Ready to Breakthrough
Ready to Breakthrough
The Twitter post for the Long Beach GT battle may read like this: ESM–RTB@LBGP.
Translation: Extreme Speed Motorsports, the Florida based PatrÃ³n Ferrari team of former ALMS, Indycar, Trans Am and Sports Car champion Scott Sharp, is ready to breakthrough at Long Beach.
Led by Derek Granison and Robin Hill, and featuring Sharp and former Flying Lizard ace Johannes van Overbeek, with Guy Cosmo and Patron exec Ed Brown in the sister car, the brilliant green and black Ferrari 458 Italias have been steadily working up the mountain that is the American Le Mans Series GT category.
The team has made it to the podium twice in the past dozen races, with Sharp and van Overbeek taking second at the 2010 Petit Le Mans and third at last fall’s Monterey race. There is one step, albeit a big one, to take.
“This is the year for us and we really need to step up,” said Sharp. “This is the year we need to start winning races.
“I don’t think there is racing like this anywhere else in the world right now. It is a high bar that we set our sights on, but I think we’re getting it into perspective. Each person on our team is a solid, all-star type of guy. They all get along well, work their tails off and have great attitudes. Each guy in his position is super talented with great experience.
“I think we have a pretty incredible cast. It is just getting the team pushing together to maximize ourselves, that’s what it boils down to. We finally got the chance to develop one car for an entire year and not be waiting for a new car.
“We have really raised our pace from last year. Every area of the program, whether it is performance, reliability, teamwork – it all has to be raised, and I think that’s what you’ve got to do to really have a chance to win in the GT class.
“The GT class is full of world-class drivers. You have teams with enormous depth. The Corvette, BMW and Porsche teams can react and move the ball forward with such speed and grace. That’s really what you are up against. You’ve got to have a team that has that ability in order to keep pace. In our case, it is more than keeping pace, it is catching up. That’s what we’ve had to do these last couple of years.”
So, what would the first win for ESM mean to the team and entire organization?
“We’re so close to a win, we can taste it,” said Sharp. “When we win, it will be huge. There has been so much effort behind this team, the man hours that have gone into this process since we started this team back in October 2009. It started as an idea and we built it through. I think it will be very rewarding.
“They say the first win is the toughest, from there they start flowing, and I really feel that is what will happen for us,” said Sharp. To beat the best from BMW, Corvette, Porsche, Aston Martin and Lotus would make a Long Beach victory especially sweet. With Patron as title sponsor of the ALMS race here, Sharp and his team would need not go far to find a victory party.