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Jan 30, 2010 / reports


Compass360 Racing started the 2010 season of GRAND-AM’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge with much the same form they wrapped up the Driver, Team and Manufacturer’s Championships last year.

“We signed a group of drivers that we believe form the very best line-up in the paddock,” explained Team Principal Karl Thomson. “We want to aggressively defend our titles, and these guys have proved they are more than up to the task.”

The race started well, with all four orange C360R Honda Civic Si’s qualifying in the top-twelve, and with David Thilenius putting the #74 he shares with Lawson Aschenbach on outside pole. At the drop of the green flag, Thilenius made short work of getting around the first-place car, which developed into a back-and-forth battle between the top four cars lasting through the first hour of the race.

The team’s other three cars were likewise moving up the field, making the most of two restarts after some yellow-flag periods in the early going. Zach Lutz, who impressed with his Mustang Challenge drives last year, led the field in his very first GRAND-AM race in the #75 J.C. Concrete-sponsored car, Gregory Liefhooge, also a Rookie to the series, likewise led during his stint in the #76 Exclusive Management / Coolgas car.

Consequently, three of the team’s four cars led the race at one point or another, and ran together in the top five after the pit stops were completed mid-race.

Aschenbach, who had managed to build a 5-second lead, saw that lead shrinking with fifteen minutes to go. One of Bimmerworld’s new BMW 328’s was making up time, with an equally quick Freedom MX-5 in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, Benoit Theetge, who had taken over from his brother Donald in the team’s #77 Honda, was leading a tightly-fought battle five-way battle for fourth, which included one of APR’s VW GTI’s, an RSR Mini, the other Bimmerworld car, and the other two Compass360 Civics.

With twenty minutes to go, Jesse Combs in the #76 car was running line-astern behind the BMW and Mini, and tagged the rear of the Bimmerworld car in turn-one, putting paid to a sure top-seven finish. Meanwhile Lutz’s team-mate Ryan Eversley had made exceptional strides to move his #75 car up to fifth, just behind Theetge, who’d managed to hold on to fourth.

As the checkered flag fell, it was Compass360 cars in first, fourth and fifth which was a strong showing for the team and its entirely-new driver line up.

“I’m really proud of all the guys today,” noted Crew Chief Ray Lee. “The crew, the drivers, everyone executed flawlessly today. We’re traditionally strong at Daytona, and it’s the fourth year in a row we’ve been on the podium, so we’ll see if we can repeat this performance at Homestead next month.”

The Fresh From Florida race will be televised, tape-delayed on SPEED TV on February 13th at 7:00pm on SPEED.