CARNAGE TAKES OUT ALL THREE KENSAI/COMPASS360 CARS It was a challenging weekend for the Kensai Racing with Compass360 Acuras at Mid-Ohio. Especially challenging since all three cars showed good speed all weekend, with the team's TSX's within the...
CARNAGE TAKES OUT ALL THREE KENSAI/COMPASS360 CARS
It was a challenging weekend for the Kensai Racing with Compass360 Acuras at Mid-Ohio. Especially challenging since all three cars showed good speed all weekend, with the team's TSX's within the top five in nearly every session. Good results, following closely on the team's emotional home-track win at Mosport a week earlier, seemed certain.
Aaron Povoledo qualified the #75 TSX in outside-pole position, showing great form and consistency, while Karl Thomson put his #76 TSX in sixth place, his best qualifying position of the year. David Ciekiewicz continued to improve in the #74 RSX-S, qualifying 22nd.
At the fall of the checkered flag, Povoledo stayed with polesitter Tyler Givogue in his #53 Cobalt, and had made his way into the lead within the first few corners. Thomson, meanwhile, was locked in a battle with the #95 BMW 330 of Trevor Hopwood and the #86 BMW Z4 of Toby Grahovec. Heading into the keyhole corner, he was right behind the two as they went side-to-side into the tight right-hand hairpin when he was tagged by another car and was pushed off the track. Thomson hit the rumble strips on the inside of the track and was launched into the side of the Turner car, breaking a part of the TSX's front left suspension.
"We were set up for a great battle with our main rival for the championship," remarked Thomson. "We've raced cleanly, side-by-side all season long with the Turner guys, and Mid-Ohio looked to be another good fight. But I got slammed in the rear and pushed into the #95, which damaged both of our cars. It was an awful start to the race and it screws up the championship for both of us."
The team affected repairs to the #76 Acura, and co-driver Billy Johnson took the car out to try and salvage some much-needed championship points. Johnson did a truly remarkable job of keeping the car on track, turning somewhat astonishingly competitive times with a suspension that was bent, toed in and out the wrong way, and a front left tire rubbing on the wheel well in the left-handers. "It was a handful, that's for sure," noted Johnson. "I did my best to work through the slower traffic while staying out of the way of the leaders." Billy's great effort moved the 76 car up into 29th place before a driveshaft finally gave out, sidelining the Acura for good. "It's a real shame, because we had a car that was really capable of winning today. Karl and I had the pace to run up front, and to get taken out like this is just awful."
Unfortunately, the weekend wasn't to get any better for the Kensai/ Compass360 team, as the team's #75 was involved in a mid-race tangle with one of the Roar Racing RX-8s that was spun around in Mid-Ohio's famous Carousel corner. Povoledo had handed the TSX to co-driver Beau Buisson after leading the field for 22 laps. "The car was perfect. Easy to drive and it was really good through Madness," said Povoledo.
"I was behind the two cars through the Carousel," stated Buisson. "The RX-8 left the door open and the other car went inside, but then the door was closed. The Mazda spun and I tried to go around the outside, but brushed the left-side wall going on to the straight." The front left hub was damaged, and although Buisson continued to turn good laps, the 75 car retired on lap 54, marked in 28th place.
Meanwhile, the #74 Acura RSX-S, which Dave Ciekiewicz had qualified mid-pack, had managed a storming run through the field. "I finally figured the car out and was picking cars off easily," chuckled Ciekiewicz. "I had a great time at Mid-Ohio this weekend!" Dave gave the RSX-S to co-driver Matt Pritiko (who is in seventh place in the driver's standings going into the race) in seventh place, on lap 25. Pritiko worked the field, but was hit by the #53 Cobalt driven by Kuno Wittmer, which put Matt off the track and in the tire wall on lap 31. Pritiko soldiered on for two more laps, but the oil cooler had been destroyed, putting paid to what was sure to be another good result for the young Londoner. The #74 car was credited with 31st place.
"There was way too much carnage this weekend," said Crew Chief Ray Lee. "Our cars were running up front, in all three cases, and were put out through damage from other cars. It's really sad, because all of our cars should have been in the top ten this weekend."
Thomson and Johnson slip to eight points behind the Turner duo of Hopwood and Burrows in the championship, but are still in second place and within striking distance, while Pritiko is still well inside the top ten on his Rookie year. The three team Acuras will be ready for the next battle, at the fabled Watkins Glen race track in upstate New York, on July 6-7th, as part of the IRL event there that weekend. It promises to be three days of great racing, with the ST and GS classes combined for just the second time this season!