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Jan 12, 2010 / reports

C360R Roar Before the 24 Daytona Test Report

Compass360 Racing had, one must say, a remarkably successful showing at this past weekend’s Daytona Test Days. We took three of the four Honda Civic Si’s we’ll be fielding for the 2010 season in Grand Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge to the event, and managed to post top times in nearly every session.

We’ve signed an entirely new roster of drivers for this year, and the Test Days were a great opportunity for our pilots and crew to work together and get to know each other. This is important because the next time we’ll be together will be under the pressure of a very fast race weekend as the lead-up race to the Rolex series’ 24-hours of Daytona at the end of January.

Zach Lutz and Ryan Eversley were in our #75 car, Jessee Combs and Gregory Liefooghe shared #76, while Carlos Tesler-Mabe, Lawson Aschenbach, Michael Duncalfe and I shared the team’s new #77 Honda.

The weather in Daytona was unseasonably cold, with temperatures being pretty much on par with Toronto when we arrived late Thursday. Friday was not only near-freezing, but surprisingly overcast, making for unusual track conditions. Grand-Am had allotted us two one-hour sessions each day, and our Civics proved to be very quick right out of the trailer. Starting up where we left off last year, we were positions 2-3-4 in the morning practice, and then were 1-2-3 in the afternoon. As many know, equality between the cars is something we work very hard on, and this consistency was great to see.

One has to say that a lot of the teams at the test were working on developing new cars and new drivers, and that we undoubtedly had the strongest team driver line-up at the test. So the results, while impressive, aren’t too surprising. The real test will be in three weeks time when everyone brings their “A” game for the actual race!

That said, our drivers and cars were equally strong on the other days. Morning practice on Saturday was iced-out (meaning the track had icy spots and was unsafe to drive on), but it had warmed (a little bit) sufficiently so that the competitors were able to go out in the afternoon. By the end of the session we were 1-2-3 once again.

We do detailed driver de-briefings after each session, and our rookie drivers (including Combs, Liefooghe, Lutz and Tesler-Mabe) were making great strides, and getting closer and closer to the times of Aschenbach and Eversley. Coombs, in fact, managed to put in a great time right in between our pros in one session. Quite impressive!

We reviewed video and data on Saturday night and were ready for Saturday morning practice, under sunny skies and slightly warmer temperatures. Some of the other teams were moving up the leader board, with one of the Minis in P1 for most of the first session, and a Jetta in third, with us in P2 and P4. Towards the end of the session, Eversley tucked in behind a GS-class Mustang and managed to get a simply amazing tow, setting the fastest time of the weekend.

In the afternoon we ran only two cars, with Combs setting fastest time in 76 in P1 and me laying down the top time in 77, putting it P3, 3/10th behind. One of the Jettas was sandwiched between, but none of us managed to eclipse Ryan’s flyer in the morning.

In the end Ryan was fastest, with Lawson in P2, so being at the head of the field we’re understandably happy with the results.

With the cars packed up, the crew headed back to our Toronto base to prepare for the race on January 28-29. We’ve got a very strong package, with a collection of great drivers on tap for our championship defense, and we are very much looking forward to going racing again after the winter break.

We’re hoping to be on the Daytona podium for the fourth year in a row…