Lites: Tom Drewer Lime Rock event summary

Drewer moves to 5th in Championship despite 'rough and tumble' of Lime Rock. 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, ...

Drewer moves to 5th in Championship despite 'rough and tumble' of Lime Rock.

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.

-credit: tomdrewer.com

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IMSA Others
Drivers Eric Vassian , Gary Gibson , Jonathan Gore , Tom Drewer