feels like home.
“It should be a good weekend for us. We spent time testing and working to get the cars ready. I’m proud of the team and our growth with the P2 car during this break. I’m excited. I feel we should be close and very quick. I’m really looking forward to getting into the car this week and hoping for a great result.
“We have a lot of friends and family coming out, both myself and Guy. We always have such great support from the fans. It would be huge for us as a team to win the race, not only for our fans, but for Patrón. We’re looking to show all the work that we’ve been doing this season and especially these last couple of months. We have a lot of high hopes for the rest of the season and Lime Rock is the perfect place to kick that off.
“Lime Rock is a tough track. I love to race there, I really do. With the close proximity of cars and the traffic makes it feel like a street circuit in some ways. It races a little bit like a street circuit, but it is busy. The straightaway goes by in a blur, undoubtedly you’re dealing with traffic because it is the one real spot to pass. You really don’t get much time for error there. The P2 car pulls some pretty good Gs through turns 1 and 2, on the Downhill and the West Bend. It is a pretty physically tough track. There are certain spots on the track where the groove is pretty small and you can’t make any mistakes. It is a track where you have to be aggressive, you have to push when there are openings, you’ve got to jump on, but at the same time you can’t take that extra little chance and go off the groove or getting into too tight a hole with another car.”
“As a whole, the entire ESM team is more confident heading into the race and the rest of the season. We now have a couple of test days under our belt. The engineers have a better handle on the cars, too. The more seat time you can get just to get used to the different things that it does is beneficial. The test in Atlanta and at VIR sets us up for Lime Rock. The tricky part about this weekend will be the Downhill and how much we can take the car through that. Both Atlanta and VIR set us up to be able to do that.
“At Lime Rock last year, the ESM Patrón cars were looking at podium finishes, but both cars suffered some contact late in the race. Lime Rock definitely owes us this year. I’m looking forward to finishing the race with my new teammate Johannes and celebrating alongside Scott and Guy on the podium.
“Lime Rock is in a beautiful area. It is a difficult track because it is small and there’s a lot of traffic. Managing the traffic is a lot of work for the driver because we’re going to be doing laps in less than 50 seconds, so we’re making a lot of turns in a short amount of time with a lot of cars on the track. The fans are great. We always look forward to going there.
“All of us at ESM are glad the break is over. It is time to get back to business and we’re going to get into the meat of the season. We’re now able to get into a rhythm with these cars. We’re going to be racing practically every other week. It is our time to get those podium finishes and wins.”
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK
“I’m getting more comfortable with each mile in the prototype car and liking it more. I’m getting to the point now where I can better help the engineers improve the car. At the same time, I’m looking to get more mileage in it.
“The key to a good run at Lime Rock is to navigate traffic safely versus having the fastest car. Since the track is so short with so many cars, it is hard to use it every lap. In fact, you can’t use it every lap because you’re always passing cars in strange places. The downforce is helpful in the sense that you can pass in places where you normally wouldn’t be able to pass. The prototype car really rewards momentum and with all of the navigation going on, you can’t get a lot of momentum up. Ultimately, the success will come from navigating traffic well and having a car that works well in dirty air. The car needs to be comfortable to drive anywhere it is paved at Lime Rock. You want a car that can run anywhere on the track, especially at Lime Rock.
“This will be my first experience at Lime Rock being in one of the faster class and having to overtake cars, which will be a welcome change rather than constantly looking in my mirror all the time. I’m looking forward to the challenge of where to place the pass and getting the timing of all those down.”
“I’m really eager to get back in the P2 car at Lime Rock. We had a great two-day test at VIR and learned a lot about these HPD machines, so we’re looking forward to putting that information to use.
“As if a lap at Lime Rock wasn’t already fast enough, it’s going to be the fastest I’ve ever experienced in the P2 car. With the downforce these cars produce I’d imagine it will be a bit easier to manage the course and handle traffic at high speeds. However, passing is still going to be really tough.
“It would really be special if Scott and I could share a win at our home track. We both have many fond memories of racing at Lime Rock from the early days of our careers, but of course, would love to create more of those memories. A win is definitely in our sights this week.”