Extreme Speed Motorsports have announced their plans to return to the P2 prototype class for the upcoming American Le Mans Series season.
Using a purpose-built Honda Performance Development ARX-03b prototype the team make the switch from the GT class where they previously raced two Ferrari F430’s before moving on to the newer Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 cars in 2011. 2012 saw victories in the GT class and a second place finish in the championship.
“For ESM to win two races last year, finish second in the GT championship and beat the top factory GT teams in the world is a huge testament to the time, effort, energy and dedication of everyone at ESM and Tequila Patrón” said team owner Scott Sharp.
The team will be hard at work to prepare for the opening round of the American Le Mans Series at the 61st running of the 12 Hours of Sebring having used the Ferrari at the winter testing.
The driver lineup will remain the same for the season ahead with Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek driving the #01 Tequila Patrón racing machine with Ed Brown and Guy Cosmo in the sister #02 car.
Sharp expressed his excitement at the move to P2 and explained that a lack of support in the GT class fuelled the move to the prototype class. “We enjoyed our three-year run in the GT class with Ferrari. If the GT class is a strong factory-supported class and you are not a full manufacturer entry, everything falls on the shoulders of the team. As a result, the independent teams are at a serious disadvantage compared to their factory-supported counterparts.”
With the late announcement Sharp is aware that they have a huge task ahead of them for the season ahead but will ultimately be concentrating on development next season. “We have a terrific opportunity to learn and develop the P2 car this year, and that will put us in an ideal position going into the merged season of 2014!”
Sharp confirmed that despite the switch in ALMS the team would continue its relationship with Ferrari in the GRAND-AM GT class and the Ferrari Challenge.
Team-mate Overbeek expressed his excitement and anxiousness at the announcement. “I’m really looking forward to learning something new this season with these cars. I’m up for the challenge. Even though I’ve driven all the tracks we’re going to – with the exception of Austin and many times in a variety of similar cars – all the tracks will drive like new ones tracks based on the performance of the prototype cars. I’m excited for a new challenge and can’t wait to get started.”
Brown also added that it will be a challenge for the season ahead but is relishing the opportunity. “This is a huge step for me as a driver. I just got out of the car for the first time and I really enjoyed it. There is going to be a little bit of a learning curve on positioning in the car because I’ve never driven a car from the right side, but everything else was there in front of me. I really did enjoy my time in the car this week.”
“What I said after the Sebring test about GT podium finishes still stands now that we’re in P2. You should see us on the podium every single race in this class” he added.
For Cosmo it marks a return to prototypes with experience in 2003 and 2005. “Growing up a go-karter and an open-wheel guy, the prototypes are what I’m most at home in and it is in my blood” enthused Cosmo. “Prototype cars are basically open-wheel cars with fenders on them. They are the closest sports car to an open-wheel car that’s out there. I love prototypes, and I’m excited about the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of one.”