Q & A With Owner/Driver Scott Sharp

The Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b.
The Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b.

STUART, Fla. — Scott Sharp, owner of Extreme Speed Motorsports and co-driver of the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development ARX-03b, recently answered questions about his team’s season in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón

The Stuart, FL-based team has three podium finishes this season, including the team’s first one-two finish during the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

How much have you enjoyed being back in a prototype?

“I’ve enjoyed being back in the prototype from the moment I climbed into the cockpit. Being back in that type of car has been fantastic, particularly with all the top guys we have at ESM, knowing how comfortable I feel with them. The minute I got in the car, I remembered racing with open cockpit, not only from visual standpoint, but the cooling because the Ferrari was enclosed and so hot. The downforce of the HPD chassis is very comforting to the driver. It builds your confidence. In so many of the corners where the GT car is a little iffy, the prototype is usually flat. It brakes, accelerates and hits the corners well. We’re only three races into it as a team, but I’m very excited about our move.”

Talk about how the team has adapted to the new machinery.

“I think it has been going pretty well. Obviously we had the one race win already and we’ve run competitively so far. The team has adapted quickly. There are about five or six guys on the team that worked with the old Acura program, so they’ve got a lot of knowledge especially when it comes to build and maintenance of the car. The guys have done an amazing job putting the cars together trouble-free, especially with our experience with the chassis.

“As far as the drivers go, all the guys have picked it up real fast. Everybody loves driving the prototypes. Guy and Johannes have done a little bit of prototype driving. Ed has never driven a prototype and we’re asking a lot of out him without having huge amounts of experience. I think Ed has found it to be a very good confidence building car. The downforce certainly helps. Ed is going much quicker in the prototypes than he ever did in the Ferraris and we’re only at the beginning stages. For all of us drivers, we’re excited to be in car.”

 How rewarding was the Long Beach weekend for you and everyone at ESM?

“The amount of work that went into the season up until that point was amazing, so the payoff at Long Beach was huge. The decision on changing to prototypes wasn’t made until the end of February. The amount of thrash that went through, half the team had colds because they were running themselves into the ground. The thrash that went on before Sebring, into Sebring and right into Long Beach was immense.

“For us to get ESM’s first one-two finish and for us to win in the prototype class that quickly, I think was very rewarding for the whole team. It was a great way to thank them and prove to them that this was a worthwhile endeavor.”

You mentioned the thrashing from pre-season through Long Beach, now that there has been a little bit of break and the team has had time to rest and prepare for Lime Rock, Talk about heading into the second part of the ALMS season.

“We stayed busy as a team. We’re running the Grand-Am race at Watkins Glen with Mike Hedlund, Guy and Johannes, right before Lime Rock. We’ve had a Ferrari Challenge race and we’ve had a couple of different tests. We certainly kept busy, but at the same time the guys had some time off and spent time with their families. It is a beautiful time of year to have a few extra days, if the water is warm enough here in Florida.

“I think we’re going to be ready for Lime Rock. I think the testing paid off well for us. Like we did last year, we spent a couple of days just really working through the different matrix on what makes the car work. The engineers have a better understanding. I think we’re going to come back much more knowledgeable about the car. The drivers have had more laps and are more comfortable in the car. Plus the team has had a chance to catch its breath. Both cars have been completely rebuilt after Laguna, having the first three races on them. The break came at a good time. I think the chambers are fully loaded in the gun now, so we’re ready to go and tackle the rest of the season.”