Charlie Shears won his third race of the season wire to wire to extend his Lites 1 championship lead, while John Weisberg came back from a weekend of mechanical woes to win Lites 2 in Round 12 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship, part of the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport.
Just because it was a win from the pole does not mean it was easy – and Shears, driving the #21 CORE autosport/US Builders Élan DP02, couldn’t help but consider the task ahead in tomorrow’s Round 13, a 75-minute endurance race, as he tried to keep the other championship contenders behind him during the 24 lap, caution-free event.
“Wow, it was intense out there!” said Shears. “The traffic made it a different sort of race altogether. Matt (Downs) was in my rear view mirror and then all of the sudden, my teammate (Gary Gibson) is back there and I thought, uh, oh, Gary’s coming! I just told myself, go about your game plan, hit your marks, keep your foot in it and try not to make any mistakes. We did a good job of that today. And tomorrow, a 75-minute race on this track? It’s a whole different game tomorrow.”
Teammate Gary, starting third in the #13 CORE autosport/Perfect Pedal DP02, lost contact with Downs (#12 Eurosport Racing/Hormel Bacon Bits) at the start, but made up the distance and got on his bumper long enough to make the gutsy pass in turn eight.
“Matt got away from me on the start and it took me a long time to get back to him,” said Gibson. “I got a good drive out of turn five and got alongside him and said, ‘we’re going into this turn side by side and I’m not lifting.’ I went around the outside - I didn’t think you could pass there, but it worked! I started catching Charlie, but we were running the same lap times and I couldn’t see any way by him. I gave it everything I had, but our cars are just too equal!”
Matt Downs, third in the championship behind brother Antonio, finished third while Lucas Downs (#79 Eurosport Racing/Sam’s Club) finished fourth and Antonio Downs (#4 Eurosport Racing/Lamex Foods) finished fifth.
John Weisberg (#75 BERG Racing/Redcom) was happy to start his West WR1000 in third spot in Lites 2 after surviving mechanical issues that included an engine fire during the morning qualifying session. Winning the event was more than he expected.
“Thursday, the car was broken in all three sessions,” said Weisberg, “and again in both practice sessions Friday. We had a total of maybe 10 laps going into qualifying, then caught fire during qualifying. My guys thrashed right up until grid, so I owe it all to them, giving me a good car for the race. (Toronto native and Lites 2 pole sitter) Rob Sabato was really quick but bobbled in turn 10, so I got by him.”
Windsor, Ontario native Michal Chlumecky, driving the #30 CGI-DeAngelis/Contract Glaziers West WR1000, started second in Lites 2 behind teammate Sabato and was happy to finish third after missing much of the season.
“It was awesome,” said Chlumecky. “I had a good start, but John had a fabulous start, diving in there and getting by me. The first couple of laps were great, until I started having gearbox, then engine issues. I just tried to nurse it in and keep everyone behind me and hold Lee off, but I couldn’t. I got a good start, I’m happy with that, so in light of the circumstances, I had a great time!”
Lites 2 championship leader, Lee Alexander (#23 Factory 48 Motorsports/APE Raceparts) finished second.
The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship features racing between two sports racer prototype classes, Lites 1 and Lites 2, presenting a dimension of competition as drivers must be aware of classes with distinctly different speeds as they navigate the race track. This is the same challenge faced by the drivers of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Round 13, a 75-minute endurance race that will include a four minute pit stop, will take place Sunday at 1:00 pm EDT. The Championship concludes with Rounds 14 and 15 at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, September 29 through October 2. Follow along on the race weekend at www.litestiming.com, on Facebook and Twitter and visit www.prototypelites.com for the latest schedule and updates.