Photo: CTF

IMSA/PWC: 10 Questions with Compass360 team principal Karl Thomson

Leave a comment

We sat down with Compass360 Racing team principal Karl Thomson at Barber Motorsports Park, to get the lowdown on the team’s ambitious 2014 platform of running Subaru WRX-STi and Honda Civic Si programs in both the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Pirelli World Challenge. Thomson, of Toronto, also discusses the C360R team’s dedication to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and Racing4Research.org, as they raise awareness and donations to help end neurofibromatosis (NF), which encompasses a set of distinct genetic disorders that causes tumors to grow along various types of nerves. May is NF Awareness Month.

MotorSportsTalk: How did the process of getting together with the CTF begin and continue into the 2014 program, with the art car?

Karl Thomson: The CTF has been at Daytona specifically around the Daytona 24 Hours, and 2009 was the first full livery year. We started with Ryan Eversley, and we always had some CTF (signage) on Ryan’s car. It sort of spread to the other cars. Jill (Beck) used some events as activation opportunities for kids – our NF Heroes – and to bring local heroes and donors to the track, and get them excited about the end NF program through racing.

This year, the foundation came up with the art car concept, designed by an NF Hero, Jeff Hanson. He’s actually legally blind due to the tumors in his optic nerves. He’s definitely been affected. But he’s amazing and his art is phenomenal – it’s in a few places.

Jill commissioned a piece to wrap the Porsche at the 24. That car ran again at Sebring, so we had two longer races with art on it. If we can do it with IMSA, we can do it over here to extend the program. This gives Jill an opportunity to bring families – I think 37-40 come out on Saturday – as we race. Auctioning the print off also raises awareness for the foundation.

MST: Good timing that the artwork colors match the Compass360 colors!

KT: A lucky happenstance. But the piece of art is quite amazing. I’m the caretaker from the car standpoint.

MST: So when the “NF Heroes” see the car, what does that moment mean to you?

KT: The reality is, sadly, they’re kids dealing with an affliction, it affects their lives negatively and ends it early. To have an event like this, where they can just be kids, sit in the car, be at the event and feel a part of the team, it’s great for them.

MST: Have you had the chance to meet Jeff? 

KT:  Yes. I met him at Daytona. When they had the big unveil with the Park Place car, Dempsey there, the press went bananas. I met him and his parents. We’ll likely do something for him in Kansas as that would be his home race.

MST: The team’s program itself this year is multi-faceted between the Subaru and Civic programs. Why add the Subaru to a tried-and-true car?

KT: Honda doesn’t have a car for GTS/GS really, it doesn’t really fit. So we wanted some experience running in a faster class.

There are some changes coming in (Pirelli World Challenge) TC with TCA, so I want to have a GTS footprint. It’s a good place to be, and the Subaru is a logical car to run. We know Hondas; we have ran Hondas since 2006. The Subaru is a bit more complicated, but it’s interesting because it’s a different kind of car. It’s not a big V8; it’s a 2.5L turbo with four-wheel drive. It gives the class some diversity.

MST: Your Ryans are shifting – Winchester from a Civic to a Subaru and this weekend, Eversley doing the same. How do you think they’ll get on with it?

KT: They’re both pros; Ryan (Eversley) has driven GT3s, Caymans, Winchester, Mustangs for a bit. They’re both pretty adaptable. You can see we’re just around the top 10. The car is a work in progress. It’s a good platform. With a bit more development and having both Ryans available to drive, we’ll get there soon. We ran all Daytona and ran all Sebring; those are 2.5 hour races. We have the reliability, but we don’t have the cooling dealt with. Additionally, we’re not running the max boost yet.

MST: Considering he usually has a co-driver, how do you think Ryan (Eversley) would fare just as a single driver for Barber?

KT: Ryan’s having a good time this weekend. He lives two hours away. One of the reasons we’ve done it here, this is a main CTF center where a lot of research happens (at the University of Alabama-Birmingham).  It’s almost local for him.

MST: Of course he’s not your only driver, since you opted to get behind the wheel this weekend…

KT: The last time I drove was the Daytona 24 in 2013, so it’s fun to be back in a car. That was a GX class Cayman. It’s funny, but it’s fun too since all the Civics are closely matched. There’s the potential for a great battle between us and (Jason) Saini close in the (Mazda) MX-5. There’s four or five us to have a good battle in TC.

MST: How will your TC class rookie, Michael DiMeo, fare this year?

KT: I’m really disappointed in him today; I had such high hopes (laughter, since I realized DiMeo was sitting right next to him after I asked -TDZ).  No he and I ran within a couple hundredths. He’s never been to the track before. He impressed us, with the second race podium in Houston. He can go for a championship, and rookie-of-the-year. But the reality is I’m having such a great time, I may not get out of the car!

