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Aug 05, 2014 - 04:03 PM
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Thompson Comfortable at Long and Fast Road America
Posted by: newsla on Aug 05, 2014 - 04:01 PM
Sports Cars
Thompson Comfortable at Long and Fast Road America


Only one third of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season remains and next on the roster for Colin Thompson is the fast and lengthy Road America. The circuit presents numerous challenges, but the Championship leader is feeling confident about his upcoming trip to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

 

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It’s been nearly a month since Thompson last raced his No. 14 Porsche of Bucks County Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, but the 20-year old Pennsylvania native kept busy with a different kind of racing. As a partner of the Austin Hatcher Foundation, Thompson made a trip to the Hershey Children’s Hospital to cheer kids up with some pinewood derby car racing. It’s an experience he plans to continue throughout the year.

Thompson finally gets behind the wheel this week at Road America. The 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course is hundreds of miles away from Thompson’s hometown, but is in his team’s backyard. Kelly Moss Motorsports operates out of Madison, Wis., only a two-hour drive from Road America.

“This is definitely a home race for the team,” Thompson said. “Kelly Moss Motorsports is based nearby in Madison. That gives me a lot of confidence going into this race weekend, because they know the track inside and out. It’s good to have that experience; (team owner) Jeff [Stone] and the boys already know what to expect from the race track and what trends we might see through the weekend.”

Thompson himself is no stranger to Road America having raced in USF2000 and Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup events there, plus last year’s GT3 Cup races. In 2013 he collected sixth and fifth-place finishes.

“I’ve been here a few times before and logged a lot of miles on iRacing,” Thompson said. “I know the track pretty well. We just need to get the right setup going, because none of us have been on this track with the new 991 model GT3 Cup car.”

Road America is the longest circuit the GT3 Cup series visits, which Thompson predicts will make for a bigger discrepancy in the front and back of the field, and will make qualifying a crucial game of focus.

“When you’re talking about a track that long, you’re thinking about consistency and certainly in qualifying you have to think about putting together not just one, but a series of perfect laps,” Thompson said. “If you mess up a corner at Lime Rock, hang on 30 seconds and you’ll get another crack at it, here, it’s a much longer wait because it’s four times the length. You really have to be on your game and there’s quite a lot of corners on the track. A hundredth of a second off in every corner adds up to a lot of time, so I think you’ll see the field spread out a lot more and the lap times too, compared to what we saw at Mosport.”

Critical for the race will be Thompson’s ability to work the drafting game. Road America’s long straights all end in 90-degree corners making for prime passing opportunities.

“Drafting is huge here,” Thompson smiled. “There’s more or less three major straightaways; coming out of the last corner and into Turn One, Turn Three to Turn Five and then coming out of The Kink to Canada Corner. Those are three big straightaways where we’ll probably see the highest speeds of the year unless Road Atlanta proves us wrong.”

It’s long straightaways, ample passing zones and mix of corners have made the circuit a favorite amongst many race drivers. For Thompson, it’s the run between Turn 12 (Canada Corner) and Turn 14 that provide the most fun.

“The Kink (Turn 11) is always a thrill, but really I’d actually say my favorite part of the track is from Canada Corner into the left-hander up the hill. I’m not sure why. A lot of people probably wouldn’t name that their favorite part of the track, but I think it’s a blast to drive. I always seem to be quick there.”

What was originally scheduled to be a two-race event has grown into a three-race weekend for the GT3 Cup Series. To make up the rained out raced at Lime Rock Park, the Series has added a third race to the Road America schedule. Race 1 is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9, at 6:05 p.m. CT, then on Sunday, Aug. 10, Race 2 begins at 9:50 a.m. and Race 3 has been added at 5 p.m. Live timing will be available at www.imsa.com and watch FansChoice.TV for a schedule of live GT3 Cup web broadcasts.

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