GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Corey Fergus
- Jeff Kingsley
- Paul Holton
Team brings four Street Tuner Hondas and one Grand Sport Subaru to historic IMSA event.
(Daytona Beach, FL) -- The rigs have arrived and disgorged their cargo, the crew and drivers are ready, and the paddock is abuzz with anticipation of a new race season about to begin. And this year, the excitement is increased as this will be the first weekend of racing under the new, combined sanctioning body formed by the merging of Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series. Now named IMSA, a name that reflects decades of sportscar history in North America, it oversees a diverse collection of racing series, including the new TUDOR United Sportscar Championship (TUSC), the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC), and a number of development series, including the Ferrari Challenge, all of which are on the cards at Daytona.
For long-time CTSCC competitors Compass360 Racing, the season opener offers a welcome break from the cold, snowy weather of their Toronto, Canada home base. As they did last year, the team brings a series-high five car squad to contest the inaugural round of the 2014 season. But unlike last year, where the team fielded five identical Honda Civic Si's in the Street Tuner class, this season sees the addition of a new Grand Sport entry in the form of the team's #76 Togue Tuning / Ligon Industries Subaru WRX STi, which will be driven by Ray Mason and 2013 World Challenge Touring Car Champion Ryan Winchester.
"After ten years competing in ST, we felt it was a good time to expand our program to GS," remarked Managing Director Karl Thomson. "We like the Subaru platform, and have been pleased with our progress so far through a variety of tests at Daytona, Sebring and Shannonville. But our roots are in ST with the Hondas, and I think the fact that we've brought four of the them for this race underlines our commitment to the continued success of that program."
Kyle Gimple and Ryan Eversley return to battle for the ST championship, after finishing a close second last season. "We do feel like we have unfinished business, and we will be working hard to get the team back to the number one spot by the end of the year," said Gimple. They'll be piloting the #75 US LED / End NF / HPD Honda for the season.
The team's other full-season Honda will be shared by two former World Challenge competitors who have paired up to run the #74 Nutrimind-Racing.com / ViSalus Project 10 / Loudbasstard / HPD car. Patrick Seguin and Jon Miller are both looking forward to the challenge of racing in the ultra-competitive series. "Over the past few years I've competed in both CTSCC and World Challenge, and I am really looking forward to racing in a Compass360 Honda," enthused Miller. "These guys know how to win races and championships."
Two Daytona-only entries will have crew assistance from Blanchet Racing. "We like to think of Blanchet as our 'farm team' in Canadian Touring Car," laughed Technical Director Ray Lee. "After two consecutive Canadian championships, we felt they were ready to come and help out at this level."
"For many years I've dreamed of racing at Daytona, and it's so exciting to see it finally happening," said Frank Blanchet. His co-driver, Damon Sharpe, comes to Daytona as reigning Canadian Touring Car Champion. They'll share the #72 Chippingham Financial / Pebbletech / HPD car.
Rounding out the Honda program are the Theetge brothers, Benoit and Donald. "They've run with us at Daytona many times over the past decade and it's great to have them back again," said Lee. The addition of the duo in the #73 Auto Frank et Michel / HPD Honda means that half of the drivers on the Daytona squad are Canadian. "As a Canadian team, it's always great to have a good group of Canucks behind the wheel," smiled Thomson. "We've got a good mix of english and french, too, with the Theetges from Quebec City, Frank and Damon from Toronto, and Patrick splitting the difference in Ottawa."
The IMSA CTSCC season starts this weekend, with the season opener at Daytona taking place on Friday, January 24th, and will be broadcast tape-delayed on FOX Sports at 6:00pm. For details visit http://www.imsa.com/series/sportscar-challenge.