Lites: Tom Drewer weekend summary

Drewer strong at Sebring. Tom Drewer, the 2008 IMSA Lites 2 Champion, made a solid transition to the Lites 1 class at Rounds 1 and 2 of the IMSA Lites Championship Presented by Frisby Performance Tire, as part of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring...

Drewer strong at Sebring.

Tom Drewer, the 2008 IMSA Lites 2 Champion, made a solid transition to the Lites 1 class at Rounds 1 and 2 of the IMSA Lites Championship Presented by Frisby Performance Tire, as part of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Event, Florida USA.

Throughout the weekend's practice sessions the young up-and-coming Australian, who dominated the Lites 2 class last year winning ten races in his first year of competition in America, hovered near the top of the time sheets and despite brake over-heating issues took his number 1 Daily Planet Racing / Comprent Motor Sports car to strong finishes in both races, 11th in Race 1 and 7th in the 1 hour 15 minute endurance event.

Drewer is running the number 1 plate signifying his Lites 2 Championship win and the fact that Comprent are reigning Lites 1 Team Champions.

"We were immediately around the pace and after P3 (practice session 3) I felt very positive about the speed we showed. We were third fastest for quite some time and I brought the car in relatively early, feeling I still had a little up my sleeve for qualifying."

Drewer finished practice three 5th fastest completing only around half of the number of laps as compared to the other front-runners. Continues...

"Qualifying didn't exactly go to plan, though we still made it into the top- ten. We had a random glitch in the car as I arrived at the form-up grid. We got dispensation to fix it and start the session from pit-lane. The team did a tremendous job to solve the issues and get the car out before 1 lap had even been completed.

As I left pit-lane I received a pit-lane speed violation, something that over half the field received throughout the session. It turns out the rule change in where the car's timing transponder is mounted made it possible for you to switch off the speed-limiter as the front wheels passed the control-line and still have the car technically speeding by the time the transponder passed the control-line.

Then just as I got some clear track my fire extinguisher became faulty- never mind it was brand new- and I had foam spraying all over my visor as I turned through turns 4, 10, 13 and 16."

Drewer started Round 1 in 9th position and after a blinding start, which saw him as high as 7th, he had to settle for eleventh while managing overheating brakes.

"I got an amazing start. I think I jumped two rows and as I came into turn 1, I was sandwiched between my team-mates Charlie (Sheers) and Jonathan (Gore). As we approached the corner I started to get squeezed on both sides- we were actually all touching. All I could picture in my mind was three Comprent cars in the wall on the first lap of the first race of the season. That's no way to win a Championship and I backed out.

After that I ran slightly wide into turn seven but recovered and then my brake pedal got longer and longer as my brakes began to overheat. I pushed as hard as I could but I had to be a little careful with the brakes. It was a shame to finish slightly lower than what we started but a fantastic feeling to finish my first race in an IMSA Lites 1 car.

In the Endurance race, Round 2, I got another great start, which was important as I started in 12th position. Even though the race was longer I just tried to push as hard as I could the whole way. Unfortunately the brakes began to overheat again and it was a case of balancing how hard I could push and managing the brakes.

When I came into the pits for the fuel stop brake dust went everywhere and with the amount of heat haze and smoke coming from the front rotors I thought they were on fire.

After the stop the brakes came back for a while before I had to manage them again. I could push for a few corners and then I would have to ease my pace. Still, I caught up to sixth and seventh place. Every time I pushed just a little harder to get closer the brakes were locking and overheating and the pedal got longer and I lost a few tenths. It was quite difficult to manage but I eventually passed (Jon) Brownson for 7th, around the outside through the fast turn 1."

The results are impressive given Drewer has only spent limited time in Lites 1 car over the off-season while the majority of the opposition are going into their second or third year of driving in Lites 1.

"This has been a really positive result. Sure it would have been fantastic to repeat last year's success in Lites 2 and take out both rounds here at Sebring, but I'm really happy with the pace we showed and the strong top- ten result in the endurance event.

A couple of mechanical glitches probably prevented us from an even better result but as they say, 'that's motor racing'.

It's just fantastic to be back here at Sebring racing for my second year in America.

I really want to thank everyone back home for again supporting me this year. I have had amazing support yet again from friends and family. I would especially like to thank John Trimble and the Daily Planet for their continued support this year.

I feel really comfortable here with Comprent. The team is so professional and well equipped. I think it's going to be a great year and I can't wait for Utah."

Drewer and IMSA Lites head to Miller Motorsport Park, Utah for Rounds 3 and 4 on May 15-17.

-credit: tb

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Series IMSA Others
Drivers Tom Drewer