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ESM Exploring 2015 Options

Extreme Speed Motorsports evaluating prototype options for 2015…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

While they remain fully committed to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for this year, Extreme Speed Motorsports is already looking ahead to the possibilities for 2015, including the likelihood of the Florida-based squad upgrading its P2 machinery to a new-generation model.

Speaking to Sportscar365, team owner/driver Scott Sharp confirmed discussions are underway with Honda Performance Development to purchase the all-new HPD ARX-04b for next year, while also not ruling out other new prototype offerings as well.

“We’re looking at all of our options right now,” Sharp told Sportscar365. “There are a bunch of coupes out there and we’re certainly looking at [the HPD ARX-04b]. Nick Wirth’s done a great job. If you think about our cars, which the base is actually seven years old, and it’s still pretty competitive.

“Definitely over the years, of Patron and myself being involved with [HPD] for so long, it certainly builds some confidence and trust in them. We certainly have to look at the new car.”

Sharp hasn’t hidden his team’s desire of one day competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with ESM having explored options to contest the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic for the last two years, but neither materializing due to various reasons.

If they do commit to Le Mans for next year, look for it to be with new LMP2 machinery.

“We’re in the middle of analyzing all that right now,” Sharp said. “Obviously if Le Mans would be in our plans for 2015, you’d have to have a new car. And if other people are running coupes in the TUDOR Championship, I think you would probably need a new car as well.”

Despite the ongoing DP/P2 Balance of Performance debate in the TUDOR Championship, Sharp says they plan to remain with the P2 platform. Whether that means means a long-term commitment to prototype racing in America, or a potential switch abroad, is unclear at this point.

“WEC seems very interesting. But saying that, we’re committed to the TUDOR Championship right now,” Sharp said. “Obviously Patron sponsors the North American Endurance Cup, so we’re clearly committed to the TUDOR Championship at the moment.”

Sharp, however, is hopeful the proposed ACO/IMSA common prototype regulations for 2017 does materialize, which could open up even more possibilities for the team in the future.

“I hope we can get to the point of having a global spec of prototypes, so everyone would have the ability to race anywhere they want,” he said. “How great would it be to be able to race in Asia, in Europe, in TUDOR and for the European guys to race TUDOR as well. It would be incredible prototype racing. Rules-wise, I’m really hoping that will happen.

“We’ve always been about trying to win championships and still are right now but this is expensive racing.

“But let’s say you have a sponsor that maybe doesn’t care about every market in a particular schedule. You could theoretically pick the markets that are important for that sponsor and put together a pretty incredible schedule, choosing from three or four different series.”

The team heads to next month’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix sixth and seventh in the Prototype standings for its pair of HPD ARX-03bs driven by Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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