MST: Lastly, on the new TCA class, how do you think they will fit into the PWC class structure?

KT: They’re less of an issue than the TCB. They’re very similar in corners but we’re quicker on straights. You hit TCB guys, if you come up in the wrong spot, you’re toast. But I think the TCA class will be a good addition.

As this interview took place before the Pirelli World Challenge races in Barber, DiMeo won the TC race Saturday with Thomson’s car retiring due to a mechanical. Eversley finished 12th and eighth in the two GTS races. The C360R team resumes with multiple Civic Sis in ST, and the Winchester/Ray Mason Subaru WRX-STI in GS, at this weekend’s Continental Tire race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Ricciardo, Magnussen get updated Renault power units for Monaco

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 17:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia drives the  Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer as he exits the pit lane during day one of Formula One testing at Circuit de Catalunya on May 17, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen will race with updated power units at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix after Renault allocated one to each of the teams it supplies.

Red Bull and Renault tested the updated power unit in Barcelona last week ahead of its planned introduction at the Canadian Grand Prix.

However, the test went so well that Renault decided to bring forward its debut to Monaco, giving one updated power unit to each of its teams.

Red Bull decided to give the more experienced Ricciardo the updated power unit first despite Max Verstappen’s victory in Spain two weeks ago, while Renault has given its own one to Magnussen, who is ahead of Jolyon Palmer in the drivers’ championship.

Reports from testing suggested that the new power unit could be worth several tenths of a second, giving both teams a boost heading into the Monaco weekend.

Verstappen and Palmer will receive the second batch of updated power units for the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Haryanto uncertain of seeing out season with Manor

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 15: Rio Haryanto of Indonesia and Manor Racing before the drivers parade ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rio Haryanto has conceded that he is not certain of finishing the current Formula 1 season with Manor due to a shortfall in funding.

Haryanto became Indonesia’s first F1 driver when he made his debut in Australia with Manor, having been announced in its second seat over the winter.

The ex-GP2 driver enjoys significant backing from the Indonesian government, but recently launched a fan campaign to raise more funds for his racing.

Speaking in Monaco ahead of this weekend’s race, Haryanto admitted that he is not sure that he will finish the season with Manor, although he remains hopeful of sticking around.

“I hope that I can be here in my position for the full season,” Haryanto said.

“There are rumors that I can only do half of the season, but my management are working really hard to get the full season.

“My main goal is to focus on the job each race to do my best and we’ll see what happens. I’ve been hearing the rumors and, to be honest, I don’t know beyond that. I don’t know, it’s all kept on the Indonesian government side.”

Haryanto is refusing to dwell on the speculation, instead focusing on doing the best job possible for Manor.

“It’s important to leave that aside and just do my best, drive the car as quickly as possible, to work with the team,” Haryanto said.

“There’s the possibility of a lot more to come and to be able to compete with Pascal [Wehrlein], he’s a good reference. I’ll just keep it up.”

Speaking to Reuters, Haryanto’s manager confirmed that his current funding ensures he’s racing until the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July.

“The sponsorship is all paid for up until the 11th race,” Piers Hunnisett said.

“No problem there. That’s fully paid. It’s just the process in Indonesia with the government.

“I think in the next couple of weeks, and hopefully before Canada, we’ll get something confirmed.”

Should Haryanto lose his seat, it could pave the way for American driver Alexander Rossi to return to F1 in a full-time role.

Rossi raced in five grands prix at the end of 2015 before losing his seat and stepping down into a reserve role with Manor that he balances with a full-time drive in IndyCar.

Rosberg: Relationship with Hamilton unchanged after Spain clash

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP in the Drivers Press Conference during previews to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nico Rosberg believes that his relationship with Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton has not changed despite their clash on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Rosberg and Hamilton crashed into each other just four corners into the race in Barcelona, ending Mercedes’ winning streak and leaving it without points.

Both the team and the FIA agreed that neither driver was completely to blame for the clash, but it did appear to stoke the fire between Hamilton and Rosberg once again.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Rosberg said that the clash has done nothing to change his relationship with Hamilton and that both have moved on.

“It’s now a thing of the past. I’m not thinking about it any more,” Rosberg said.

“We’ve been through it and now looking forward and just concentrating on Monaco. I want to try and win here and that’s it.

“If we’ve spoken or not, as always, that needs to be kept internally. What I can say is that between the two of us, it’s a thing of the past now. We’re moving on with everything.

“The relationship is the same as before. Nothing’s changed.

“Going out on track, I’m not going to thinking about Barcelona. I’m going to be doing the same as always, going flat out and trying to win this grand prix.”

Rosberg has won the last three grands prix in Monaco, meaning that victory on Sunday would draw him level with Ayrton Senna for the most consecutive wins in the principality.

“I’m aware of the statistics of course, but it’s not something I’m concentrating on or even thinking about,” Rosberg said.

