Compass Aiming to Leverage Dual-Series Acura Campaign

Photo: Compass Racing

Compass Racing is looking to leverage its participation with Acura NSX GT3 Evos in both the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup and Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS this year in what team owner Jill Beck has described as a “cool benefit.”

The California-based team, which is already two events into its revived customer relationship with Honda Performance Development in SRO America competition, announced last week its GT Daytona class entry in the WeatherTech Championship with Mario Farnbacher and Jeff Kingsley.

It makes Compass only the second team that’s set to pull double duty with the same GT3 model in both series full-time.

According to Beck, this will not only have a benefit for the team but also its drivers, with Matt McMurry, who teamed with Farnbacher to win the IMSA GTD title last year with Meyer Shank Racing, part of Compass’ GTWC America program.

“We’ll have a group of drivers where they can all work together,” Beck told Sportscar365.

“I think because of the travel restrictions that are still in place, Mario will probably have to stay here for a bit in the summer.

“So we’ll bring him out here for [SRO America] races and can help coach Rodrigo [Sales] and work with Matt and they can share information.

“That’s a really cool benefit is that we’re able to have the data going back and forth.

“It’s pretty exciting to be running both series in GT3 and obviously it’s a big deal for Compass and our sponsors like Richard Mille, which has been an incredible supporter and a huge part of our growth.

“We look forward to be able to blanket both series with the Richard Mille Acura.”

Beck said its off-season switch from the McLaren 720S GT3 it campaigned in the last two IMSA Sprint Cup seasons to Acura machinery in both series has been “pretty flawless.”

“We moved the team to southern California and have our new shop there,” she said. “Having HPD there just up the road in Santa Clarita has been really helpful to us.

“The pandemic did cause some issues with McLaren as far as getting the parts in from England. 

“We’ve been able to avoid some of those issues where we’re able to get it from within the U.S., either in Ohio or California. 

“We got the first car at Sebring from Shank and then we got the Racer’s Edge car [afterwards].

“After tearing them down to the [bare] tub, we took the [ex-MSR] car back to Marysville [Ohio] to have the tub re-sorted after Alvaro [Parente’s] accident at Sebring.

“HPD and Acura has been really, really great to work with.”

Team principal Karl Thomson added: “Although we’re on different tires [in the two series], the dynamics of the cars are pretty similar. That’s going to accelerate our learning curve, absolutely. 

“We’ve had essentially three weekends with the car. We had a test weekend with SRO and did the Sonoma and COTA races.

“We also have great resources from Shank and we got Mario. I don’t think anybody knows the car better than him right now.”

While not having the opportunity to test its IMSA car due to the Sprint Cup program coming together “really late”, Beck said they feel confident about their chances next weekend. 

“The car obviously shows well there,” she said. “It’s a home race, if you will, for Honda and Acura, so they’re pretty excited to have it there. 

“We’re thrilled to have Mario on board. He’s such a good guy. I worked with his brother Dominik back in the day so it’s kind of cool to have another Farnbacher in the stable. 

“And Jeff Kingsley did so well for us in those two races last year when he subbed for Corey [Fergus]. We’re excited to have him, a good Canadian. 

“So I’m excited for Mid-Ohio. It’s a great track for us; we love it there. Compass has a great history there so we’re excited to hopefully replicate some of those positive results.”

IMSA, SRO America Cooperation “Critical” for Dual Series Program

Beck said they wouldn’t have been able to contest full seasons in both series without the increased level of cooperation between IMSA and SRO America, which have worked together to avoid conflicting events amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

SRO America moved its event at Virginia International Raceway one week forward to accommodate a date change for IMSA’s round in Detroit, while the two organizations are known to be working on other non-conflicting events together as well. 

“It’s critical because we wouldn’t have able to do both,” said Beck. “If that was not the case and we didn’t have faith in the series because there was still some pieces in flux like the CTMP weekend…

“If we didn’t know they were working together we’re not sure we could have committed to both programs simultaneously.”

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