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This article was featured on Grand-Am's pre-Indy newsletter and website:
Compass360 Racing could be called a dynasty, having won four Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge ST class championships. The most recent title came in 2010 and – no surprise – the Toronto-based organization's No. 75 Honda Civic Si is knocking on the door for a fifth crown. It heads both team and driver championship standings by 15 points entering the July 26 Brickyard Sports Car Challenge at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The No. 75 Honda and co-drivers Kyle Gimple and Ryan Eversley are winless so far in 2013 but boast three podium finishes including a second at Watkins Glen International. Their closest competitor is the No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i co-driven by Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra.
Despite the team's points advantage, there's no early celebration. "We've got a small points lead but we have to be careful the rest of the year," said Ray Lee, the team's technical director. "Some of the tracks we go to suit our car but others – like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – see other cars with an advantage. On one hand we want to win but we have to keep our eyes on the big prize."
Compass360 Racing, in its 10th season in the series, ran a record five cars in the season-opening round at Daytona in January. They came away with three top-10 finishes highlighted by a podium (third place) for Gimple and Eversley. The team is the lead technical partner with Honda Performance Development (HPD) and worked to create last year's 2012-spec Honda Civic Si that competes in the class. It includes an HPD-sealed engine available to all teams, as well as a number of HPD suspension and electronic components.
"We're really pleased with the results of the work we did in 2012 on the new car," said Team Principal Karl Thomson, "and even more so with the job that our drivers – led by Kyle and Ryan – are doing on the track. We think the Honda makes a pretty good race car," he continued. "We don't have as much straight-line power as the Mazdaspeed3 or the Nissan Altima and the BMWs and Mazda MX-5s are much better on the brakes but – overall – our cars race well and we have a good, all-around package."
Next up is Indianapolis where Compass360 Racing's No. 76 Honda, shared by David Thilenius and Gareth Nixon finished fourth in 2012. "We had a good car here last year but the weather made the race a bit of a crap shoot," said Eversley, who finished 29th at inaugural event. "Kyle and I are hoping to rectify that with a good podium finish." Gimple, who drove for CJ Wilson Racing in 2012 and ran fifth at Indy, agreed. "I'm dreaming of kissing the bricks," he said.
Thomson will return to North America after traveling with his family to South Africa – a journey that had nothing to do with an engine and four wheels. His daughter Laura, 16, is a member of Canada's Junior World Rhythmic Gymnastics team. "She's had all sorts of interesting trips over the past two years," the proud father said. "This year South Africa came in a nice break in the GRAND-AM schedule so we planned a big family trip around the competition."
SPEED will broadcast the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 3.