PROTOTYPE LITES PODIUM FINISH FOR COMPRENT MOTORSPORTS AT SEBRING
Former series champion begins 2011 with Gore visiting podium in Florida
ATHENS, GA. (March 25, 2011) – Comprent Motorsports’ return to full-time Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship action proved to be a great success, with the former series champion earning a podium finish and setting the fastest race lap this past week (March 17-18) at Sebring International Raceway. Jonathan Gore led the charge for the three-car outfit from Georgia, narrowly missing a podium finish in Round One, before leading in Round Two en route to a third place result with the fastest race lap. Ben Searcy, in his series and class debut, showed good speed and skill finishing seventh and ninth, while Tim Vito was among the Masters class front-runners, coming home an 11th and 13th in central Florida.
As planned, the start of the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring season-opening doubleheader event featured the Comprent Motorsports squad working on fine tuning the L1 class spec Elan DP02 cars for the fast and bumpy Sebring road course during the promoters test sessions and the lone practice run. The end result was all three racers gaining speed and getting more comfortable each time they got behind the wheel.
When qualifying commenced on Thursday morning (March 17), the stage was set for Gore and Searcy to challenge for top overall honors, and Vito poised to be among those leading the Masters class contingent. Things however didn’t go quite as planned, with all three unable to post the flying lap they desired. In the end, Gore earned a row three starting position with the fifth best time, Searcy – battling an ill-handling car due to a broken sway bar - posted the 13th quickest lap, and Vito was classified 15th.
Putting the session behind them, and refocusing on the task at hand…Round One, the Comprent Motorsports trio and crew were excited to get back on-track a short time later for the first race of the 2011 season. When the green flag waved it immediately became apparent that all three racers were ready to strut their stuff. The Comprent Motorsports cars, despite two full-course cautions halting the action, worked their way forward as the race progressed, with all three drivers showing great racecraft. When the checkered flag waved after 13 laps, Gore was leading the Comprent contingent, narrowly missing a podium start to his season with a fourth place finish. Piloting the No. 50 Combustion Technologies.Comprent Motorsports/ZSports Midwest car, Searcy was nearly as impressive, advancing six places in his prototype racing debut. Vito continued the march up the scoresheet in Round One, steering his No. 57 Second Harvest Foods/Comprent Motorsports car to 11th place, third among the Masters racers.
Returning to the historic Florida track one day later, the goal for the Comprent Motorsports drivers in Round Two was to build on the solid race one outing. Gore, having continually with Crew Chief Mike Davies to better the No. 14 Comprent Motorsports entry, did just that. Starting P4, the former open-wheel race winner was immediately part of the fight for the lead when the green flag waved. Taking over the top spot by lap three, it appeared he was headed for the race win until he pushed a little to hard, resulting in a lazy spin off-course. Able to rejoin the action unscathed, he ultimately took the checkered flag in third place, setting the fastest race lap (2:02.471) of the event in the process. Searcy meanwhile was engaged in heated multi-car fight for position from start-to-finish, resulting in a ninth place finish, giving the former F2000 Championship Series Rookie of the Year two solid top-10s in his first series outing. Vito likewise battled for position lap after lap, eventually taking the checkered flag in 11th place.
Comprent Motorsports’ chase for top honors in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship now takes a lengthy break, with Rounds Three and Four not scheduled until July 8-9, at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.