Sharp talks about the VIR test, the track and the prospects for the rest of the season.
SHARP THRILLED WITH VIR TEST PROGRESS
STUART, FL – June 26, 2012 – Following a highly successful test in mid-June, Scott Sharp and the Extreme Speed Motorsports Tequila Patrón Ferrari team have their sights set on a strong showing at the debut American Le Mans (ALMS) championship event at Virginia International Raceway later this year.
Sharp and ESM participated for the first time in a two-day test at VIR last Thursday and Friday. The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón races at VIR for the first time in series history this September.
During the two-day test, the best lap for the ESM Patrón Ferrari took place in the No. 01 machine with a time of 1:48.422 (108.576 mph). Sharp talks about the test, the performance of the No. 01 and 02 Tequila Patrón Ferrari 458s and the team’s next steps for the 2012 season.
Q: HOW WAS THE TEST SESSION AT VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY?
A: “The ESM Patrón team had a great two-day test at VIR. The first day was the official ALMS test and we stayed an extra day to test more. This was the first time since the Sebring test that we had a chance to run through so much of what we have learned since then and what works well on the car. We were trying a bunch of new options including several things that the team has come up with, thought about and built on. We were able to get a bunch of laps under our belt. The only driver that had substantial laps around VIR was Guy. In the past, he has run a number of races there. Johannes had seen the track one time about 10 years ago and it was brand new for Ed and me. After two days, I think we all clearly learned the track and ran a lot of laps. We walked away feeling very positive.”
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE TRACK SINCE THIS WAS YOUR FIRST TIME AT VIR?
A: “It is a wild track. It is very fast, daunting in a lot of areas and narrow. It is fun to drive on. To put a really good lap together around VIR is definitely thrilling. You certainly make sure your belts are tight because there some super high speed edgy areas. How it will translates into a race for our kinds of cars, could be a different question. The track is so narrow, I think it is going to create a lot of iffy passing zones and there are few passing zones. It will be interesting to see.”
Q: SINCE THE TRACK IS NARROW, DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE PASSING DURING THE RACE?
A: “I think passing is going to be difficult. There are a couple spots for position. There are other spots, if a driver chooses to be defensive, he could take spots away. I’m thinking about the quick closing speeds of the Prototypes that will have on some of the traffic they go through. With any kind of impatience, there can be some very big moments.”
Q: HOW DID THE ESM TEQUILA PATRÓN FERRARI 458S DRIVE AT VIR?
A: “I think we really walked away from VIR looking at the Ferrari 458 as a very strong car on that track. The mix of medium and high speed corners really appeals to the 458. The long straightaways hurt us a little bit with our top speed, but I think we are able to make up for it through all the high-speed sticky sections.”
Q: WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR ESM AND VIR?
A: “I think we feel like we have honed in on a pretty good set-up for VIR. At the same time, we learned some things that should carry over to our next few races. The team has been working quite hard and as we continue to maximize the speed in the Ferraris, we’re inevitably going to learn even more things by the time we get back to VIR for the race. We used the VIR test as both a learning opportunity of the track itself as well as hopefully shot-gunning us forward for the rest of our season everywhere we go. We certainly want to win some races this year.”
Q: IT SOUNDS LIKE THE TEST WAS PRODUCTIVE FOR BOTH THE VIR RACE AND THE REST OF THE ALMS SEASON.
A: “Absolutely. We made progress for the race and the season. We knew the test would have two-fold results. We really wanted to test at VIR because it is a new circuit for the series but the ESM engineers have had several different combinations they’ve wanted to try out at the track. In addition to getting us ready for the races this season, the guys have been working non-stop since Laguna to improve our Ferraris. We know we have fast race cars and with all the extra effort from the team, they’ve made them even faster. Everyone at the ESM shop has been very productive during this mid-season break and what we hoped to find out at VIR came to fruition. Continuous improvement both on-track and in the shop will bring us closer to podium finishes and wins this season. I’m thrilled to see all this hard work paying off. We’re looking to win races this season and we are definitely on the right path.”
Source: Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM)