Jake Thompson returns to the podium at Road America Calgary's Jake Thompson returned to the podium at Round 8 of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup this past weekend at Road America with an exciting 3rd place finish. Having taken home a top 5 the...
Jake Thompson returns to the podium at Road America
Calgary's Jake Thompson returned to the podium at Round 8 of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup this past weekend at Road America with an exciting 3rd place finish. Having taken home a top 5 the day before during Round 7, Thompson has put himself in an excellent position to challenge for the Championship during the season ending double header in Puebla, Mexico next month.
The long straights and fast corners at the 4 mile Wisconsin road course always results in exciting racing, but I don't think anyone expected the weekend to be this exciting. The 25 TDI Cup drivers had their hands full right from the first practice session, where the track was damp and blanketed in a thick fog. The conditions virtually negated any meaningful practice, putting an extra emphasis on getting up to speed quickly during qualifying 1. Thompson was able to qualify 5th for Saturday's race, despite feeling that he had left something on the table.
As the drivers prepared for Qualifying 2 on Friday afternoon, the dark clouds began to roll towards Road America, and everyone was waiting for the eventual downpour. The cars hit the track with slick tires on, and everyone scrambled to quickly post a fast time. Lady luck would not be on Thompson's side however, as a virtual monsoon hit during his 2nd timed lap. Several drivers were able to complete their second lap, and the added heat in their tires provided an advantage over those who had gone around just once, leaving Thompson down in 10th on the grid.
The real action though would of course be during the races, as the massive draft would keep the field together with drivers swapping positions almost at will. During Saturday's Race 1 Thompson would be a victim of a tap from behind during the opening lap, and while jerking the wheel in an attempt to save his spinning car, he would actually dislocate his shoulder. Pulling back on track in 11th place, Thompson threw his arm back into its socket without letting off the gas, and despite the throbbing shoulder set to work recovering positions. By the end of 11 hard laps, he had recovered all the way to 5th position. It also provided some extra confidence going into Sunday, knowing that he could work his way through the pack.
Sunday's race is being described by many as the best in the 3 year history of the TDI Cup. From his 10th grid position, Thompson would immediately start working his way towards the front. Midrace he found himself just ahead of his draft partner from Qualifying Chris Wehrheim, and the two would proceed to push their way towards the front. On the last lap, Thompson was able to draft by two cars heading into Turn 5 to grab the second position. Wehrheim would follow him through, and then get a great draft down the back straight to grab the 2nd position away, leaving Thompson to follow him home in 3rd. Although disappointed to lose a spot in the last couple corners, it was still an excellent finish from 10th on the grid, and a thrilling race. "That was definitely the most fun I have had in a race car" he said afterwards "I think I went from 10th, to 3rd, then fell back to 6th, then up as far as 2nd all in 12 laps. It is special to be on the podium here at Road America. Not only because of the history, but because this place really bit me last year so it feels good to come back and tame it so to speak".
The results leave Thompson 3rd in the championship standings, just 2 points back of second and only a handful out of the lead. With the TDI Cup heading to Mexico next month for the series ending double header, the title race is still wide open, and Thompson will be doing everything he can to bring home the Championship. This podium finish at Road America meant 33 laps were added towards Racing for the Right To Play. With the pledge amount currently at $52.95/lap, over $1700 was raised last weekend, bringing the season total over $8000. Thompson's #19 VW Jetta will be proudly displaying the names of everyone who offered their support to Right To Play on the hood during the final rounds next month in Puebla, so make sure to visit www.jakethompson.ca/righttoplay to find out how you can get involved.