MECHANICAL ISSUES HAMPER A HARD-CHARGING ESM
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., Saturday, August 20, 2011 - The Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F458s started Round Six of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón today with high hopes of showing speeds that evaded them in yesterday's qualifying session. As desired, the Nos. 01 and 02 squads showed steady improvement early at the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Elkhart Lake's Road America circuit.
Teammates Guy Cosmo and Ed Brown picked up the pace in the No. 02 Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari in the ultra-competitive GT class. Cosmo diligently laid down lap times equal to or better than the class leaders from the drop of the green flag throughout his first stint, before handing over the driving duties to Brown for his turn at tackling the 14-turn Wisconsin course.
Almost immediately into his second stint behind the wheel of the Tequila Patrón machine, Cosmo radioed back to his Extreme Speed Motorsports crew that he was feeling a vibration in the rear of the car. It was this same vibration that grew to a strong shudder over the remainder of the four hour endurance race, relegating the team to an 11th place finish.
"We were really hoping to show the same speeds that we had in our practice sessions over the course of this weekend," commented No. 02 pilot Cosmo. "We started out the day doing just that - posting lap times that were consistent with the leaders. However, on my second stint, our Tequila Patrón Ferrari developed a vibration in the right rear that ultimately cost us a lot of time versus the GT leaders. By the end of the race, it was so strong that it felt like the car might break, so we just played it safe and tried to get it home in one piece. I am otherwise very happy that we were able to show the speed that we know we are capable of displaying."
The No. 01 team's story for the day had an eerily similar sound.
Pilot Johannes van Overbeek took the No. 01 F458 out on track for a double-stint in a similar fashion to the sister 02 car. Overbeek's lap times were better than the class leaders in many cases, and with a little help from yellow flags and pit stops, he handed the Ferrari's keys and a GT class lead to teammate Scott Sharp for him to make a run at a podium finish for the day. However, Sharp had to first serve a stop-and-go penalty for Overbeek taking a passaround in error during caution.
Sharp would not get to make that run at a podium, as he complained of a slipping clutch on his out lap. The ESM owner/driver relied on feedback from his team and eased off the pace a bit to allow things to cool down, but it cost them precious time and distance on the field. However, hope was restored as Sharp was able to finally pick up the pace and make up some positions on his GT competition before making a late pit stop under caution.
A shuffle of the GT field during that pit stop improved the No. 01 position to third in class as the team only took on fuel, while several teams in the class took four fresh tires along with their fuel.
Returning on course, Sharp's day began to unravel as the slipping clutch returned and the grip level of his tires were fading in comparison to the rest of the field. It was a combination that would slowly drag his No. 01 Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari back to 8th in the GT class.
"Johannes ran a flawless stint in the car today, and the team did everything perfectly," stated Sharp. "We had a miscommunication under caution that resulted in us having to serve a penalty, but I felt like we had a really great chance at posting a podium finish. However, on my out lap I felt the clutch slipping everytime I would upshift. We backed off the pace a bit to let the car cool down, but it ended up coming back later in the race. Not being able to push hard at the end and having older tires than the rest of the field was ultimately what held us back. It was not the finish we wanted, but we definitely showed ourselves what we can do by running strong early. I think we can continue the effort at Baltimore."
The Extreme Speed Motorsports team heads to the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on September 3rd.