(Toronto, Canada) — It’s been two and a half short months since Compass360 Racing’s (C360R) 2012 sports car campaign closed out its final event at the Grand-Am test at the Kansas Motor Speedway.
In that time the team has been flat out at its Toronto headquarters, refurbushing and improving their already strong collection of new Honda Civic Si Coupes. They’ve even built a few more, and will be bringing an impressive five 2013-spec cars to the Daytona race at the end of January.
“We’ve worked closely with our friends at Honda Performance Development (HPD) since the fall of 2011 to develop this new car,” remarked Team Technical Director Ray Lee. “It started with a build and a test at Road Atlanta in September 2011, and then a press day at Willow Springs in October. From there we helped build the package throughout 2012 into a strong contender that a number of teams have adopted for Grand-Am’s 2013 season.”
Indeed, the Civic Si may be the car of choice for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner-class, with more than ten cars and four teams likely to take the green flag at the season-opening event at the end of January.
“We’ve got four cars scheduled for the Test Days this weekend,” noted Team Principal Karl Thomson. “And we’ll be running five for the race.” This will mark a milestone for the squad, which celebrates its tenth consecutive season of Grand-Am competition in 2013. “We started in 2004 with a single car, with the goal of building a long-term and sustainable professional sports car team,” Thomson explained. “This year we’ll be running three full-season CTSCC cars, with two more for select events, as well as another three-car program in World Challenge.” Five cars at a single event will be the most cars the team has run in any series.
Anchoring the team’s CTSCC efforts will be a number of drivers very familiar to the squad. In fact, only one of the six core drivers is new. Team rookie Kyle Gimple will co-drive the #75 Racing4Research car with Ryan Everlsey, which will mark his fourth consecutive year with C360R. Similarly, David Thilenius, who won the 2010 ST Championship with the squad, will be back for his fourth season in the #74 Picture Cars East Honda with Aaron Povoledo. Povoledo is no stranger to the team, having run Grand-Am with them during the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons. Most recently he was the team’s primary competitor in the 2011 World Challenge championship at the helm of a Volvo C30.
Ray Mason is back for this third C360R year, co-driving the #76 Columbus Truck with 2007 ST Champion Adam Burrows, who is also back for his third C360R season. “Driver continuity is a big part of having a successful Grand-Am program,” said Lee. “Putting together this kind of strong driver line-up is even more important this year as it looks like the competition will be more fierce than ever.” From Thomson’s perspective, “I’m really happy to have such a consistent group of drivers in 2013. We know these guys… they know us and our crew, and we work together really well. That’s going to be key to winning the Driver and Team championships this year.”
The team’s two Team Seattle Daytona entries are equally strong. Young up-and-comers Eric Bloise and Andrew Newell will make their Grand-Am debuts in the #73 Team Seattle car, while returning C360R alumni James Colborn will team with reigning British Touring Car Independent’s Champion Andrew Jordan in the #77 Team Seattle Honda.
“Signing Jordan to drive with Colborn was something special,” laughed Thomson. “They’re both Brits, althogh Colborn now lives in Seattle. I think they’ll be good team-mates and will help our Heart Army program for the Seattle Children’s Hospital immensely. It’s an honor to be a part of that program and we look forward to building that over the coming seasons.”
The “Roar Before the 24” weekend starts Friday January 4th at Daytona International Speedway. Fans are encouraged to come to the event, which offers pretty much free access to the entire paddock for $15. For details visit daytonainternationalspeedway.
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