Article appearing in The Advertiser newspaper. "Adelaide race driver Tom Drewer has risen from 7th to equal 5th in the IMSA Lites Championship after Rounds 7 and 8 at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut- part of the American Le Mans Series.
Drewer described the "rough-and-tumble" weekend as frustrating. In the first practise session, Drewer was inside the top six when an incident with a Lites 2 car caused damage to his Daily Planet Elan DP-02."
Article appearing in the July 25 edition of Australia's Auto Action Magazine. "Tom Drewer had a consistent run in last weekend's IMSA Lites round at Lime Rock, finishing fifth in the first race and seventh in the second to move to fifth in the L1 Championship."
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Australian Tom Drewer has moved from 7th to equal 5th in the 2009 IMSA Lites Championship presented by Frisby Performance Tire after Round’s 7 & 8 at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, as part of the American Le Mans Series’ North East Grand Prix.
Drewer described the ‘rough and tumble’ weekend as one of “frustration” which almost ended in heartache before it had really even begun.
In the first practice session Drewer looked strong and was inside the top-six when an incident with a Lites 2 car left Drewer’s Daily Planet Élan DP-02 with heavy damage, including a broken front upright, and his weekend potentially in tatters.
“I was behind my team-mate from last year, Eric Vassian, in a West. After both slowing to pass a stricken car before the last corner we both began accelerating onto the main straight towards the next flag point.
As I approached him on the straightaway I caught him just as his car rapidly decelerated for a second time. I’m not sure if he had a problem. In the video it looks like he lost power. It took me completely by surprise- we were on a flat-out straightaway. I tried to avoid him, but I had nowhere to go. I turned but just couldn’t react fast enough to get the left front corner out of the way.
I couldn’t believe it. It was a devastating blow because it really disadvantaged us. Lime Rock is a very condensed two-day schedule. There is very little time between sessions and we had heavy damage to contend with.
The Comprent team did a great job to get me out for the second session, but we never got the car back on the flat-patch. I was instructed to take the session tentatively in case there was further damage sustained we didn’t know about. I had a fair bit of play in the steering box and a cocked steering wheel.
We weren’t worried about only being P10 in the session because we had qualifying to go and we had chosen not to put on new rubber like most of the guys in-front of us but, due to the weather, that proved to be a costly decision.”
During the American Le Mans Series session, 45 minutes prior to the scheduled IMSA Lites qualifying session a Severe Weather Warning was issued for Lime Rock and the entire surrounding area. Like storms of the previous day, thunder, heavy rain, hail and winds of up to 70mph were expected.
IMSA stopped the ALMS session short, and even though only light rain was falling, abandoned Lites qualifying declaring the session would become another practice and combined practice times would decide the grid for race 1.
“The rain came, but it wasn’t the down-pour they expected. However, it left the track wet enough for rain tyres and meant practice 2 times would be the day’s fastest. I had no way of putting in a lap to better my grid position. It was very frustrating.”
In Race One, Drewer made an amazing start and rocketed from tenth to six by the first corner, passing team-mate Charlie Sheers who had started 6th on the grid.
“It was a really tough aggressive race. We were all lapping around the same pace and battling it out. I found myself in fourth place when the safety car came out.
On the restart I had both teammates behind me. As we barrelled into Turn 1 Jonathan Gore dived on both Charlie and I but couldn’t make it stick. We battled it out for the rest of the race, and unfortunately I was behind both of them at the chequered flag, in 5th place.”
Race Two again saw Drewer make a great start from tenth on the grid.
“Race One was so intense I don’t think I ever had a clean lap, and that put me a little further back on the Race Two grid.
Again I got a great start and found myself in around seventh by the first corner, this time behind Charlie. The car felt good and the leaders just kept falling off the track. I was looking like I was on for fourth or possibly even third.
