Nancy Knapp Schilke, Sportscar racing correspondent
Scott Sharp's ESM Ferrari team Extreme will compete for Rolex Triple Crown
Scott Sharp likes a challenge and has now included the special Grand Am Rolex Sports Car series Triple Crown for the 2012 season. The Extreme Speed Motorsports has added three Rolex series races to nexy year's schedule and the first race for the Tequila Patrón sponsored team will be the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
The American Le Mans Series team will still compete in the Georgia-based sports car series next year as one of many GT teams that will aim for the ALMS championship. However, the team owner is adding spice to the team’s Ferrari F458 with the addition of the Rolex Triple Crown.
I am excited to bring Patrón, Ferrari and our entire program to this unique and challenging event.
"I'm excited for ESM to take the next step and compete in the Rolex 24 and the Triple Crown,” said Sharp.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The venue has had many tight battles over the half century and with the new Daytona Prototypes, the show is one that many competitors plan to attend next year as the early battle could set the stage for the rest of the season. Therefore, it is not a surprise to see teams and/or drivers from the rival sports car series to cross over for the Daytona 24 contest.
The other two races listed for the Triple Crown title include the Six Hour race at Watkins Glen plus the newest addition on the Rolex series: the inaugural three hour race at the famous Brickyard in Indianapolis. Sharp knows the 2.5 mile oval as a competitor in the Indy 500 race. The former Trans-Am champion earned one of the two IndyCar (IRL) championships in 1996 plus he has 14 Indy 500s under his belt; however, the road course/oval will be a complete new experience for him at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The team’s first challenge will be on the 3.56 mile historic road course in Daytona with Sharp, Ed Brown, Guy Cosmo and Johannes van Overbeek – the actual lineup plus additional drivers who will pilot the black and green livery Ferrari will be named later.
"I got a chance to test at Daytona recently and it was a blast! The 24 hours of Daytona is one of the most prestigious events in the world and I think the Triple Crown will be an important part of our 2012 platform for both ESM and Patrón. I'm excited to get a chance to compete in this series, and at the Rolex 24--it's such a classic race,” said Brown.
Many remember the days of the Ferrari versus Porsche battles at the historic Daytona event. The last win for the Italian manufacturer was in 1998 in a Ferrari 333 SP, which was their fifth victory. ESM and team owner/driver aim to put Ferrari back on top the podium; this time in the GT class with their Italia 458 in the 50th running of the prestigious 24 hour race. Sharp notched the overall 24 hour victory with Wayne Taylor and Jim Pace at Daytona in 1996. The trio were racing in the Riley & Scott Mk III-Oldsmobile for Doyle Racing.
Sharp said, “I've won the 24 and finished second there twice and it's absolutely one of my favorites. Guy Cosmo and Johannes van Overbeek have both had great success there as well, and Ed Brown ran quite fast at a recent test. So, I am excited to bring Patrón, Ferrari and our entire program to this unique and challenging event."