May 14-15, 2005
Our cars arrived back from California on Monday. Mosport test days were Friday. It meant that there wasn't much time for body work, and the cars (especially #06, which had been beaten on quite badly at Laguna Seca) certainly looked well-raced. Of course, Ian and the crew at Hockley Autosport made sure the cars were in perfect mechanical condition, and we headed to Mosport.
It was exciting for me, because I'd still yet to drive #36, despite the fact that we've been running it since February at Daytona. So, I got a chance to drive both cars back-to-back for the first time. It's amazing that both cars feel quite different, and yet turn very similar lap times. We're going to work on both cars to get them closer to each other over the next few weeks, taking the best of each which will result in two cars that are easily drivable, tossable and that handle well over the course of a three hour race. After all of our experience with our old Z3 in 2004, we've learned a lot and will finally get to apply that to the new cars.
Which means that we should be well set for Shannonville in three weeks, and then for Watkins Glen when we return to Grand Am Cup competition in early June.
As for the May 14-15 weekend, the team prayed for rain. And although it looked like it for much of the weekend, almost every run was done in dry conditions. We've elected to run our cars in the Ontario Challenge Cup, which had a few different classes of essentially "bracket racing." Each class has a "break-out" time; run faster than that and you move up to the next class.
Our BMW Z3s are right on the cusp of GT-B (break out of 1:36.0 at Mosport) which meant that we elected to run in GT-A (break out of 1:30.0). In Grand Am Cup terms, GT-A is pretty much GS-class territory, but we decided not to worry about break-out times, and compete in the higher class. After all, part of the purpose here is to develop two already well-developed cars even further. And you can't do that if you're worrying about breaking out.
It turns out this was the right decision, as Dave managed to run in the 1:35's, which would have meant a DQ from those races, which in turn would have been detrimental to year-end standings.
Ian, meanwhile, relished his chance to compete after years (perhaps we should say decades ;-) behind the pit wall as Crew Chief. Ian's a fierce go kart competitor, winning our Ontario Indoor Championship numerous times, and he acclimatized well in his first outing in a Touring car.
The Ontario Challenge Cup features "cascade" racing, which means that your finishing position in the first race is your grid position in the next, and so on. At the end of the weekend, Dave placed 3rd, 4th and 4th in GT-A against some really high-powered competition including a 600hp Corvette, an LT1 Camaro, a Shelby Cobraand a V8 Triumph. Ian's consistency was excellent: 5th, 5th and 5th. Keep in mind that our BMW Z3s are Grand Am Cup-spec cars, which means basically stock 2.8L motors and weights of 2,650 lbs. As I said, an excellent outing for both drivers.
Perhaps best of all, our friend Shaun de Jager (who owns the Z3 we ran in 2004) equipped our cars with some really high-tech cameras for great footage. In the next few days I'll be uploading some clips from the full race, just in case you might think that regional racing in Ontario is something less than wheel-to-wheel competitive. (Check back later this week).
We've now got three weeks before the next race, which is at Shannonville in early June. As I've said, the weekend after that is GAC at the Glen, and the week after that is GAC Mosport. A busy month, then. Regardless, we look forward to it, as our cars now sit well both in the Grand Am standings, but also in the Ontario Challenge Cup. It sure is shaping up to be a banner season for the Compass360/Racing team!
-- Karl Thomson
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