Scott Sharp is leaving the American Le Mans Series winning Highcroft Racing team to concentrate on his own GT2 team for next year's series.

Last month Sharp announced he was moving into team ownership, starting with a single car GT2 effort, using the popular Ferrari F430 under the moniker of Extreme Speed Motorsports, promoting Ed Brown, also the CEO of Patron Spirits, from a GT3 drive to the GT2 effort, that would carry the Patron colours.

It was also originally expected he would remain to defend his Prototype class title with Highcroft in 2010, despite his team taking part in the same events.

Today it was confirmed that Sharp would step aside from his Highcroft duties in favour of his GT2 team, with Sharp planning to fill the role of owner-driver in a team expanded to two Ferraris.

“It was always my intention to come back and defend my championship win with Brabs and the Highcroft boys in 2010 but after I started the process of getting everything established for Extreme Speed Motorsports, I quickly realized the amount of work we have ahead of us,” said Sharp. “I don’t want to do anything at less than 100 percent. It wouldn’t have been fair to Duncan, Brabs and the Highcroft boys if I wasn’t able to be absolutely committed to defending the championship.”

“I’ll really miss working with the guys and driving the prototype cars but the opportunity to establish my own team and really prolong my career way beyond when I eventually hang up my helmet is too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Both Duncan Dayton, head of Highcroft Racing, and David Brabham were glowing in their praise of Sharp.

“We have enjoyed some great times with Scotty over the past two years and will certainly be sorry to see him go,” Dayton said. “He played a key role in turning our team into a championship winning outfit and we will all be forever grateful for that.”

Sharp's replacement at Highcroft will be announced in the “near future” with Dayton adding the team are looking at which drivers they feel would work well with Brabham for the 2010 season.

And Highcroft's loss is Extreme Speed Motorsports' gain, Brown, the team's only other confirmed driver saying “From my perspective as a driver, it will be great to have Scott as my team owner and teammate. He has a played an enormous role in helping me develop my professional driving career and having him as a benchmark to aim for will be very beneficial.”

Brown, Sharp at the rest of the ESM crew will join the American Le Mans Series' already massively competitive GT class, with works squads from BMW and Corvette expected to return, alongside the powerhouses of Flying Lizard and Risi Competizione.