Extreme Speed Motorsports participated in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, the test in advance of the inaugural 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The Tequila Patrón-sponsored Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03bs were the quickest (1:39.750/128.481mph) of the LMP2-spec cars in the prototype class during the three-day event.
Scott Sharp, ESM owner and co-driver of the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b, talks about this weekend’s test session and The 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26, the inaugural race of the TUDOR Championship.
Sharp’s season-long co-driver for 2014 is Ryan Dalziel. David Brabham joins the No. 1 driver lineup for three of the four Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup events – The Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway and the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta.
Q: HOW WAS THE TEST FROM ESM’S PERSPECTIVE?
Scott Sharp: “It has been a good test for us. We continue to learn about the car and Continental Tires. We’re making progress. The series has made a few more rules adjustments which certainly makes us closer. We’re still about 4-5 mph down on the end of the straightaway, but overall the lap times have gotten closer. That’s all positive. We’re more excited coming out of here after the progress we made this weekend.”
Q: YOU’VE WON AT DAYTONA BEFORE. TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF THIS RACE.
Scott Sharp: “These longer races pay extra points, so it is imperative that in a 10-race championship that you walk out of Daytona with solid points. I think we look at this track as a predominantly DP-favored track with the long straightaways. While we are certainly shooting to win here, we know that there are other tracks that suit our car a little bit better. No matter what we do, we need to finish the Rolex 24, stay out of trouble, have good reliability and we need to get the end.”
Q: THE NO. 1 TEQUILA PATRON HPD HAS BEEN THE QUICKEST AND STRONGEST LMP2-SPEC CARS ALL WEEKEND. DOES THAT HELP WITH THE MOMENTUM AND CONFIDENCE ON THE SEASON?
Scott Sharp: “Definitely. I expect a lot of competition out of the two Nissan cars; they haven’t been here before and we have. Plus we’ve had a couple tests before this weekend, so I think we’re a step ahead of them. Those cars have been the cars to beat in the FIA World Endurance Championship and once they get into their groove, I think they’re going to be pretty tough.”
Q: THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS YOU’VE RACED A FERRARI AT THE ROLEX 24. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE?
Scott Sharp: “The prototype car is easier to drive and so much better around Daytona than the GT car. You are passing cars instead of getting passed every lap. The downforce overshadows some of the challenges on the grip of the tires. It is easier to drive this prototype car than to be hanging on to a GT car.”
Q: THIS IS THE SECOND SEASON FOR ESM IN THE PROTOTYPE CAR. THE TEAM MADE SIGNIFICANT GAINS IN THE 2013 SEASON AND CONTINUES TO IMPROVE WITH EACH ON-TRACK SESSION.
Scott Sharp: “The investment of the 2013 season in these prototype cars is paying off for us now.
“I’m happy with our progress so far. I want to thank the ESM Patrón team for all their hard work. I’m excited about the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup; we want to have a chance to win that. We ought to have a very good car for the other races this season. We’re focused on leaving Daytona with some points, and that would help set the pace of the season.”
(Extreme Speed Motorsports, photo: LAT/Dole)