Sean RayhallAmerican teenager Sean Rayhall further strengthened his place as one of the most talented up-and-coming racers in the nation this past week (September 29-30) by dominating the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship season-finale at Road Atlanta. As part of the prestigious Petit Le Mans event, the 16 year-old racer from Georgia won both Round 13 and 14 from the pole position, setting a new lap record in the process. Making it even more impressive was the fact it was Rayhall’s series debut in the American Le Mans Series development championship.

Rayhall, having captured wins and championships in karting, Skip Barber Racing, SCCA Pro Racing and Legends, embarked on his latest motorsports challenge when he partnered with Comprent Motor Sports for his pro sports car racing debut. Thanks to support from SCCA Enterprises – a reward for winning the 2010 Formula Enterprises Series title – the Georgia native was part of the talented field racers taking part in the Prototype Lites Championship season-finale at Road Atlanta. While Rayhall had previously piloted a Comprent Motor Sports prepared Elan DP02 entry before (winning SCCA races), the Petit Le Mans doubleheader represented the first chance to go against pro racers and teams with lots of experience and skill.

The action at Rayhall’s home track unofficially commenced via a promoter’s day testing, and the highly-rated teenager wasted little time showcasing his skills behind the wheel. Despite focusing on car setup rather than an outright quick lap, Rayhall still managed to top the speedcharts.

When the action officially got underway via two practice runs on Wednesday, the No. 77 SCCA Enterprises/Comprent Motor Sports Elan DP02 remained the car to beat, as Rayhall was nearly a second faster than his nearest pursuer in both sessions.

Given Rayhall’s performance in the sessions prior to the lone qualifying run, everyone expected the 2011 Legends racing standout to challenge for the Round 13 pole position. Rayhall promptly met everyone’s expectations, posting a lap of 1:19.836 – four tenths faster than the next fastest driver – to secure the P1 starting spot for his inaugural Prototype Lites Championship race.

Returning to the cockpit of his Comprent Motor Sports racing steed a short time later for race one of the Road Atlanta doubleheader, Rayhall proved to be in a class of his own. Not only did the 16 year-old immediately pull away from the rest of the field when the green flag waved, but he did so once again following a brief full-course caution period. In the end, he led all 21 laps, scoring a 10-second win in his pro sports car debut.

“The key was to be good on cold tires,” said Rayhall. “The team gave me a great car to be able to do that. There was great competition behind me, with Nunez and my teammate [Jonathan Gore in the No. 14 Comprent car] coming in third, so it was a good podium for us! It’s a great debut for me, with no real moments. But you give it all you’ve got and really push it no matter how big a lead you have. There’s no relaxation out there!”

With the grid for Round 14 set by each driver’s fastest lap in race one, Rayhall once again was at the head of the field when the green flag waved for race two on Friday morning. This time however Rayhall had to fight for top honors. With a fellow teenage racer providing the opposition, Rayhall diced for the lead lap after lap, regularly swapping first place. In what was a thrilling battle, the win came down to the final few corners. Rayhall, having executed a bold outside pass in turn 10 with two laps to go, ultimately emerged with both a second consecutive win from the pole and a new race lap record of 1:19.434.

“Wild is an understatement,” said Rayhall. “It was controlled chaos. But it was a lot of fun. Tristan gave me a run today. Comprent gave me a great car, though I was having problems with the RPMs that affected my shifting. But it’s all about how you bounce back, and we bounced back hard today! It was a great debut for me. It was great racing against Tristan. I can’t wait to race with him again like that!”

Rayhall will now take a brief break to soak up his impressive pro sports car debut, before returning to the highly-competitive action in the Legends ranks. Next up is the 20th Annual Asphalt Nationals on October 28-29, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 16 year-old star enters the event with the Charlotte Summer Shoot Out, Atlanta Thursday Thunder, and Legends Winter Nationals titles already on his resume this season.

Additional information on Sean Rayhall can be obtained from his website @ http://www.seanrayhall.com/ For direct contact and to inquire about supporting this fast rising motorsports star, please contact Charles Rayhall @ charlesrayhall@yahoo.com

Photo by Darren Pierson-DPerceptions.