Young Australian Tom Drewer showed he has more than what it takes to run at the front of the premiere division of IMSA Lites at the Mazda Formula X weekend held at New Jersey’s Thunderbolt raceway near Millville, New Jersey USA.
Drewer, who won the 2008 IMSA Lites 2 Championship, proved he can match and beat the best of the Lites 1 category on Sunday as he set a new Qualifying Track Record around the 2.17 mile road course with the fastest Lites 1 lap of the weekend, 1 minute 15.327 seconds.
The nail biting half hour session saw drivers Lucas Downs, Kyle Marcelli, Joel Feinberg and Johnny Meriggi trade fastest times with Drewer until the Aussie nailed a blistering lap in his Daily Planet machine to take the coveted pole position by a mere .022 of a second, with the top seven cars all within less than .8 of a second apart.
“I knew we had found a much better setup in Saturday’s race but I just couldn’t utilise it, getting stuck behind Meriggi for most of the race.
So I just gave it everything today. I had the car on the edge for three laps in a row and dug ready deep. It was awesome to finally hear ‘P1’ on the radio in only my third race weekend of Lites 1.
The amazing thing was it wasn’t the perfect lap. I had a slight lock-up in turn 5 and that cost me a couple of tenths. I was likely on for a sub 1 minute 15 lap.”
After claiming pole Drewer, who finished 5th in Saturday’s Round 5 race, got off to a perfect start in Sunday’s Round 6 and dominated the first half of the race.
“Last year having class pole in Lites 2 usually meant starting mid-pack, so this was my first rolling start from the front of the grid since karting– we generally do standing starts in Australia.
It was a perfect start and although I had Lucas on the outside of turn 1 I controlled the corner and quickly found my rhythm.
It was fantastic to once again have nothing but clear track in front. The guys behind were pushing really hard but I just kept my head down and led, with a gap, right up to the full course yellow came out with around 20 minutes to go.
My car was starting to go off a little and I found it really difficult to keep the temperature in the tires with the pace car down to 35mph. Upon the restart I just couldn’t seem to find the same grip as in the first half of the race. It was a shame because I immediately slipped back to fourth. I continued to push hard to try and get back onto the podium but we just didn’t quite have the pace.
It was frustrating to finish lower than what we started but I’m really happy we led a lot of laps today. We are very close to podiums and wins now.”
It was the first time Drewer’s team, 2008 IMSA Lites 1 Championship winning Comprent Motor Sports, had led race laps since last year. Drewer’s fourth position is his best result so far in the 2009 IMSA Lites 1 season.
“I really must thank all the boys at Comprent Motor Sports, especially Kenny and Terry, for all their hard work this weekend. We are moving in the right direction and I can’t wait to further reward everyone who is allowing me to follow my dreams. A big thank you to John Trimble and the Daily Planet, Terry Little, all my supporters and friends back home, and my Mother and Father.”
Drewer and IMSA Lites presented by Frisby Performance Tire next head to Lime Rock, Connecticut for the North East Grand Prix, July 17-18, 2009.