GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Paul Holton
- Matt Plumb
Result moves McLaren duo to second in championship points, Keegan/Rondet to third
BOWMANVILLE, ON — With two double-podium results in the last two rounds, Compass Racing looked to continue their strong form at the team's home track, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, for round five of IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
Thursday’s promoter test day went well, with both GS-class McLaren 570S GT4s and the squad’s ST-class Audi S3 running that the front of their respective fields.Seeing the No. 75 APR LLC / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation S3 performing well was a welcome sight, as damage incurred to the primary car at the previous week’s race at Watkins Glen had necessitated the use of the team’s backup car.
“We’d been doing development work using the spare car with our partners at APR, and after Watkins it was clear we would need to use it while the Watkins car was being repaired,” remarked Technical Director Ray Lee.
Friday’s practice sessions uncovered a cooling issue with the team’s No. 77 AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Santo Mezquila / Misahara Jewelry / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation McLaren. Although the crew worked well into the wee hours, Saturday morning’s session made it clear the problem still existed. With very little time between qualifying and the race, Team Principal Karl Thomson made a bold decision.
"We had an issue with our No. 77 McLaren that we couldn’t solve in time for the race, so I talked to the guys at Motorsport in Action, who also compete in GS with McLarens. Although we’re fierce competitors when the race starts, they graciously offered to loan us their No. 68 car. It was a mad dash with both crews working to swap parts over from our car and get the 68 ready in just a few short hours. The teams worked incredibly well together, and we managed to get to the grid in time for the fan walk.”
And so the race started, with two of C360R’s three entries being “reserve” carsPaul Holton, in the No. 76 Alphaclone ETF / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation McLaren, trailed MiA’s Chris Green, and ran a controlled race by keeping the leader in sight. Mathew Keegan, in No.68, carved through the field from the back of the back, where he was required to start for using a spare car. By the time pit stops were executed he was up to fourth in GS, showing another incredible drive in his first season of CTSC competition.Roy Block, meanwhile, was similarly moving through the ST field when he had contact with another car and was spun around in corner ten. He recovered well, but ended up going down a lap. In a smart strategic move, when the leaders pitted, the team had Block stay out to return to the lead lap. He then pitted and handed over to co-driver Pierre Kleinubing. They ultimately finished 13th.
Holton had handed No. 75 over to Matt Plumb, and Nico Rondet was now in No. 68, both cars having been hampered by the one-gun rule for the single-lug McLarens. “We came into the pits in second and fourth place, and returned to the track in fourth and seventh,” fumed Lee. “We’re hoping the series will rectify this by giving us two guns for the next race.”
Further frustrating the team’s fight for position was the need to conserve fuel in order to make it to the end. “I was short-shifting for my entire stint,” noted Plumb, “and the guys were madly doing calculations to let me know when I could use all the horses.” Ultimately No. 76 finished fourth.Rondet, meanwhile, hit trouble with just minutes to go as the left rear wheel came loose, damaging the hub, spindle and suspension, which netted them a tenth place on track.
But the race wasn’t over. In post-race technical inspection, the No. 69, which had finished third after running out of fuel on the last lap, was found to be over-weight and was moved to the back of the class, moving No. 76 up to third and No. 68 up to ninth.
These result see C360R’s drivers swap places in the championship, with Holton/Plumb in second, just three points back from first, and Keegan/Rondet in third, four points further back. The Manufacturer’s championship, with two points separating Ford, Porsche and McLaren.
“Mid-way through the season, you’d have to say we’re pleased with the results thus far,” said Team Principal Karl Thomson. “We’ve had a great run of four consecutive races with podium finishes, including two where both McLarens finished on the box and the Audi has also got a podium."
The race is broadcast on FOX Sports and can be viewed on-line at http://imsatv.imsa.com/videos/series/sportscarchallenge.
The next IMSA event for the team is Lime Rock Park July 21-22nd.