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CTSC Pre-Roar News Notebook

Lots of new programmes coming together

Compass Racing to enter TCR Audis

Compass Racing has announced that it will race in the new CTSC TCR class in 2018 with a pair of Audi RS 3 LMS’.

“We were proud to be the first team to commit to this new IMSA class, and to now be the first to announce our driver line-ups,” remarked Team Principal Karl Thomson. “We’ve run for many years in this series, having not missed a race since January 2004, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow our program in this paddock.”

Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing — who drove the team’s ST-class Audi S3 to three podiums and a victory in 2017 — will pilot the team’s #75 car.

Rodrigo Sales, who helmed a BMW in Pirelli World Challenge last season, will drive the #74 Audi with Kuno Wittmer, who joins the squad from Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s GTLM BMW effort.

“Having a chance to add Rodrigo and Kuno to our new TCR program is a great opportunity,” noted Technical Director Ray Lee. “We believe we’ve got a really strong driver line-up in both cars and expect to be in the hunt for the championship from the get-go.”

Compass Racing will build on its experience with the Audi TCR platform, which netted the team a PWC championship in 2017 with pilot Paul Holton.

“We got a lot of useful data last season that we hope will give us a leg-up on the competition,” said Thomson. “From what we’re hearing we should see quite a few Audis in IMSA for 2018, along with VWs, Alfa Romeo and hopefully Honda; the TCR class has a lot of good traction worldwide and it’s going to be exciting for us to be part of its first season in North America.”

Winward/HTP outlines CTSC plan

Winward/HTP Motorsport has announced its full 2018 IMSA CTSC programme, with its new Mercedes AMG GT4s, following its run in the 24 Hours of CoTA.

The Houston-based team will run one full-time Techemet AMG GT4 for Russell Ward and Damien Faulkner, with Bryce Ward running a selected number of events in a second car co-driven by HTP regular, Indy Dontje. Ward and his Dutch co-driver will compete at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.

Russell Ward approaches his second full season of IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge racing with an entirely new mindset. “This time last year was a little overwhelming, being my first drive in a professional series. I’m heading into the ‘Roar’ this season with the same respect for the competition, but with more experience and a new found confidence.”

Ward’s partner in the #33 Techemet AMG GT4, Damien Faulkner is confident that the groundwork laid out last season will pay immediate dividends in 2018. “Last season was a building year for us, laying our foundations for the future. With the Mercedes AMG GT4 and our partnership with HTP Motorsport I believe we are in for a fantastically exciting season. We’re planning to hide nowhere and have nothing but the highest of expectations for 2018.”

Drivers set for TeamTGM’s campaign

Another team racing with a pair of new Mercedes AMG GT4s in the 2018 CTSC season – TeamTGM – has announced it’s line-up too.

The 2017 season saw Ted Giovanis team with Guy Cosmo for the full schedule, with Hugh Plumb integrated into the long-distance race events as well as part of the team testing efforts. That strong core will get even more speed and experience with the signing of IMSA veteran Owen Trinkler to the TeamTGM roster for 2018.

Eager to take delivery and put the two Mercedes-AMG GT4 machines through their paces ahead of the 4-hour season-opener at Daytona on January 26, TeamTGM is poised for a strong run in GS Class competition.

“The AMG GT4 is set up more like a GT car since, in many respects, it was based upon the Mercedes-AMG GT3,” said Giovanis. “A lot of the AMG GT3 shines through in the AMG GT4. As such, the driving dynamics will be more like that of a race car. As far as drivability, the car is turbo charged and will have more torque off of the corners which will help in the raceability area relative to the other GS cars.”

28 GS cars entered for the Roar

While much of the focus during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend will be on the WeatherTech runners, it’s also a key weekend for the CTSC teams, who will also get some on-track running before the four-hour season opener at Daytona on the Rolex 24 weekend.

Twenty-eight cars are entered for the Roar in the Grand Sport (GS) class. With seven different manufacturers, this class has experienced tremendous growth, as 2018 marks its first year with all race cars using international GT4 technical regulations.

The defending GS champions, RS1, return with two Porsche Cayman GT4 MRs and will look to begin its quest for a third consecutive title after winning the Street Tuner (ST) class championship in 2016.

Also returning is Motorsports In Action with its two McLaren GT4s piloted by Jesse Lazare, new teammate and previous Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama driver Corey Fergus, Rod Randall and Kenny Wilden. This Canada-based team will look to carry its momentum to the new year after winning the season finale at Road Atlanta in October. C360R also is planning to field a McLaren with returning drivers Matt Plumb and Paul Holton.

Alan Brynjolfsson and VOLT Racing are back for its sophomore season with a Ford Mustang GT4 with Trent Hindman, who brings a previous series championship to the table. Automatic Racing, which scored the underdog win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, also returns with two Aston Martin Vantages.

Ford will continue to be well represented at the Roar with four cars between KohR Motorsports, which scored three wins in 2017, as well as long time partners Roush Performance, and Multimatic Motorsports with series veteran Scott Maxwell.

The Roar also will be the first showing for a few teams making the jump from ST to GS, including BimmerWorld Racing in the new BMW M4 GT4 and Murillo Racing in a Mercedes-AMG GT4. The same holds true for several drivers as well, such as Owen Trinkler, now part of the Team TGM Mercedes-AMG lineup, and longtime duo Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee who will be racing for different teams in 2018, Bodymotion Racing and Multimatic Motorsports, respectively.

New teams on the scene include Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport with two Mercedes-AMG GT4s, Classic BMW/Vess Energy Group with a BMW M4 and AWA with a Ford Mustang.

However, the growth of the Continental Tire Challenge is not only seen in the GS class. Making its Continental Tire Challenge debut this season is TCR, which slots in between GS and ST in performance and has seven race cars on the entry list. Volkswagen, the newest manufacturer to the series, is represented with one Golf GTI, while the remaining teams are fielding Audi RS3 LMS racecars.

Three teams familiar with the series – Murillo Racing, JDC-Miller Motorsports and C360R – are fielding TCR cars this year and are joined by three newcomers – eEuroparts.com Racing, RS Werkes Racing and Rumcastle LLC.

Rounding out the entry list is the ST class, with five cars and all from returning teams. Murillo Racing completes the trifecta with a car in each class, and will be racing alongside two MINI JCWs from the MINI JCW Team, Bodymotion Racing and BimmerWorld Racing in the class.

The Continental Tire Challenge kicks off the Roar weekend with a morning and afternoon practice session on Friday, followed by two additional sessions per day on Saturday and Sunday.

Images courtesy of IMSA