GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Corey Fergus
- Paul Holton
Compass Racing has relocated its GT3 operations to the U.S., joining the squad's GT4 program in Southern California, in a move that’s been accelerated due to the current border restrictions, according to team principal Karl Thomson.
The former Toronto-based team will now call San Diego home, and a temporary shop has been established in Miami for the next six weeks, which has seen the team’s core group of Canadian crew set to remain in Florida through the summer.
With the U.S./Canada border closed until June 21 — and likely to be extended — Thomson explained to Sportscar365 that the team didn’t want to take any risks in potentially not having key members of the squad for its McLaren 720S GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup season, which kicks off next month in Daytona.“When IMSA announced plans to return to racing, we couldn’t wait to see if the government would open the border,” Thomson said.
“The current situation requires crew returning to Canada to quarantine for 14 days, which doesn't work with races scheduled every two weeks. So it made sense, even though there’s an expense attached to it, to get the full-time core Canadians a condo and get a temporary shop in Florida that we can use so we know we’re good to go.
“We've remained committed to competing in the 2020 Sprint Cup. It was just a question of how do we cross the border? It was important to get our leadership to the U.S. and make sure they are here.”The team’s Toronto base was closed earlier this month when its transporter headed to Florida.
Thomson explained that the move to the U.S. was always planned although has happened quicker than anticipated due to the current travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In May we purchased a building in California to be the new main facility for Compass Racing,” he explained. “We'd already moved the SRO America GT4 program there and all that remained in Toronto was GT3. So our headquarters is now in San Diego with a satellite shop on the East Coast, which will be needed given the IMSA schedule. The situation with the virus has simply hastened the closure of our Toronto shop.
“We made a commitment to be in San Diego and be a Califoria-based team when we started the ball rolling in buying this building back in January.”Thomson said the GTD squad will work from its temporary shop in Miami until the round at Virginia International Raceway in August, after which the IMSA effort will be based at is new permanent West Coast facility.
“We’ve had the time to concentrate on the the renovation and the build out of the shop here, which is really exciting,” Thomson said. "Although this is our 17th consecutive year in IMSA, it's fun because we’re opening a new chapter here for Compass Racing.
“This has been a real opportunity to make some lemonade out of lemons.”Thomson said a decision on whether the team will enter its McLaren for the three remaining IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds will depend on its position in the GTD championship. The team had been eying a run in the Indianapolis 8 Hour prior to IMSA’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen getting rescheduled to the same weekend as the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli event in early October.
“We’re already thinking into 2021 because we want to be on the grid in Daytona for the 24-hour,” Thomson said. “We're keen to have a dry run for that as our opening run of the Sprint Cup, at Daytona, so we can learn as we go into next year and hopefully run the entire season.
“I’m excited about the future of IMSA; I’m excited about the future of sports car racing. I look at the opportunity we’ve got in reaching new fans that are hungry for sporting events. If we continue to do this right — NASCAR and IndyCar are doing a good job — we’ve got a really good opportunity in sports car racing right now.”