“What I want to do is win this race because it’s Monaco and I love winning here. That’s what I’m thinking about.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is live across NBC, NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend.

Honor, privilege to call 100th Indy 500 not lost on Goodyear, Cheever

Two-time Indy 500 runner-up Scott Goodyear has formed a F4 team with two others that will race in 2016.
Cheever and Goodyear in 2001, then teammates. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

The rare opportunity to call the television broadcast of the 100th Indianapolis 500 is not something lost on Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr., who share the ABC broadcast booth with Allen Bestwick for their Verizon IndyCar Series telecasts.

Though fans may not see it and may critique their style and dynamic, both Goodyear and Cheever – two past drivers – have truly committed themselves from both preparation and presentation standpoints.

Goodyear celebrates his 15th consecutive call of the ‘500 this year, having been on air every year since 2002. His last start as a driver came in 2001, when Sarah Fisher and he collided on the first lap, which left Goodyear with a back injury.

The chance to call the ‘500 in 2002 came as a surprise then – Goodyear had had his first race call six years earlier under unusual circumstances at the 1996 U.S. 500 in Michigan – and the Carmel, Ind.-based Canadian admitted he’s surprised he’s been able to carry on the call this long.

“When I started this in 2002, after I got crashed out in 2001 at Indy and broke my back for the second time, they came to me and said ‘Why don’t you become an (TV) analyst?’” Goodyear told NBC Sports.

“I let it go for a few months and then they came back to me in November and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try it for a year.’

“The kids were growing up and I’d been away from them so much (while racing). I wanted to slow down a little bit and my wife said, ‘You might enjoy it,’ so I signed for one year. And I really didn’t think it would be going on as long as it is.”

Cheever’s entry into the broadcast booth at Indy came six years later, in 2008, 10 years after his 1998 Indy race win. His last ‘500 start came in 2006, and this is his ninth ‘500 call.

He described his preparation process for the race.

“It’s an honor and great privilege to call the 100th,” Cheever told NBC Sports. “I have looked at the first race and from there it’s about studying whatever film I can see, whatever photographs I can look at, and whatever books I can read.

“I’ve dived into the first one, the Ray Harroun race, to look at it both from a driver and from the fans’ perspective, and gone from there.”

Being part of an Indy 500 TV broadcast is a lot like being behind the wheel, Goodyear said.

“You’re not driving a race car, but in a way a lot of it is wrapped around like driving a race car,” Goodyear explained. “In a race car, it’s going, going, going and you’re multitasking. When the light goes yellow, you’re talking to your pit lane and have a conversation about what you’re going to do when it goes back to green.

“In television, when it goes on-air live, you’re going, going, going and multi-tasking because you’re watching everything that’s going on, and then when it goes yellow and you go to a commercial, you’re talking with the truck, not the pit box, and you’re coming up with what’s coming up in the future.”

Goodyear’s learned quite a lot about TV in the process.

“For me, it was an adrenaline rush in a sense, and I’ve learned a lot about television as I’ve gone through and how to get to our demographics and our fans,” he said.

“The thing is, I just didn’t think I’d be doing it as long as I am. It’s gone by quickly and on the other side, I now have more respect for the drivers and what I did because I didn’t realize it when I was doing it.

“You’re so consumed by it and you think it’s natural and that a lot of people can do it, and then the world’s going slow for you at Indy driving over 230 mph.

“I now have more respect being in the booth, watching what’s going on, how close the wheels are on oval races and how hard it is to win. So I have much more of a respect for our sport now in television than I probably had when I was driving.”

For Goodyear, who famously came up short three different ‘500s (1992, 1995 and 1997), having the opportunity to understand what race morning is like from another perspective is what makes the race for him.

“The overall event makes the race for me, in a sense. I didn’t know all the spectacle and pageantry that went on with the 500,” he admitted.

“The first year I did it, I was working it with Paul Page. He said to come early and see everything’s going on. … So I came early and I see from 6 o’clock (a.m.) onwards, everything starts to fill in, the people start to fill in, it’s like a time image. I said, ‘Hey look at this!’ and he let me go on for an hour. He said, ‘I told you’, and it was like I get it.

“Jim Nabors was there singing ‘Back Home Again In Indiana’, there was the National Anthem and the flyover – if you didn’t get goosebumps and something rushing through your body, you don’t have a pulse. To me, this was a much bigger event than I realized when I was driving it. It’s really pretty cool.”

Cheever, the 1998 winner, reflected on the fact the commentators have to understand the importance of the race because they’re a huge part in living and telling history.

“I think the Indianapolis 500 is one of the great American institutions,” he said.

“There’s not many events that have even half the longevity. We just celebrated the 50th Super Bowl. It’s something the whole world knows as very American.

“It’s a document left long after I’m gone.”