Extreme Speed Motorsports team owner Scott Sharp raved about his team’s first dip into the FIA World Endurance Championship last weekend, as the team ramps up preparation for its next FIA WEC appearance at Shanghai later this year.
The downside, from a North American standpoint, is the decision to forego Petit Le Mans, which also serves as the conclusion to the four-race Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup this season.
“Patron sponsors that, so we’re committed to that [sponsorship] and [the NAEC races] for next year,” Sharp told Sportscar365. “Doing the WEC race [at COTA] is great but it doesn’t really teach us anything. We’re operating out of the same trailer here.
“It is good to get a race in on the Dunlops. But we need to learn and if we’re doing Le Mans, we need a race before that, we have to prep ourselves. And not too many guys have done [Le Mans] before.
“We’re out of the [TUDOR Championship, we’re out of a top-three finish, so whether you finish fourth or sixth doesn’t really matter. I felt that if we pounded around for 10 hours, what are we really going to gain?”
The team picked Shanghai, Sharp said, because Brazil was impossible, Japan too early, and Bahrain didn’t offer a chance to run Patron signage on the car.
Other than a shifting of resources to focus the No. 1 car in the TUDOR Championship to become the No. 30 HPD ARX-03b in the FIA WEC last weekend at Circuit of the Americas, an international race would provide better preparation for whatever program the team decides to undertake in 2015.
Dropping from 10 hours of racing down to six as they will in Shanghai also played a factor.
“So why don’t we instead take those resources, and take that step as a team and learn,” Sharp said.
Sharp and co-drivers Ryan Dalziel and Ed Brown walked away with a podium finish in the team’s FIA WEC debut last weekend, which undoubtedly bodes well for the future.
“WEC is very impressive,” he said. “There’s the professionalism, the politeness of everybody, the mannerisms, from handling the driver meetings to running the process through tech, the garages, and the marketing side.”
While Sharp and ESM are yet to confirm a full-season program in either the FIA WEC or the TUDOR Championship, the plan includes at least six races overall.
That would feature the four TPNAEC races in the TUDOR Championship, and at least two FIA WEC races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a pre-Le Mans 2015 FIA WEC race to be determined.