Although it came via a post-race disqualification, Extreme Speed Motorsports captured its elusive first win in the American Le Mans Series' GT class this Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Mosport. ESM, the lone full-season entrant running the Ferrari F458 Italia, broke into ALMS in 2010 and has maintained the same driver lineup with Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp in the No. 01, Guy Cosmo and Ed Brown in the No. 02.
The first of the Patron-sponsored 458s with JVO and Sharp at the wheel brought home the win at Mosport in van Overbeek's 100th series start. RACER web editor Tony DiZinno caught up with the two drivers in the aftermath.
Q: Johannes, you had to make the pass on Jan Magnussen for second, and Scott, you were watching as it happened. Your respective takes on the last 10 minutes of the race?
JVO: We had the late yellow with about that time to go, and without it, we would have had more opportunities to pass. The Ferrari is a little slower to get the tires up to temperature, so as a result, with that late yellow, it took a little while to get going. It took some time to get it accomplished. Mosport is such a fast, challenging track and our car suffered in dirty air – Moss Corner at Mosport is really the only opportunity I saw that was fairly low risk with a high probability of success. There were other corners I felt quicker, but it probably would have ended in tears. Luckily it worked out.
Jan was working on Jorg (Bergmeister) pretty hard. Jan was trying to get Jorg off balance. A slight mistake was all it would take to get ahead. But it would have been hard to go without contact. With those two together, I could watch their strengths and weaknesses. I was sort of hoping when I went underneath Jan, he'd tap Jorg, which he did, but not enough to loosen him up. In a perfect world, I would have gone underneath both on the inside, and then come home free.
SS: Right after that restart we all expected big fireworks. With the Corvettes and Johannes behind, maybe Jorg wasn't necessarily faster. But it spread out a few car lengths, not really shoving until the last lap. I thought, “OK, I don't think we'll get them because A. they'll be defensive and B. we're running out of time.” I was a little surprised when Jan opened the door in (Turn) 5, and Johannes was right on and filled it.
Q: When, where and how were you notified the Flying Lizard Porsche had failed tech?
JVO: I found out on the way to airport – we flew back that night. I'd started hearing murmurs of it. Since I used to drive for Flying Lizard, I still have a lot of their guys' phone numbers. So I started calling around, got it confirmed, and at that point I knew. It was maybe about 20 minutes after failing the test. It's a very finite thing – it either does or it doesn't, not a lot of gray area.
SS: For me, it wasn't until we landed in Florida. I had caught a ride home with Ed Brown. Just as we took off, we heard the rumors that they may have failed the stall test. There was no explanation. It's so bad cell reception at Mosport, someone texted and said “stand by.”
Q: Guessing it's certainly not the way you wanted, or envisioned, winning your first race. Still, what are your thoughts on this accomplishment?
JVO: It's a storybook ending, really. We had the fastest car with the fastest race lap. We had a really competitive car – Patron provided huge support as usual – and it was just a great weekend all around. It was so gratifying to get the people congratulating on the 100 starts. The whole weekend went really smoothly. I couldn't be happier to be a part of the whole process. I know how much work Scott's put into making this team competitive, successful.
SS: We've been knocking on the door for a while. The team works so hard. The slope is very high on the competitive curve in GT. This season, we started well with the fastest car at Sebring but got involved in other incidents. We had a very good car at Long beach, finished third. But we scratched out heads from Laguna Seca. It's good we didn't go to Le Mans, because we went hard over those weeks between engineers working and going testing. We've really raised our game.
Q: Scott, you've had wins in Trans-Am, IndyCar, and the height of the P2 era in ALMS. But now to get a GT win, where does that rank for you?
SS: It's hugely rewarding. This culmination is that it's taken longer than I wanted, because I'm a very competitive person. The P2 win came relatively quickly. IndyCar ones and even Trans-Am ones came quickly. This has taken two years longer than my dream. But in actuality, it's about accurate. It defines the competition level and shows how much we needed to bring ourselves up to this point.
Q: With the restrictor increase (0.6mm to 40.6mm) before Lime Rock, how has that improved the performance and was it more evident at Mosport than Lime Rock?
JVO: It was a small change, and based on the calculations, it accounted for maybe two tenths a lap. It's meaningful at this level, but it doesn't make our job easier necessarily.
SS: I'd agree, it was a pretty minor change. But the Ferrari was the only car that really hadn't gotten any breaks – the others got some type of engine or downforce break, and Porsche, for instance, got both at Laguna. All the analytics and calculations showed we could have gotten more, but there was conservative. Corvette has had most top speed. BMW has the most downforce, so at Mosport, so they were slower on the straight because of that.
I think it was done to try to get the Ferrari a little bit caught up.
Overall though, we've been salivating for our first win, getting close, and with our sponsor we thought it would be quite the party. We'll make up for it on win number two.