GIBSON WINS WIRE TO WIRE AT LIME ROCK, SHEARS HOLDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD LAKEVILLE, CONNECTICUT (JULY 24, 2010) -- In a virtual repeat of last year, Gary Gibson ended a run of bad luck today in Round 9 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites ...
GIBSON WINS WIRE TO WIRE AT LIME ROCK, SHEARS HOLDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
LAKEVILLE, CONNECTICUT (JULY 24, 2010) -- In a virtual repeat of last year, Gary Gibson ended a run of bad luck today in Round 9 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship, winning wire to wire and avoiding the problems suffered by the Championship contenders behind him in the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
Championship leader Charlie Shears, driving the #21 Inspire Motorsports/US Builders DP02, came back to finish 9th after a lengthy pit stop to replace the rear wing, damaged when he was hit from behind in the first turn. The incident was perhaps made worse by the fact that the damage was caused by a charging Jonathan Bennett (#54 Inspire Motorsports/Composite Resources) - Shears' teammate and the Inspire team owner, who ended his day in the turn one tires.
Gibson put his #13 Inspire Motorsports/Perfect Pedal DP02 on the pole this morning and picked up where he left off as the race began, getting out ahead of the incident between his two Inspire Motorsports teammates. But not far from his mind was his first lap incident two weeks ago, which saw him go from pole to out of the race at the green flag when he was hit from behind.
"That's the way it's supposed to go when you're on the pole," said Gibson. "I just went like a scalded dog at the start, I wanted to get out of there. I was able to get a good jump on cold tires and maintain it from there. I didn't see anything behind me - I didn't look up til the third lap! The guys gave me a perfect car, I just had to adjust the sway bar three quarters of the way through. They did a great job putting it back together, the car was basically a pile of parts when we put it on the truck after the last race."
Anthony Nicolosi (#8 Performance Tech/Medical Connections) also picked his way cleanly through turn one and held onto second place for most of the day, losing it only briefly to Matt Downs (#12 Eurosport Racing/Hormel Bacon Bits) - who handed it back to Nicolosi when Downs' DP02 bobbled briefly.
"I had a great start, got on the inside and picked off Charlie before he got hit, so I just wanted to stay with Gary, who gapped me on the cold tires," said Nicolosi. "He kept that gap - he was really strong. The car came off just a touch, I had to adjust the bar and that's when Matt got by me. I was thinking about letting him go, just to save it. But then he broke, and Antonio (Downs) put the pressure on, but I held him off. "
Matt Downs survived an eventful day, coming up through the field to second place, from his sixth place starting position, before suffering an apparently intermittent mechanical issue. Downs was happy, though to have held on to third in the Championship.
"Something broke, maybe I hit too many curbs and wasn't as kind to the car as I should have been!" said Downs. "But the car worked really well, it's just hats off to Gary. I qualified down in sixth - we couldn't compete this morning, but we came back in the race. When Shears went out, I thought, I just have to finish. Third, fourth, fifth, didn't matter, but then the car broke, then it came back, then Shears passed me - I didn't know if he was ahead of me! But it was fun."
Antonio Downs (#4 Eurosport Racing/Lamex Foods) finished third in the race, hanging onto second in the Championship. He and Nicolosi battled coming down the stretch for second place on the podium, Nicolosi managing to stay ahead of Downs.
"Anthony and I had a good battle right there at the end," said Downs. "I might have been a little faster but he was able to keep it in there. So I'll take third!"
Also enduring mechanical issues as well as dealing with the heat and humidity was John Weisberg, nursing his #75 BERG Racing/Redcom West WR100 home for the Lites 2 win.
"The heat wasn't as bad as trying to overcome the difficulties in the car," said Weisberg. "At the 20 minute mark, the throttle was pinned and I was stuck in sixth gear. So I was driving it on the ignition switch. Coming down the front straight, I'd turn the ignition off, get the car slowed down and then turn it back on and try to accelerate in sixth gear, doing both chicanes and the uphill in sixth gear."
The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship features racing between two sports racer prototype classes, Lites 1 and Lites 2, presenting a dimension of competition as drivers must be aware of classes with distinctly different speeds as they navigate the race track. This is the same challenge faced by the drivers of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.
The Championship continues on August 20-22, with Rounds 10 and 11 held in conjunction with the 2010 Road America Showcase in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Follow along on the race weekend at www.litestiming.com, on Facebook and Twitter, and visit www.prototypelites.com for the latest schedule and updates.