Alton, Va., (Oct. 4, 2013) – Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) continues its championship attack at Virginia International Raceway tomorrow in the fiercely competitive P2 class of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) – aiming to fight back to keep Scott Sharp in contention for the class championship.
Sharp is only 14 points out of the title lead with two races remaining in the season. Four drivers can still claim the P2 class championship in what is the final season of the ALMS before the launch of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship next year.
Johannes van Overbeek, co-driver of the 02 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b, earned his first pole position at VIR last year. During Thursday’s test session and Friday’s practice sessions, van Overbeek was a fixture atop the P2 charts. On Friday afternoon during the 15-minute qualifying session, he lapped the 3.27-mile, 17-turn permanent road course in 1:40.743, placing the car in the third position of the P2 class.
The No. 02 crew will make final adjustments to the car on Friday evening before Saturday’s brief warm-up session and the two-hour, 45-minute sprint race. In addition, van Overbeek, co-driver Ed Brown and the engineering team will set the race strategy and drive order in the next 12 hours.
Scott Sharp took the wheel of the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b for qualifying but suffered an early setback with understeer on a sand-covered portion of the course and made light contact with the tire wall. Sharp limped back to the pits and the team replaced the damaged nose. Returning to the course, he lapped the circuit with a session-best time of 1:42.497, which set him fourth in the P2 class.
The No. 01 team will inspect and repair the race car before tomorrow’s main event. Co-driver Anthony Lazzaro will drive the first stint during the race, and Sharp will drive for the second half of the event.
The two-hour, 45-minute Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway will be streamed live starting at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 5 on ESPN3. The race will be televised at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 6 on ESPN2.
“It has been a rough weekend so far, but hopefully it really turns for us tomorrow. I went out there on my second lap and ran into Turn 11 decently hard. I was on the white sandy-dry stuff and the car wouldn’t turn and then slid; it surprised the heck out of me. Once the left side of the car slid all the way off the track to the grass, it just went right to the tire wall. There was nothing I could do. We put another nose on it, got back out there and put up a decent time. I still needed a couple more laps though.
“We’re at a point where we’ve learned a lot from the car since our test here earlier in the season. Our setup has changed a bit, but we’re all chasing the track. It is warmer here now than when we tested, so we’re adjusting around it.
“The guys have done a lot of work this weekend and we’re hoping that will show in the race. VIR is a good track for the P2 car and we’re looking for good results tomorrow.”
Johannes van Overbeek
“We qualified P3, which is disappointing after leading some of the sessions and being on the pole here last year. We’re still coming to grips with the car and what it likes. The car still isn’t exactly to our liking, but we’ve made it better and that’s the important thing. I think we’ll have a good direction for the race tomorrow. I’m not happy but satisfied with third and hopefully tomorrow we can finish a couple spots up.
“At high speed, it is great. But we’re struggling with a low-speed understeer here. You really have to over slow the car, get it turned and back on the throttle. It doesn’t drive like you think a prototype should through the slower corners. It drives like a car on a gravel road, very little grip for the speed you are going. I think a lot of it is the nature of the track. The track is pretty dirty and it is warm out, that’s not helping us but everyone has the same track conditions. We just need to figure out how to make our car better.”