Extreme Speed caps first ALMS season

October 1, 2010

Extreme Speed caps first ALMS season

October 1, 2010

The two Extreme Speed Ferraris during Thursday night practice at Petit Le Mans. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

While most of the focus at this weekend’s Petit Le Mans centers on the return of Audi and Peugeot to the American Le Mans Series, and the Porsche hybrid’s North American debut, one GT team is wrapping up a successful debut season in the series’ toughest class.

For Extreme Speed Motorsports, this weekend is an opportunity to really showcase its strengths in the incredibly deep field, which has 17 of the 45 cars. In Thursday night’s two-hour practice, ESM Ferraris were first and fourth. In the No. 01 are Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Dominik Farnbacher, with Guy Cosmo, Ed Brown and Joao Barbosa in the No. 02.

Extreme Speed Motorsports took the leap into the GT ranks with a pair of eye-popping black-and-green, Patron-sponsored Ferrari F430 GTs this year.

Sharp assembled the team and brought the talented and underrated van Overbeek to drive with him in the team’s No. 01 car. Cosmo and Brown, in his first year of GT racing after a year in the GT Challenge category, comprised the No. 02.

A fire at Sebring on the No. 01 was learning experience number one for the owner-driver, as Sharp parked the car near a fire station to limit the damage. But the team rebuilt the car and soldiered on.

“We have learned a lot as a first year team,” Sharp said. “But we are knocking on the door for podiums and wins. I’m kind of impatient so I want to see it happen now!”

The team has three fifth place finishes as their best result, but they have starred in other areas as well. The No. 02 car won the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge for GT cars at Utah, the “race within a race” measuring which car goes the farthest, fastest and with the smallest environmental impact.

Van Overbeek has a pair of front row starts, and Brown has grown by leaps and bounds in only his third year ever racing!

“I’ve been on a rocket learning curve,” Brown said. “But Scott pushed hard for me to move up and we did it.”

Sharp had nothing but positive things to say about both of them.

“Johannes (van Overbeek) is fantastic, we’re so pleased with the job he’s done. Being able to pick him up was a really good move. He’s very fast and a real team player.

“And in the 02 car, Guy has done a great job, and is fantastic at coaching. We’ve really thrown Ed, only in his third year ever, into the shark tank. He’s racing against ex-F1 guys out there, but has responded very well.”

For down the road, the goal is continuing its ascendance up the GT grid and transitioning to next year’s Ferrari 458.

“There’s no tougher competition than here,” Brown said. “Scott asked if we ever wanted to grow this into prototypes, but I told him, “Let’s be the most dominant team in just GT2. That is the goal to do that at some point.”

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