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Apr 19, 2011 / reports


Aschenbach Maintains Championship Lead Despite First-Lap Incident

(Long Beach, CA) -- Rookie driver Tom Ehlen crossed the line in fifth place in front of a massive capacity crowd at the Long Beach Grand Prix last weekend, having managed to avoid a first-lap incident between the top qualifiers in the World Challenge Touring Car class.

Ehlen qualified sixth in his #72 Compass360 Racing / Speed Secrets Honda Civic Si, while team-mate Lawson Aschenbach put his #71 Honda on pole. At the drop of the green flag and prior to the first corner, Aschenbach was tagged by another competitor, damaging the front suspension of his car. Ehlen deftly avoided the carnage, which involved the top three TC cars, settling into a nice battle with his competitors.

The Compass360 Racing (C360R) team, meanwhile, worked feverishly to repair the suspension on Aschenbach's car. The race continued under green flag conditions until the closing minutes, when a competitor's car was stranded on track, bringing out a full-course caution, ending the race under yellow.

Tom Ehlen got through the first-lap melee at Long Beach to finish fourth, his first top-five pro finish in just his third World Challenge race.


In post-race technical inspection, the race-winning VW was found to have illegal modifications to its intake, the resulting disqualification moving Ehlen up to fourth. The finish marks his best result in his rookie season, and his first professional-series top-five result.

"I am so excited to be a part of this team and am so happy with this result. It was a perfect weekend for me," enthused Ehlen. "I'm thankful to have such a great coach. Gord (Bentley) has been so wonderful to work with, as has the whole Compass360 group." Tom is now second World Challenge Rookie of the Year standings, trailing Tristan Herbert by just 23 points.

Compass360's Long Beach grid girls were the hit of the weekend.

Aschenbach managed to salvage an eighth-place finish, which combined with his 15 points for qualifying on pole give him crucial points in his bid for the championship. "The crew did an amazing job this weekend, giving me a great car, and it was frustrating to get taken out before the race really began" explained Aschenbach. "We'll take the points and hope to be back on the podium in Utah." Lawson leads the TC driver's standings by 89 points.

In California C360R continued its rewarding partnership with the Children's Tumor Foundation, proudly representing the charity's Racing4Research fundraising arm in front of the large and enthusiastic Long Beach crowd. Donations can be made here.

The Long Beach event will be televised at 2:30pm on April the 30th on Versus.

Compass360 Racing's next event is the fourth round of the World Challenge series, at Miller Motorsports Park just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday April 30th.

Photo Credit: Ron Burmudez