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Compass360 Racing race report

St. Pete

COMPASS360 RACING WINS FIRST WORLD CHALLENGE ROUND AT ST. PETERSBURG
Lawson Aschenbach Takes Top Podium Step in Round One; Team Places Three Cars in Top Ten for Race Two

(St. Petersburg, FL) -- Compass360 Racing (C360R) launched its new World Challenge Touring Car program in style this weekend, with 2006 WC GT Champion Lawson Aschenbach leading the team's three-car effort to victory in Round One on Saturday, and following that up with a strong second-place finish during Sunday's Round Two, driving the #71 Honda Civic Si Coupe.

"I really have to thank the team and our sponsors," enthused Aschenbach from the top step of the podium. "Ray Lee, Enrico Dianno and Karl Thomson put all the right pieces into place with the folks at HPD, and I'm so pleased to bring home the win for Honda this weekend."

Saturday's race was marred by a long yellow flag period to clean up a big wreck mid-race. In the Touring Car class, the battle up front was tightly fought between Tristan Herbert in his VW GTI, the Mazda RX-8 of Chip Herr and Aschenbach. Herbert and Herr tangled in the early going, which allowed the #71 car a clean run to the checkered flag, just head of Ronald Zitza in his VW Jetta and Ray Mason's Honda. Meanwhile, Vancouver's Tom Ehlen impressed in his World Challenge debut, and with the guidance of Speed Secrets coach Gord Bentley, did a great job keeping out of the fracas and bringing his #72 Honda home just outside the top-ten, in 12th.

One of the drivers caught out in the melee was Florida native and fellow Honda driver Shea Holbrook. With her car damaged beyond repair, she joined C360R, making use of the team's spare car, badging it with her #67 and starting Sunday's race from the back of the field. A local fan, Mike Gilbert, sponsored her for the race, and the car proudly displayed "Gilbert Girls" livery in honour of his daughters, who were also spectating at the event.

Round Two marked a fierce battle between Herbert, Herr, Aschenbach and Zitza, fighting through the sometimes troublesome traffic of the slightly faster GTS cars. Herr and Zitza each retired with mechanical troubles, leaving Herbert and Aschenbach to fight to the checkered flag. "The VW has just phenomenal straight-line speed, and even though I'd catch up in the corners, I wasn't able to stay close enough on the straights to make the pass," noted Lawson, bringing his car home in second.

Ehlen was justifiably thrilled with his ninth place result on Sunday, proving that the measured Speed Secrets approach to racing pays dividends. "I'm just so excited to have been here this weekend, and to bring the car to a top-ten finish for the team," he exclaimed. "Many thanks to Enrico and the crew, as they've given me great support. I can hardly wait until Long Beach!"

Holbrook drove a great race, crossing the line in eighth just ahead of Ehlen, and scoring valuable points for her championship bid. "After the big wreck on Saturday, we were so lucky to be able to sign with Compass360," explained Shea. "All the pieces fit perfectly together, and it wouldn't have happened without Mike and the Gilbert Girls!"

Three C360R cars in the top ten on Sunday is a great result for the team, and all of the Hondas return to their Toronto-based headquarters with nary a mark on them. Aschenbach leads the championship driver standings, and Honda is the top Manufacturer. "This was a pretty much perfect first event for us," noted Team Principal Karl Thomson. "It's a great start to our World Challenge program, and we really enjoyed the atmosphere in St. Pete's."

The team also continued its fundraising efforts for the Children's Tumor Foundation's Racing4Research program, which uses race weekends to help kids and families living with neurofibromatosis (NF). Be sure to show your support and donate at http://racing4research.org.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised tape-delayed on Versus, and will also be available on-line at http://world-challengetv.com.

Compass360 Racing's next event is Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge's Barber 200 from Birmingham, Alabama on April 7-9th. The third World Challenge round from Long Beach, California follows shortly thereafter on April14-17th.

- source: compass360

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