At the circuit that will in 6 weeks play host to the season opener of the 2009 IMSA Lites Championship Presented by Frisby Performance Tire, Comprent Motor Sports (the reigning Lites 1 Team Champions) have completed their first pre-season test with their 2009 driver line-up.
Driving Florida’s history rich 3.7 mile Sebring Road Course where Round’s 1 and 2 will take place on 14-15 March during the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring week, were four drivers signed by Comprent for the 2009 Season.
American’s Jonathan Gore (Franklin, TN), Charlie Sheers (Houston, TX) and Wayne Ducote (New Orleans, LA), were joined by Australian and 2008 IMSA Lites 2 Champion Tom Drewer (Adelaide, AUS) for the 2 day test in which Comprent fielded three Panoz Élan DP-02 prototype sports cars, powered by Mazda and using Hankook tyres provided by Frisby Performance Tire.
Jonathan, Charlie and Tom will spearhead the championship assault for Comprent while Wayne will join the team for selected races throughout the 2009 Season with his son David Ducote (New Orleans, LA).
The drivers completed a series of sessions over two days at the Official IMSA Winter Test without incident and Team Owner Kevin Kloepfer was excited by the progress and the promise shown for the season ahead.
“It has been fantastic to have our 2009 line-up here together and I’m ecstatic how well the team and drivers are already working together.
I was extremely happy with the speed Charlie and Jonathan showed and the way Tom has adapted to the Lites 1 car.
There is going to be a great dynamic in the team this year with Tom, Jonathan and Charlie all wanting the title. Last year we ran one car and had one Championship contender. This year we have three.
We have a fantastic team and a strong platform from last year, to develop on. I’m confident we’ll have another Champion at the end of the year.”
Comprent won the 2008 IMSA Lites 1 Championship convincingly, winning nine races with Jonathan Goring (Torrington, CT) at the helm.
Asked how he felt about the 2009 race year Charlie Sheers was positive and looking forward to the season.
“I’m extremely excited racing with Comprent, their knowledge of the car and their support staff makes it a top of the line race team. I hope I can keep up with their pace.”
Tom Drewer was also pleased with how things are shaping up for the 2009.
“It’s great to be back in America and I feel at home with Comprent. I know the competition is going to be tough, especially from within my own team. I don’t know the car as well as the other guys. But, last year I didn’t know the circuits and we won ten races so I know I can do it if I give it my all. I’m getting comfortable in the car and I know the speed will be there for the Sebring opener.”
Comprent hopes Sebring will be a repeat of last year where it claimed the first two rounds of the Lites 1 season.
The next time IMSA Lites Presented by Frisby Performance Tire will roll out on the Florida circuit is Friday, March 13 for official practice preceding Saturday’s Round 1 race and Sunday’s Round 2, 1 hour 15 minute enduro.
Tom Drewer, aged 23, is an up and coming Australian driver who in his first year of North American competition dominated IMSA Lites 2 in 2008, taking the Championship with 11 pole positions, 10 wins, setting 5 lap records, all on unfamiliar circuits. This gave Tom back-to-back Championships across the Pacific after he took the Australian Thundersports Sports Car Championship for West Race Cars in 2007.
Tom’s driving duties were split in 2007 with seats in both the Fujitsu V8 and V8 Giant Supercar Series, the feeder categories to Australia's premier motor racing series, V8 Supercars. Tom made his transition to cars in 2002, driving Formula Vees and winning the FVASA Drivers’ Championship, after a stellar karting career beginning at age 7 and once backed by triple World Champion Nikki Lauda’s airline, Lauda-Air.
Australia’s AutoAction magazine has named Tom ‘Best Overseas Rookie’ in their annual awards while prestigious Wheels magazine has put Tom in their ‘Hot Half Dozen Watch List’ for 2009. Given his pace amongst the Lites 1’s last year including a 2nd overall in Utah, Comprent also think he’s one to watch this year as he tries for their second consecutive Lites 1 Championship.
Comprent Motor Sports, the legendary Athens, GA based team founded by Kevin Kloepfer is a full service racing team with over 20 years of experience.
Comprent has enjoyed countless success in National and Pro-Level open-wheel and sports-car categories including Formula Atlantic, IMSA Lites, Star Mazda, and the Camel Lites GTP Series competing at many of the biggest races throughout America and Canada including the Daytona 24 Hour.
Comprent is the reigning IMSA Lites 1 Team and Drivers’ Champions. These wins add to their 2006 BOSS Historic Formula Championship (IndyCar), 2005 SCCA Sports 2000 National Championship and 1990 SCCA Formula Atlantic National Championship.
