New APR MK6 VW GTi
APR Motorsport presents Australian racing star Tom Drewer and the return of Stephen Hooks to Grand Am to drive in the historic international racing debut of the VW DriverGear MK6 Volkswagen GTi. Drewer and Hooks will drive in Round 3 of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, a 2 hour 30 minute endurance race, at Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama (April 8-10).
APR Motorsport returns to Barber, the team’s home track, after last year’s win in the #171 MK5 GTi driven by Ian Baas and MESCO Rookie of the Year Josh Hurley. Ian has moved up in class to pilot APR Motorsport’s Audi S4 in Grand Sport for the 2010 season. Josh Hurley returns with new co-driver Kevin Stadtlander, now in the VW DriverGear #181 MK5 GTi, to fight for the win alongside team mates Tom Drewer and Stephen Hooks in the new MK6 GTi and Mike Sweeney and Mike Halpin who return last year’s winning #171 GTi.
After a nearly 10 year hiatus from professional racing, Stephen Hooks, President and CEO of APR, LLC, returns to Grand Am for the unveiling of the new GTi. Stephen last appeared in 2001 in a now 3 generations old Audi S4 which he drove in the Grand Am Cup, the predecessor to the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. When asked about why he has been missing in action for so long, Stephen replied, “The last 10 years have been a time in my life where I have focused heavily on the restructuring and further development of APR, LLC. We have seen our staff grow tremendously, we’ve built a brand new purpose built engineering facility, rapidly expanded our road going car product line, increased our distribution to over 40 countries and 250 retailers and most recently, began 2 new race teams. I’ve never lost my passion for driving and I am thankful for the opportunity to return with more resources, more talent and more support.” Stephen has participated in several tests the last couple of years with APR Motorsport and is a primary provider of feedback to the technical staff regarding the cars’ performance. Stephen’s typical race day activities include team strategy however, the upcoming event at Barber finds him behind the wheel with a perfect opportunity to for a good showing with co-driver Tom Drewer. The entire APR Motorsport Team is excited for Stephen as it’s obvious from his testing laps he’s never lost his edge.
“I feel very honored to be given the responsibility of the world racing debut of the new MK6 Volkswagen GTi along with Stephen,” Tom Drewer said.
The race will also be Drewer’s first in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and his first for the Alabama based APR Motorsport, the competition arm of the highly regarded aftermarket performance product company APR. “You could say I’ve been thrown into the deep end- there are many firsts this weekend. It will be the first race for the new VW MK6 GTi, my first time with APR, my first race at Barber, and my first weekend in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Hopefully we can add another first to the list by the end of the weekend.”
But while a rookie to the series, Tom has no shortage of experience behind the wheel, or that of a Volkswagen. Prior to heading to North America Drewer sampled the high horsepower of the Australian Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series while also competing in light-weight high down-force prototypes as the factory driver for West Race Cars Australia.
Drewer won the 2007 Thundersports Sports Car Championship and was offered a drive by West in the American IMSA Prototype Lites Series, where he dominated the Lites 2 category winning 10 from 12 races and the 2008 Championship. Last year, 2009, Drewer competed in the Prototype Lites 1 category and successfully tested both the American Le Mans Series Challenge car (LMPC) and a Panoz GT2 car. However, it was in the beginning of his career when Drewer found his love for VW’s.
“I’m an absolute Volkswagen junkie, so it is a dream come true to be able to represent VW and APR. I think it all started because my father’s Australian Formula 2 racecar used a Golf engine. Back in Australia I even used to proudly wear the VW logo on top of my go-kart helmet because I love ‘dubs’ that much.
For my first road car I bought a GTi – a 1976 Mk1 – which my father and I modified pretty heavily, installing a 16v engine out of a later model GTi. I hill-climbed that car, and when it was time for my first true racing car we bought a Super Vee (VW powered open-wheeler), so I’m really going back to my roots this weekend.”
And that he is. To support his early racing Drewer worked for an Australian APR agent, German Auto, in South Australia. For the record, Drewer won the Under 2000cc Road Registered category at the 2001 South Australian Hillclimb Championships in his 1976 VW GTi Mk1, was 2002 South Australian Super Vee Rookie of the Year and the 2003 FVASA Super Vee Drivers’ Champion.
“I enjoyed great success in Volkswagens so I’m hoping I can continue the trend for APR and VW DriverGear in the new MK6 GTI.”
Jeff Mishtawy, Director of Motorsport for APR, shared his sentiments on having Tom join the team, “I’m really proud to have signed him. Tom has driven such a large variety of cars and has so much experience; I’m looking forward to working with him on the car. Having a driver of his calibre providing feedback to a brand new car is an absolutely ideal situation, and I’m sure we’ll show that with our pace in April.”
Drewer’s APR VW GTi will run in what is known as the ST (Street Tuner) category competing against a field including Honda Civic SI, BMW 328i, Mazda MX-5, Mazda Rx-8, Kia Forte Koup, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and Mini Cooper S.
Sharing the car with Drewer is APR Motorsport team principal Stephen Hooks. With both Drewer and Hooks behind the wheel, it will be a historic debut for the MK6 GTi as it’s taken on track by two drivers with a deep history with Volkswagen products.
Drewer summed it up; “My fist car was GTi, and so is my next. I’m returning to where it all began, behind the wheel of a Volkswagen GTi. I can’t wait!”
About APR: APR LLC is an automotive engineering firm operating a 36,000 sq. ft. performance campus in Opelika, Ala. APR was founded in 1997 with a corporate philosophy of Integrity, Excellence and Innovation. APR’s Sole Mission is to provide the highest quality and most highly engineered aftermarket performance products available for Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. Learn more at www.goapr.com
About the series: The GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge features sports cars manufactured from around the world, brought straight from the showroom floor, that race side by side with only minor modifications in the area of safety. Like the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races two classes at the same time: Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST). The starting fields for Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge typically feature more than 60 of today’s hottest import and domestic production cars, racing simultaneously and competing for both overall and class honours. Learn more at www.grand-am.com
About Tom Drewer: Drewer has been touted as one of Australia’s future Le Mans winners by respected motorsport commentator and cartoonist, John ‘Stonie’ Stoneham. In his first year of North American competition Australian Tom Drewer 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. Learn more at www.tomdrewer.com