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ESM Confirm Switch To LMP2

Extreme Speed Motorsports are announcing a late move to LMP2 for the full season in ALMS this year.

The team are to acquire and run a pair of HPD ARX 03bs, a move which looks set to kick start the category in the Series.

One catalyst for the move, though long rumoured, appears to be the increasingly factory-focused nature of the GT class.

The first HPD is already with the team, the ex Enzo Potolicchio owned car that was so successful in the 2012 FIA WEC run by Starworks.  The car has already tested in ESM’s handsthis week whilst the second looks set to be a brand new car after options to acquire a second used vehicle apparently came to nought.

All four of ESMs 2012 drivers will move over to the HPD programme, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek, Guy Cosmo and Ed Brown will slot in nicely with the required driver rankings in the solidly Pro-Am class.

Scott Sharp

“I’m very proud that ESM will move to the P2 class, effective immediately. We will have two Honda ARXs for next month’s ALMS season-opener at Sebring.

“We enjoyed our three-year run in the GT class with Ferrari. If the GT class is a strong factory-supported class and you are not a full manufacturer entry, everything falls on the shoulders of the team. As a result, the independent teams are at a serious disadvantage compared to their factory-supported counterparts. 

“For ESM to win two races last year, finish second in the GT championship and beat the top factory GT teams in the world is a huge testament to the time, effort, energy and dedication of everyone at ESM and Tequila Patrón.

“Moving to P2 is a new chapter for us at ESM and a homecoming for Tequila Patrón. We feel we have a terrific opportunity to learn and develop the P2 car this year, and that will put us in an ideal position going into the merged season of 2014!

“Even though we are making this change in ALMS competition, ESM will continue our relationship with Ferrari in the GRAND-AM GT class and the Ferrari Challenge.”

Johannes van Overbeek

“This is the first time I will race prototype machine now that ESM will compete in the P2 class. I’ve raced in a lot of really good GT machinery, but I’ve never been in a purpose-built racing car. I’m anxious and excited for the opportunity.

“This definitely will be an interesting challenge this season as I haven’t had any practical experience in a prototype. I’ve talked to plenty of racers that have driven these types of cars in the past, so I know what to expect. From what I’ve heard, everyone says these HPD ARXs are wonderful to drive. A lot of my former co-drivers have gone on to drive prototype cars with great success, and I expect to add my name to that list of drivers.

“I’m really looking forward to learning something new this season with these cars. I’m up for the challenge. Even though I’ve driven all the tracks we’re going to – with the exception of Austin and many times in a variety of similar cars – all the tracks will drive like new ones tracks based on the performance of the prototype cars. I’m excited for a new challenge and can’t wait to get started.”

Ed Brown

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Tequila Patrón back on a prototype car this season, especially from behind the wheel of one. 

“We’re excited for the future. I think the team evolved so quickly in the GT ranks that we did things in the category that we never thought were possible against the factory teams. We just felt like this was the next best step as a team to move forward, race in P2s and really take that forward into the new series next year.

“This is a huge step for me as a driver. I just got out of the car for the first time and I really enjoyed it. There is going to be a little bit of a learning curve on positioning in the car because I’ve never driven a car from the right side, but everything else was there in front of me. I really did enjoy my time in the car this week.

“What I said after the Sebring test about GT podium finishes still stands now that we’re in P2. You should see us on the podium every single race in this class.”

Guy Cosmo

“This is a little bit of a homecoming for me. My very first American Le Mans Series race in 2003 was behind the wheel of a LMP1 Riley & Scott prototype. That was the only ALMS race I did that year. Then I returned in 2005 driving a LMP2 entry with the three-rotor Mazda.

“Growing up a go-karter and an open-wheel guy, the prototypes are what I’m most at home in and it is in my blood. Prototype cars are basically open-wheel cars with fenders on them. They are the closest sports car to an open-wheel car that’s out there. I love prototypes, and I’m excited about the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of one.

“A prototype car is more nimble, agile and lightweight. The prototypes are so much more responsive and reactive. Everything happens faster and a bit more effortless. It is a lighter, faster car with more downforce and much faster reaction time.

“As we evolve at ESM, I’m really looking forward to the new challenges racing with Ed in our Tequila Patrón P2 car this season and into 2014.”

And ESM look likely to be joined on the grid by Level 5 Motorsport, the Tequila Patron-sponsored team’s commitment ticking the box for Scott Tucker and co. that would see solid full season competition.