BALTIMORE, MD – August 31, 2012 – The trials and tribulations of a street course were in full swing at the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT today for the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports.
The Florida-based team took the bumps, track changes and shortened practice session in stride to qualify sixth and 11th for Saturday’s main event – a two-hour sprint around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the eighth round in the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Driver/owner Scott Sharp wheeled the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Ferrari Italia 458 to the sixth place on the grid with a best lap of 1:31.262 (80.472 mph). On the Long Beach street course in April, the only other temporary street course of the 2012 ALMS season, Sharp and co-driver Johannes van Overbeek qualified ninth and finished on the podium.
The No. 01 drivers, both street course aces behind the wheel, are confident in their driving abilities as well as the performance of the Ferrari to bring home another podium finish.
Ed Brown, co-driver of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón Ferrari Italia 458 qualified the black and green racing machine in the 11th position. Brown lapped the 13-turn circuit with a best time of 1:37.386 (75.411 mph). During tomorrow’s race, Brown will take the first stint before turning the wheel over to co-driver Guy Cosmo.
The ESM team attacked the two-mile course on Friday for two practice sessions and qualifying. All four drivers took the track to familiarize themselves with the 12-turn temporary street circuit in the opening hour-long practice session. During the break in the ALMS action, a tire chicane was installed at turn 12, making a 13th turn. The chicane was added to enable the race cars and drivers to successfully and safely race across the existing railroad tracks on the city streets of Baltimore.
In order to keep the day’s activities on schedule, the second ALMS practice session was condensed from one hour to a mere 30 minutes. During that 30 minute practice time, there were two red flags, which halted all activity on the track. As a result, the ESM team, along with the other ALMS series drivers, had less than two hours of on-track time in advance of tomorrow’s race.
“We rolled off in the first session P6; we were P6 in the last session. Then we were P6 in qualifying, so it sort of seems where we are at the moment. We keep improving the car a little bit, but I think everybody else does too.
“We were two seconds faster than we were in practice, so I think that’s about everything the car has right now. We’re close to the next couple cars in front of us, but we need a good second to get to the lead. We have a little bit of work to do tonight, so we’ll just keep on it.
“I think adding the chicane is much better. Certainly hitting the [railroad] tracks is much better now at slower speeds. I like the tires as chicanes and hope they don’t put the curbs back in like last year’s race because having the tires is definitive. You’re not riding up on top of the curbs. It’s just really clear whether you’re going to make the chicane or not and the run off is just a couple of cones. Some drivers hit the cones, slowed down and then kept going. I like the tires as chicanes, but we’ll see what the track decides to do.
“It is very bumpy out there, but not so much from the drivers’ perspective, the bumps don’t affect you physically, the car dances all over the race track. You always feel like you’re trying to catch-up to the car and stay on top of the bumps. It is a handful.
“This is going to be a fun race. It is going to be a real bumper car-type race. Traffic is going to play role. We’re just going to have to be on our toes and try to use traffic to stay with leaders. We hope we can really improve our car overnight to be able to go and compete tomorrow.”
“We had another long day in Baltimore. We thought we were going to get a lot of run time. The morning session was without a chicane. I think they were just going to deem it too dangerous to run as it was, so they put the chicane back in, the same as last year. It will be interesting. It is what it is, we all have to race and try to figure this out tomorrow with minimal track time.
“We need more front grip on our Ferrari. If we can get that, it will make it easier to drive. The car kind of has a four wheel skid at mid-corner, so it feels like the car is on coasters, but it is just the sensation that it is doing. Then it will grip just before you get to the wall. It is really hard to judge how much speed you can carry in there because you’re driving the corner different on almost every lap.
“The track is bumpy and there are so many abrupt turns that you’ve got to really just man handle the car. This morning I was trying to finesse it a little bit because Long Beach is more of a finesse street course. Here at Baltimore, you’ve just got to ahead and throw it around and see what happens.
“I’ll get in the Ferrari first to start the race, then turn it over to Guy Cosmo and see what he can do.
“We love to be in Baltimore. It is a great place to be, we just wish the cars and the track would get sorted out so we can put on a good show for everybody.”
Source: Extreme Speed Motorsports