On around lap 7 it felt like something let go in the left rear corner. It started to sag around right-handers. I radioed the team and said I would proceed with caution. The rear was falling over itself and producing a lot of over-steer. It was like driving a sprint car. I couldn’t maintain my pace and started to fall into the clutches of the cars behind. Then one of the leaders fell off and brought out the safety car.
Just after the restart the two cars in front of me made heavy contact into turn 1 and spun. I had to lock-it all up to avoid contact with them, but that left the door open for a couple of cars to go by.
It was a real shame. Until the car had issues I thought we were knocking on the door of a podium. In the end I had to settle for 7th, struggling to just bring it home.”
Post race inspection revealed extremely heavy blistering and on both rear tyres of Drewer’s Daily Planet machine.
“There was almost no rubber left on the middle of the rear tires. The team is yet to determine if that was the cause or effect of the miss-handling car, or if something else broke. Looking at them I think I was really lucky to finish at all.
At least we kept hauling points. I gave it my all but it just wasn’t our weekend. I’m just glad it’s over and I can’t wait to get to Road America to make up for it.”
Despite the weekend’s frustrations Drewer still collected valuable Championship points and now sits equal fifth with Gary Gibson, within striking distance of team-mate Jonathan Gore in fourth.
2009 IMSA Lites Championship – Current Points Score
1 | Matt Downs 130pts
2 | Joel Feinberg 127pts
3 | Lucas Downs 110pts
4 | Jonathan Gore 84pts
5 | TOM DREWER 80pts
= | Gary Gibson 80pts
Tom Drewer’s next event is the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at the famous Road America circuit, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 14-16.
Coming off the back of his best performance of the year, the young American Le Mans Series hopeful Tom Drewer is looking forward to Round’s 7 & 8 of the IMSA Lites Championship at this weekend’s North East Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut.
At last month’s stand alone Mazda Formula-X event the Australian hot-shot took his first pole position for 2009, setting a new qualifying lap record for New Jersey’s Thunderbolt raceway with what proved to be the fastest lap of the weekend.
It was also his first pole position in the Lites 1 category, which he moved to this year after winning the 2008 IMSA Lites 2 Championship in only his first year of competition in North America.
Asked whether he was possibly inspired by a recent test in the Panoz Team PTG Esperante American Le Mans GT2 car at Summit point raceway Drewer said,
“That was certainly a positive experience, but I think it was about time we put the Daily Planet car back up where it belongs. I’m very committed to progressing to the next level. I’ve been working hard with the guys at Comprent (Drewer’s Lites 1 team) and it’s paying off.
It was great at New Jersey to take the green from the front and to have clear air in front, leading the pack, even if the car went away a little after the restart. It was frustrating that we finished off the podium in fourth.
This year I’ve had the challenge of a new car, with no testing, and Lites 1 is very competitive, after all most of these guys have lots of experience in these cars and on these circuits. But this is the junior category to the American Le Mans Series and tough competition is why I came to America.
We showed in New Jersey we have what it takes. We proved we have the speed.
I know a win is just around the corner now and I want to be the one to get Comprent’s first win of the year.
I think it should be a great weekend at Lime Rock. It’s a beautiful part of the world. I can’t wait to get back into the car and keep the momentum of New Jersey going. I’m at one with the car now, and I’m more determined than ever. I’m ready to rock’n'roll!”
Drewer’s determination and results are being noticed too. Drewer was recently pencilled in as a future Le Mans Winner. Drewer’s name was included in a cartoon by world-renowned motorsport cartoonist John ‘Stonie’ Stoneham for Auto Action magazine suggesting he will one day follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen David Brabham who won this year’s 24 Hour with Peugeot.
This comes after he was named by Auto Action magazine as Australia’s ‘Best Rookie Overseas’ following his stellar performance in 2008 and was also included in Australia’s Wheels Magazine’s Hot Half Dozen watch list.
Drewer makes his first appearance on the Lime Rock circuit at 10:40am EST Friday, July 17. Qualifying will occur later that day, while Race 1 and 2 will be on Saturday, July 18.