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Continental Tire IMSA Reflections: Karl Thomson

This week’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections with Compass Racing’s Karl Thomson…

Photo: Compass Racing

Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.

This week, Compass Racing team owner Karl Thomson reflects on his team’s 2010 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class championship, the second title in a back-to-back championship run.

What stands out most about your 2010 Continental Tire Challenge ST championship season?

“That has to be the final round at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

“We went into that race 19 points in arrears of the first-place car, and were figuring our No. 75 Honda of David Thilenius and Lawson Aschenbach would finish in second place.

“But the leader had mechanical trouble in the early going, and both of our drivers fought hard to win the race, ending up on the podium in third.

“In what has to be the closest championship finish in CTSC history, the first and second place teams tied on points, on first place finishes and second place finishes. Our third place in the final race was the tie-breaker.

“Capping off a strong season, our No. 74 Honda of Zach Lutz and Ryan Eversley also finished third in the championship.”

What were your goals going into that season?

“We’d won the championship the year before with Christian Miller and Randy Pobst, and knew that the chances of a repeat were slim; the competition in CTSC is simply that tight.

“We had a great see-saw battle with the BimmerWorld car all season long, and felt really fortunate to come out on top. But our goal has always been the same: to win races and the championship.

“We’ve proven to be in the hunt most years and are proud of that consistency; the 2010 result marked the third manufacturer title for our partner, Honda, in four years.”

Who was your stiffest competition in 2010?

“There were a number of really strong teams and cars, but right from the outset we knew the No. 81 BMW of Bill Heumann and Seth Thomas was going to be tough to beat, with the VW of Kevin Stadtlander and Josh Hurley strong as well, plus Compass Racing alumni Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows in their Kia.

“And, just like this season in TCR, some of the stiffest competition came from drivers within our own squad (our No. 74 and 77 Audis are vying for the top spot this year, with the winner to be decided at Road Atlanta).”

What has been the impact of the Continental Tire Challenge series on the growth of your team?

“Our team is the longest consecutively-running squad in CTSC history, which traces its roots back to Motorola Cup in the mid-nineties.

“We haven’t missed a race since January 2004, and along the way have had different variations on our name (Compass360 Racing, Compass360/Kensai, C360R, and now the more refined Compass Racing), but we’ve always committed to being in the championship hunt.

“We’ve grown since our humble beginnings with a sole BMW, spent many years with Acura and Honda, with programs for Subaru and Ford as well, before moving to our Audi platforms in 2014 and adding McLaren in 2016.

“We also appreciate the camaraderie of the competitors: BimmerWorld fielded the No. 81 car we battled all year in 2010, and a few years later we teamed up together to field a GX-class Cayman in the 24 Hours of Daytona, where we finished second with our friends at Bullet Racing.

“You don’t do that sort of thing with people you don’t like and trust.”

We’ve found CTSC to be one of the most competitive and rewarding championships in the world and are proud to have been able to build our business here and be a part of the series’ legacy.

For you, what will Continental’s legacy from its time in IMSA be?

“Continental has been a true partner to the series.

“They really understand how to maximize their involvement in motorsports and do a tremendous job at activation and getting people inside their business, as well as dealer partners, excited about our kind of racing.

“We worked with Travis Roffler and his team on a number of initiatives over the years, and are grateful to his team for all they’ve done for us and IMSA.”

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