The track records fell quickly in qualifying this morning, with both the Lites 1 and Lites 2 pole sitters setting new fast marks heading into today’s Round 12 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship, part of the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport.
Charlie Shears, leading the Lites 1 championship, battled with Matt Downs (#12 Eurosport Racing/Hormel Bacon Bits) and Antonio Downs (#4 Eurosport Racing/Lamex Foods) early in the session, with each taking turns on the top spot. When the dust settled, Shears, driving the #21 CORE autosport/US Builders Élan DP02, had the pole and a new track record of 1:15.875, eclipsing the old record by more than half a second.
“This track’s a maneater,” said Shears. “There are three critical turns, I think – turns one, two and eight. Turn one is important, obviously, then going into two it’s a gutsy, downhill, off camber turn, but you’ve got to stay in it. If you stay in it, the car grabs midway down the hill and you’ll get hooked up. Turn eight is a question of how deep you’ll go in before you have to let up - you’ve really got to trust the car.
“The car was the best it’s been all weekend. We were able to save the tires so hopefully we can use that rubber for the race and things will hold up.”
Toronto native Robert Sabato, who considers Mosport his home track, had only Thursday’s test sessions and Friday practices to figure out his new ride, the #22 CGI-DeAngelis Racing West WR1000 in Lites 2. And Sabato had more than his share of adventures on his way to the pole position and a new track record (1:19.515, beating the old record by half a second) in his first event.
“I went out on new tires and I thought I was flying, but my gauges weren’t working,” said Sabato. “So I came in, because I had no radio, and they told me I was a second and a half behind the pole. So I went back out, tried to go really hard and spun - I came back in because I thought there was something wrong with the car. But they said, no, it’s you! So I decided I was going to do three laps and try to go for it. And I got a break: I did the first lap and got the tires hot and it was like the clouds parted - the track cleared, everybody was off! I had a clear track and pushed just a little bit harder - but I didn’t expect a track record!”
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.
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.