Compass360 Triumphs in First Outing with New RX-7

Belleville, ON -- June 4th, 2006

What was intended to be a simple shake-down of our new Mazda RX-7 turned out to be a great return to regional competition for the Compass360/Racing team.

The car in question has an interesting pedigree, being built and campaigned by Florida-based Speedsource before heading north of the border to be run by Joe Chen's Essex Racing squad. It competed in IMSA events, PSCR (Professional Sportscar) and Motorola Cup, and won a number of championships.

We found it, nearly derelict in a Scarborough storage facility, and have spent the past few months getting it back to fighting form. Regional Crew Chief Syd Patricio was instrumental in the rebirth of the car, and Shannonville presented an opportunity to see if the car was up to snuff. For maximum track time, we elected to run both the Ontario Challenge Cup (three 20-minute sprint races) and the Touring GT Championship (a single one-hour race).

Saturday was overcast; wet. And at Shannonville, that means great fun on track, but a sodden, muddy paddock. Regardless, we adjusted suspension settings each session, improving each time, the result being a first-in-class and third overall in the first OCC race, and a fifth-place qualifying position for the TGTC race on Sunday. Both sessions featured drifting-like cornering around the entire circuit, as driver Karl Thomson got used to the rather astonishing power eminating from the 1.3L single-turbo rotary, and the somewhat insufficient grip from the newly-shaved Toyo RA-1's the team had fitted.

Sunday was dry, and gradually more sunny. We were first again in the second OCC race of the weekend, and hoped for good things in the TGTC race, just after lunch. Thomson jumped two positions to third on the first lap, and proceeded to put on a clinic in the GT class, lapping the entire field save one. He chased Andrew Wojteczko's SPEED World Challenge Lexus and Scott Nichol's Civic Si in the early going, and during the team's pit stop at the 40-minute mark, made up seven seconds on Nichol, coming out second overall and maintaining first in class, cruising to certain victory in the one-hour race.

Unfortunately, at tech the #360 car was given a one-lap penalty for making its mandatory one-minute pit stop one lap outside of the regulated time. It had been such a dominant performance, though, that this merely moved us back to second place. Thomson, naturally, was disappointed, having driven consistent 2:02-second laps throughout the entire hour-long race. On the whole, though, the car and team aquitted themselves nicely, showing that the RX-7 can once again be competitive in both OCC and TGTC.

Thomson will head to Mid Ohio for his next Grand Am Cup race in late June, while the car returns to Patricio's care in preparation for the team's next regional race in July.

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For more information on Compass360/Racing contact Karl Thomson at 416.465.2299 x21.

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