On Saturday, March 16, Prototype P2 class debutantes Tequila Patrón and Extreme Speed Motorsports achieved their opening goal of getting both cars to the finish at the 61st running of the Mobil1 12 hours of Sebring.
Less than one month ago, ESM transitioned into the purpose-built Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b prototypes. The Florida-based team has worked countless hours building and testing the new racing machines. That hard work and effort came to fruition this week with fourth and fifth place finishes at the event.
“We started this week with a brand new car in the 01 and the 02 car that only had one test session on it, and now we know where we need to go from here," stated driver/owner Scott Sharp. "I think we’ve got a long list of where we want to get better. I think we can really start to build a game plan. We all know what needs to be done and we have a short three weeks before the Long Beach street race.”
The No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD started in the fourth position in the ALMS P2 class with David Brabham behind the wheel for an opening triple stint. The Australian turned driving duties over to Scott Sharp and shortly after taking the wheel, Sharp charged through the field and took the No. 01 machine to the P2 lead and set the race pace for the majority of his stint. Guy Cosmo was third on-deck and led laps during his two hour stint.
“We thought we were behind the eight-ball a bit, but it turns out that the average race pace we were as fast or faster than everybody else, so we were in a really good spot" added Cosmo.
Nearly halfway through the race, Brabham was back into the No. 01 for his second go-around the 3.75-mile circuit. Brabham turned less than three laps, heard a loud boom and stopped in turn 11. With some assistance back to the ESM paddock area, the team went to work and diagnosed the issue as a sheared input shaft in the gearbox. The team replaced the damaged piece and the car returned to the track two hours and 15 minutes later.
“I feel spoiled – I finished and started the race for the team," stated Brabham. “We got to the end and picked up some points which is really important for the guys and the team. I think we had a good showing. We were very competitive. Our times were very good compared to the other P2 cars."
The No. 01 car experienced no issues for the remainder of the race and crossed the finish line in fifth position in the P2 class.
The sister No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD started in the fifth position. Anthony Lazzaro drove the first stint and reached as high as third in class. The No. 02 team cruised through the driver lineup of Lazzaro, Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek without any mechanical issues.
“We finished fourth and earned some solid points. We had some struggles today, but our objective was to finish the race and we did," commented van Overbeek.
The No. 02 experienced a few off-track adventures but none to cause serious damage to the race car or the race pace. At the end of the 12 hour endurance event, the No. 02 car was ranked in the fourth position in P2.
“The 02 was quick. We were only a few tenths off the quickest race lap by the winners, so I think we can be proud of our speed,” Lazarro added.
Next on the schedule for the Extreme Speed Motorsports is the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach scheduled for April 19-20, 2013.
“Long Beach is a street course and it will be a whole different animal compared to Sebring," reminded driver Ed Brown.
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