GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Paul Holton
- Matt Plumb
Team garners second ST podium of the IMSA season with Audi and moves back to third place in GS with McLaren
DANVILLE, VA — The rolling hillside over which the challenging Virginia International Raceway twists and turns has to be one of Compass Racing’s favorite stops on the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge tour. Not only is it a true driver’s track, it’s also one that brings out enthusiastic fans from all over the South. Plus, VIR is the track which the team scored its first professional win, in 2005. C360R has had a lot of success since then, and after a couple of challenging weekends at Lime Rock Park and Road America, the squad was pleased to be back on form in Virginia.
The weekend wasn’t without its drama, though. After setting top-five times for all three of its CTSC entries during practice, the GS-class No. 77 Santo Mezquila / Misahara Jewelry / Pfaff Automotive / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Race Day Foundation McLaren 570S GT4 of Mathew Keegan and Nico Rondet suffered a broken exhaust which melted tubing and wiring in the engine bay. As ever, the crew worked diligently late into the night, making use of parts from the other McLaren team (fellow Canadian outfit Motorsports In Action) – and the local Auto Zone supply – to get the car to the grid.
Qualifying was a challenge for Paul Holton and Matt Plumb’s No. 76 Alphaclone ETF / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation McLaren, with the car running on seven cylinders and unable to set a competitive time. The problem was traced to a broken coil wire. Meanwhile, the ST-class No. 75 APR LLC / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Brooklyn Tailors / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation Audi S3 piloted by Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing qualified in 17th position.
With all three cars starting toward the back of their respective grids, the gauntlet was set for the drivers to move through the field, for the crew to execute pit stops, and for the strategists to make the right calls.
As expected, the McLarens of Keegan and Holton moved through the GS field, but were hampered by an Aston Martin who managed to keep both behind for many laps. Once by, the gap to the leaders seemed insurmountable. Meanwhile, Block made his way through the ST traffic.
No. 76 pitted under green before the one-hour mark, with No. 77 in the lap after. Whilst the latter was in the pits, a full-course caution came out, bunching up the field. They returned to competition in seventh and sixth place with Plumb and Rondet at their respective wheel, with the crew having executed nearly flawless pit stops. No. 75 was then serviced with the team delivering a blinding stop, jumping eight positions in the pits, putting Kleinubing out in third position.
The remainder of the race was, as one expects at VIR, a barn-burner. With only three races remaining in the CTSC season, the fight at the front of both classes is tight and no quarter is given, as every single point counts. The fight was dramatic, with changes of position throughout the now-compressed field. At the checkered flag, Kleinubing held on to third place, delivering No. 75 its second podium of the season. Rondet was fourth, nearly pipping the No. 59 Mustang at the line, and Plumb was eighth.“It’s such an thrill to be back on the podium with our Audi,” grinned Block. “Getting to the podium in this series is incredibly hard, but that’s what makes being up here with P.K. so meaningful. I can’t thank the guys at Compass Racing enough for giving us this great car, and to APR, Pfaff and AERO for their support.”
The fourth-place finish for No. 77 keeps it in contention for the championship, in third place, just one point out of second. No. 76 isn’t far behind, just six points in arrears.“We’ve had ups and downs this year, for sure,” noted Keegan. “But we expected that when introducing the new McLaren GT4 to the field. It’s great to be still in the hunt, and the guys will pull out all the stops for the final two rounds. This team never quits."
The race is broadcast on FOX Sports and can be viewed on-line at http://imsatv.imsa.com/videos/series/sportscarchallenge.
The next IMSA event for the team is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California on September 22-23rd.