KENSAI RACING WITH COMPASS360 LEADS AT LAGUNA SECA Grand Am Cup's event at Laguna Seca proved that the Kensai Racing with Compass360 Acura RSXs have what it takes to run up front, with team cars taking turns leading the race. Surely podiums for...
KENSAI RACING WITH COMPASS360 LEADS AT LAGUNA SECA
Grand Am Cup's event at Laguna Seca proved that the Kensai Racing with Compass360 Acura RSXs have what it takes to run up front, with team cars taking turns leading the race. Surely podiums for both cars are near at hand.
The race began with the #75 RSX of Travis Walker and Aaron Povoledo starting from fourth position in ST class, and the #76 of Karl Thomson and Billy Johnson gridded in 11th. The field was remarkably close, with second through 12th place separated by less than a second.
Walker took the lead of the race early on, dispatching the Georgian Bay Cobalts and Will Turner's #95 BMW with aplomb. He led handily until mid-way through the race when a fuelling problem stranded the car on track. Travis was returned to the pits where the car was re-fired, getting back to the track four laps down.
Thomson, meanwhile had brought the #76 car up to eighth position. Race strategist Alex Bassi made the pit call during a yellow at just under the one-hour mark. This turned out to be the right move, as Billy Johnson ended up in third place after the next round of pit stops, sandwiched between Turner's BMW 330i and Sylvain Tremblay's Mazda RX-8.
A great battle ensued, with Johnson passing the BMW and giving chase to the #68 Speedsource Mazda. He made his way past into first place and opened a good gap, only to be hit by a GS-class BMW M3, which dropped the Acura back to second. A few laps before the end of the race, a GS Porsche roughly ran Billy off-course in turn five, providing some dramatic television coverage. Although the Porsche was penalized for the infraction, the damage was done and Johnson was unable to return to the front, finishing a still-respectable fourth.
"The competition was very close with some great drivers, great teams, and great battles up at the front," said Johnson. "The team gave me an awesome car this weekend and Karl did a great first stint. If it weren¹t for the two hits by the GS cars we should have taken the win."
The Kensai Racing with Compass360 #76 Acura was the highest-placed Acura in the race, which is remarkable considering nearly one third of the ST class is made up of RSXs and TSXs, driven by established talents like Bob Endicott, Roger Foo, Mike Galati, and Hugh and Matt Plumb.
"This just goes to show how important good drivers and detailed preparation have become in Grand Am," said Kensai's Ray Lee. "The Laguna Seca race proved that our RSXs have what it takes to run up front when they're in the right hands. We're proud of the great drives all the guys put in and are looking forward to leading more races this year."
The Kensai Racing with Compass360 Acuras head to Phoenix International Raceway for the Grand Am Cup event there in one week's time. Povoledo and Walker will pair again in the #75 car, with Taz Harvey replacing Thomson (who is unable to make the race due to a business conflict) in the #76.
The Laguna Seca event, which despite having seven yellow flag periods promises to be a great race to watch, can be seen on SPEED TV, May 13th, 2006 at 1:00pm. It airs again on May 15th, 1:00pm.