STUART, FL – October 10, 2012 – The Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports assault on this year’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta has received a major boost with factory Ferrari driver and 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans GT winner Toni Vilander set to join the team.
Vilander will co-drive with Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Ferrari 458 Italia. Lazzaro rejoins the No. 02 Tequila Patrón Ferrari Italia 458 driver line-up of Ed Brown and Guy Cosmo.
This is the first time Finnish driver Vilander will join ESM this American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season. Vilander has a long history racing, and winning with Ferraris, including the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans win and two FIA GT championship titles. As a driver for Risi Competizione, Vilander made his ALMS debut in 2006 at Lime Rock Park where he qualified on pole and was runner-up at Mosport later that season. In 2010, his best finish at Petit Le Mans was in third, after running out of fuel a mere two turns from the checkered flag. He made amends for Risi in 2011 with victory at Road America.
Atlanta native Lazzaro is familiar working with the No. 02 ESM Ferrari team. Lazzaro was a co-driver in the No. 02 machine during this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring where he finished in the ninth position after late race contact among the other competitors spoiled a top-five finish for the No. 02 team. Lazzaro has found success at Petit Le Mans in the past, he has five top-five finishes at Petit Le Mans including two second place finishes in 2006 (GT2) and 2000 (GT).
Vilander and Lazzaro join Sharp, van Overbeek, Brown and Cosmo on-track for the first time as a team on Monday, October 15, for an open test session at Road Atlanta.
“I’m very happy to be part of the team for Petit Le Mans this season. The ESM team has had a great season so far and I’ve been following them closely.
“It has been a little while since I raced in the ALMS but I’m happy to be back racing and with the ESM team. I love racing in US and can’t wait to get in the Ferrari at Road Atlanta.
“I have a few things to learn since this will be my first time racing with ESM. There will be a few challenges but we’re going to do our best and race for the win.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Petit. A few years ago I was close to win and ran out of fuel on the last lap, so maybe now it's our turn to win.”
“I love racing at Road Atlanta because it is my home and favorite track. I’ve been racing there since 1981. There are always friends, family and plenty of fans that come to the track. The energy at Road Atlanta is amazing. Plus, I’ve had some solid results at Petit before and hope to bring that success with me to the track next weekend.
“I was comfortable with everyone at ESM since my very first day working with them at Sebring. There’s a lot of good talent there, mechanics, engineers and drivers. The team energy as a whole is really fine tuned. They make me feel real comfortable and they have been one of the best teams to work with this season. I can’t wait to get back and race with the team.
“I love driving Ferraris. I have a passion for Ferraris and it is what I’ve raced for most of my sports car career. For my home track to host a world class event, it means everything. To see all the hometown fans at the track is probably one of the best sights in racing.
“My favorite part of racing at Petit is racing during the sunset. I like the energy at the start of the race but when the sun goes down, it gets a little tricky, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Source: Extreme Speed Motorsports