THOMSON AND JOHNSON LOOK TO REGAIN GRAND-AM ST CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AT TROIS RIVIERES Billy Johnson and Karl Thomson are keen to take another win at Quebec's famous Trois Rivieres street course this coming weekend, and retake the Grand-Am KONI ...
THOMSON AND JOHNSON LOOK TO REGAIN GRAND-AM ST CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AT TROIS RIVIERES
Billy Johnson and Karl Thomson are keen to take another win at Quebec's famous Trois Rivieres street course this coming weekend, and retake the Grand-Am KONI Challenge ST-class lead in the process. In what has been a season-long see-saw battle with the Turner Motorsports BMW of duo Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood, Johnson and Thomson (driving the #76 Kensai Racing with Compass360 Acura TSX) find themselves a scant six points back of their main rivals.
"Trois Rivieres is a unique circuit," notes Thomson. "It's the only 'street course' that KONI visits, and that brings its own challenges. The cars get hot, brakes wear out, and as a driver you are always reminded of the ever-present concrete walls that surround the track." Brake conservation will be key, as will car and tire management. "I know Billy's ready for the challenge, as he's done a simply amazing job all season long, bringing home two of our wins on the very last lap, and we are excited to put on a good show for another group of Canadian fans."
"This is one of the events that the drivers and teams really look forward to," commented Crew Chief Ray Lee. "The fans here are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable -- they really love street stock road racing!" In fact, the entire town of Trois Rivieres gets involved, shutting down its main street for much of the weekend, with drivers, crew and fans mingling on the historic thoroughfare, enjoying the unique atmosphere of this kind of venue.
Thomson is just one of a number of the Toronto-based team's Canadian drivers who will compete in the event. Team-mate Matt Pritiko will pilot the Kensai/Compass360 #74 Acura RSX-S with Floridian David Tuaty, while Quebecer Benoit Theetge will join Atlanta's Beau Buisson in the #75 TSX. "Trois Rivieres is definitely a second-home-track race for us," laughed Lee. "We ran two seasons of FSAQ (the fiercely- competitive Quebec regional road racing series) before moving to KONI, and there are a lot of Kensai fans here!"
The #76 TSX of Thomson and Johnson will introduce a new livery on their car at this event, the result of signing a new sponsor. "This is what we call a 'staged' launch," explains Thomson. "The new paint scheme - which builds on the team's orange and black colours, but in a much more stark and aggressive fashion -- is the starting point, and we'll reveal more over time." He continues, "this is a long-term launch, and is indicative of how our team cars will look for 2008, with the new sponsor as an integral component."
The key at Trois Rivieries, says Thomson, is regaining the ST-class championship lead. "It's been a real roller-coaster of a year!" he says. "We've won at Daytona, Laguna (Seca), Mosport and Watkins Glen -- and I'm so proud that we've been able to do that. But we've been hit and taken out of a bunch of the other races, and so we're still sitting second. Another win, on Canadian soil, at our 'home-away-from- home' would be just awesome!"
The Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres weekend begins with practice on Friday August 17th. The ST-class race is on Saturday at 1:30pm, running for just two hours before the checkered-flag drops. There's little question, then, that this race, which will be televised live locally, will be a real fight-to-the-finish.