ALTON, VA – The Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) team backed up its first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patrón pole position with its fifth season podium finish today at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
The No. 01 Tequila Patrón Ferrari 458 Italia, co-driven by Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp, finished third in today’s four-hour race - the VIR 240 - the inaugural ALMS event at the circuit. The No. 02 Tequila Patrón Ferrari 458 Italia, co-driven by Ed Brown and Guy Cosmo finished in 11th position.
For the second time this season, the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Ferrari received the Michelin Green X Challenge Award for being the cleanest, fastest and most efficient race car in the GT class. ESM first received the award during the Long Beach street race in April.
On Friday afternoon, van Overbeek earned his first, and ESM’s first, team pole position, which proved valuable in the opening minutes of today’s race where track position was key.
During the lap one, turn one incident where one car spun and backed up the entire field, van Overbeek narrowly escaped the wreckage and made a clean getaway. van Overbeek led the first hour of the race before turning the black and green machine over to Sharp.
During his two hour stint in the Ferrari, Sharp battled with the highly competitive GT class and maintained a top-five position before returning the Ferrari back to van Overbeek for the final hour of competition.
Both van Overbeek and Sharp lapped the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit faster than some of their fellow GT competitors in their respective stints. In the closing 15 minutes of the race, van Overbeek passed the BMW of Bill Auberlen to secure the team’s fifth podium finish of the season. At the checkered flag, van Overbeek crossed the finish line in third place.
On the other side of the ESM pit, the No. 02 Ferrari had a promising race end rather abruptly. Due to an incident when Brown spun during Friday’s qualifying session which required an overnight repair, the No. 02 had to start the race from the back of the ALMS grid.
At the drop of the green flag, Cosmo charged his way through the GTC field and reached his GT competitors. Cosmo repeated the feat of van Overbeek and was not involved in the opening race incident.
Once he was clear of the wreckage, Cosmo charged to the front of the GT field and was running second behind the No. 01. At the conclusion of the first hour of the race, Cosmo turned the No. 02 over to co-driver Brown.
When Brown joined the GT field following the pit stop and driver change, he was ranked in the third position. Brown raced for more than an hour in the No. 02 machine but suffered with steering issues - forcing the crew to replace the entire alternator system.
Brown returned to the racing action after spending more than an hour in the paddock, and was ranked 22 laps off of the GT leader. When the checkered flag flew, the No. 02 finished in 11th position.
Scott Sharp: “The Ferrari was strong. We ran the harder Michelin compound but it took us a little while to get them up to temperature. Both of us gave a lot away the first three or four laps.
The middle stage was quite good for us and then the Ferrari really started sliding around at the end. I think we had a good car; we just needed to have it a little better to make it a great car.
“This was the first pole for ESM. Johannes did a fabulous job and another podium is good progress for the team. We’re starting to feel comfortable getting these podium finishes.
“The No. 02 car was quick too. Ed made enormous progress this week. He came here and drove four seconds faster than he tested here. It was great progress for them.
Then in the race following Ed’s little mishap yesterday, they were every bit as quick as we were, and then they had an alternator problem. A little bit of misfortune for them but once again, both cars showed very strong performances this weekend.”
Ed Brown: “We had a hard week but I think I made some really good improvements as a driver. “I radioed into the ESM pits at the end of the race and told my guys that they proved again that they are the best in the business.
They had to rebuild the car last night and then come in for about an hour during the race to figure out what the electrical problem was and then fix it. They are awesome.
“They wanted to finish the race as a team, so I’m glad we got to do that. “I learned quite a bit today. I worked on really trying to shove the car in the corners. A lot of times I have the tendency to round my corners and I just tried a more aggressive driving style.
The car was tough to drive at the end, but I just kept on giving it steering input and maybe delay how quickly I went to the throttle so the back end wouldn’t come around and it was working.
“A huge thanks to the entire ESM crew for all their work today and this season. We’ll take what we learned this weekend and apply it to Petit.”
“I’m proud of the No. 01 on the podium finish. We’d like to win the race but to have the pole and to get third in a tough race is rewarding. They did a great job.”
Johannes van Overbeek: “VIR was a tough race. We qualified on the pole, led the first stint and then an ill-timed yellow came out and that set us back. We recovered a little bit but not much.
Although finishing third is fantastic, based on the pace we had today with great pit stops and strategy, it is a little disappointing to come up short because I think we could have won the race.
“The track got a little more grip to it as the race went on, but we were running a hard tire and had to really keep pushing it to keep the temperatures up. The hard Michelin tires were the right choice us and we’ll see what we do for Atlanta once we go through all the data figure out how to make the car better."
Guy Cosmo: “I think we were just really lucky at the beginning of the race. We started in the back and then there was that big crash at turn one. I was able to whittle my way through and pick up a bunch of spots.
It got me really close to the leaders in my class, so I picked off a few more GTCs and then just started working my way through the GT field. We had a quick car today but unfortunately our bad luck continued.
“I still love racing here. VIR is bad to the bone. This place is really fast, challenging and an enormous amount of fun and rewarding when you get it right.
For Ed to have been pacing the kind of laps he was doing here at what we would consider the most difficult track we’ve been to so far, I’m proud of him. He did a great job.”
“Congratulations to the No. 01 team on the first pole for ESM and their podium finish.”
Source: Extreme Speed Motorsports