Drewer caps off Championship with brilliant Endurance result at Laguna Seca. Tom Drewer has finished his first year of racing in North America just the way he started, with another win at a circuit he'd never been to before. The young rising ...
Drewer caps off Championship with brilliant Endurance result at Laguna Seca.
Tom Drewer has finished his first year of racing in North America just the way he started, with another win at a circuit he'd never been to before.
The young rising Australian driver made it ten wins from twelve races after taking Lites L2 Class honours in the 1 hour and 15 minute endurance race at Laguna Seca on Sunday, the finale of the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship presented by Hankook.
The weekend capped off a stellar international debut for Drewer, 23, who added yet more North American track lap class records to his Championship winning season.
Drewer and his Daily Planet WEST set a new qualifying class record of 1:24.182 to gain L2 Class pole and 12th overall around the famous Californian circuit on Friday. He then went on to win the L2 class in the 30 minute sprint race on Saturday, setting a new race lap record on his way to 10th place overall. However, it was in his first ever endurance drive which Drewer yet again showed his maturity not to mention pace amongst the faster L1 cars, again setting a new class race lap record.
"Everyone told me just to go out and have some fun this weekend after we wrapped up the L2 Championship at Petit Le Mans two weekends ago. But, in some ways I think there was more pressure to perform and finish the year with the same consistency as I started with.
Like every track, with the exception of Road Atlanta, Laguna was a completely new playground this weekend. It is very unforgiving and because of that I set a series of progressive goals. From practice, to qual, to race 1, my Daily Planet Racing/WEST Race Cars team went about ticking those boxes off. It was not about being conservative, but simply measured and doing what we needed to do when we needed to do it.
The Endurance race threw a lot of unknowns into the mix. We have never raced for that length of time on the Hankook tyres and never before had we been required to complete a pit stop or refuelling.
We started the Endurance in 12th overall and I knew the long race distance and mandatory re-fuelling pit stop would reward a consistent pace. There was no point in risking the car early on to gain minimal track position.
I set about achieving a good rhythm and pace in the car early on. Jake and my WEST team had near perfect timing on our pit stop- a full course yellow came out about half way through.
Then on the restart I had Jarrett Boon (Elan L1) dive down the outside of me into turn 2. It was the second time this weekend that he'd turned into me. I don't know why he thought he was going to get around me- even with the extra torque of the L1. I brushed him off until the safety car came out again 4 corners later and really that was that. It was a procession under full course yellow until the chequered flag came out.
It was a shame to end the season under yellow but I think Terry Dale, the Race Director, made a great call. If we'd gone green for a lap I think it would have been on for young and old- probably half the field off at turn 2 and the rest off at the corkscrew.
I'm ecstatic to achieve yet another win here in America and another strong performance for WEST race cars amongst the more powerful L1s. We surpassed our goal of a top ten overall result, finishing sixth."
The race was won overall by Joel Feinberg (Elan L1).
"I really have to thank WEST, Eric Vassian, Jake Randels, Kevin Takalo, Dan Jang and Randy Aust for all their effort this year.
I couldn't have done any of this without the support of John Trimble and the Daily Planet back in Melbourne, Australia, the belief of my manager Terry Little and all the sacrifices my mother and father, Jacquie and Mike Drewer have had to make. I also have to thank all those listed on my website and who's messages I carry on the rear bodywork of my car. I couldn't have achieved any of this without you. I can never thank you enough."
Drewer's results at Laguna Seca means that he has won at every track he's competed at this year in the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship and now holds five lap records in North America. His Championship win also means he has now taken back-to-back Championships across the Pacific, after dominating the Australian AMRS Thundersports Sportscar Series last year. Drewer is hoping that it is this consistency and speed that will progress him to the next phase of his international career.
"We are currently in discussion with teams in a few different categories. I'm excited by some of the opportunities and I hope that I can gain the necessary corporate support to further my career here in America next year. As they say, 'watch this space'."
GT3 Cup: Alex Job Racing Laguna Seca weekend summary
Lites: Tom Drewer IMSA Lites L1 test notes