From its extensive facilities in North East Georgia, Comprent’s in-house technicians and engineers specialise in preparation, fabrication, machining, transmissions, composites, data acquisition, and driver coaching.
Comprent is Élan Motorsport Technologies’ IMSA Lites customer service representative, the official USA distributor of Elite Racing Transmissions, and agents for Pi Research systems and Bald Spot Sports seat kits.
Tifosi is the official eyewear of Comprent Motor Sports.
IMSA Lites Presented by Frisby Performance Tire is the feeder category to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the premier prototype and GT endurance racing series in the world. Like the ALMS, IMSA Lites features three distinct classes of prototypes from global race-car constructors Élan Motorsport Technologies, West Race Cars and Van Diemen.
The series offers drivers from around the world the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of ALMS team bosses in a multi-class racing environment at famous and historic racing venues such as Sebring, Road America, Road Atlanta, Mosport and Laguna Seca.
Previous Lites 1 Champions Robbie Pecorari and Gerardo Bonilla have gone on to drive in factory Le Mans Series Prototypes.
The Panoz Élan DP-02 Prototype is the official chassis of Lites 1. Built by Élan Motorsports Technologies it is a high-tech purpose-built sports car designed to develop advanced drivers with aspirations of graduating to the next level of professional racing.
The DP-02 features an FIA certified carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, 6-speed sequential ‘no-lift shift’ Hewland gearbox, tunnel-floor, and is powered by a 2.3 Litre, 4-cylinder Mazda MP2 racing engine supplied by Élan Power Products.
Top speed of an Élan DP-02 at most North American circuits is 170 mph, while their average speed is generally well over 110 mph, resulting in Lap times equally as fast or faster than ALMS GT2 cars and Star Mazda.
Article appearing in the CarsGuide section of South Australia's News Limited The Advertiser news paper detailing a trip to my local go-kart club.
Australian race driver Tom Drewer is back in Adelaide for the Christmas-New Year break but will be heading back to the U.S. for another motorsport season.
The 23-year-old is taking a step up to the L1 Category, from the L2 series which he won in his debut U.S. season.
Drewer tested and has now signed with Comprent Motor Sports' IMSA Lites 1 team for the 2009 season.
He recently spent a day back where his motorsport career began, at age seven, at the wheel of a kart at the Southern Go Kart Club's Bolivar circuit... (To continue reading please click on image).
Young South Australian driver Tom Drewer has spent a day back where it all started, the Southern Go Kart Club’s Bolivar raceway, before he heads back to America after being signed with Comprent Motorsports’ IMSA Lites 1 outfit.
It was at the Bolivar raceway, just north of Adelaide, that Drewer first took to the track, then aged 7.
‘It’s amazing to think that only a few years ago I had my first race here, and now I’m racing on some of the world’s most famous tracks including Sebring, Mosport, Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca.
So it’s fantastic to be back on this circuit, and with all the new facilities the club certainly has come a long way- it’s great.
Last year I had to deal with learning a new track every time I went racing, but I can drive this one with my eyes closed. I would have done thousands of laps around here as a kid.
Karting is a great way to keep you’re eye in and I really want to thank Ian Williams Tuning for supplying the kart, and the Southern Go Kart Club for making it all possible.
This time of year is always exciting. It may be the off season, but there is always plenty to do, resetting my goals, working out the best deal for next year, and training and preparing for the season ahead, and I am still in need of more sponsors.
After my first season racing overseas it has also been great to spend some time at home, having Christmas with my family, seeing all my mates and being able to celebrate my championship win with everyone.’
Drewer won the American Le Mans Series’ IMSA Lites 2 Championship last year, dominating the series winning 10 from 12 races and setting 5 track lap records. Australia’s AutoAction magazine has named Drewer ‘Best Overseas Rookie’ in their annual awards while Wheels magazine has put Drewer in their ‘Hot Half Dozen Watch List’ for 2009
‘I’m really excited to announce that I will be returning to America this year to compete and I’ll be stepping up to Lites 1 with the Championship winning team, Comprent Motorsport.’
‘After weighing up several options and series, I feel this is the next logical step in my international career and to progressing towards my driving Prototypes in the Le Mans Series, and winning the Le Mans 24 Hour outright.’
Interestingly the only Australian to ever achieve this feat is fellow South Australian, former karter and long time supporter of Tom Drewer, Vern Schuppan who won the world’s most gruelling Sportscar race driving for Porsche.
And what does Drewer say to all the young aspiring racing drivers out there?
‘Follow your dreams, and never give up. Go out and buy a go-kart, you never know where you’ll end up.’