“We’re really excited to finally announce this new program,” enthused Team Principal Karl Thomson. “It’s something (technical director) Ray Lee and I have been working on since March of last year, when I first sat down with the Audi folks at Sebring.”
The new Audi will bring some new technology to the Continental Tire paddock, with the arrival of both Quattro all-wheel-drive and the DSG S-tronic transmission.
“We’ve been looking at bringing technology that is now becoming commonplace on street cars to this series, and the new S3 is a perfect example of a car we feel fits the Street Tuner class well,” remarked CTSC Senior Technical Manager Jeff Mishtawy.
The team took delivery of two of the first S3s shipped to North America and is already well into their development.
“We expect to be on-track in December with the new cars,” said Lee. “There’s a lot to learn whenever you develop a new platform, but our success with the GS Subaru last season gives us a lot of confidence with an all-wheel-drive platform like the Audi.
“We may choose to run the Hondas at Daytona, and debut the S3s at Sebring, depending upon how early testing goes as we know the Civics are strong on the high-banks.”
The new Audis will run alongside the single No. 76 Grand Sports-class Subaru WRX STi piloted by returning duo Ray Mason and Pierre Kleinubing, while the squad’s existing Honda Civic Sis will continue to run in the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car series.
“We’re still a committed member of the Honda camp for 2015,” said Thomson. “but we feel the S3 gives us the opportunity to forge a strong relationship with Audi, and our long-term plan is to run Audi products in multiple classes in multiple series, including CTSC GS, PWC GTS and GT.”
“It’s exciting to see this program start to come together, and we’re thrilled to add a championship-winning team like Compass360 Racing to the Audi family,” explained Tristan Herbert, Manager of Audi Motorsport and Customer Racing. “Their vision of how they’ll expand their program utilizing our brand is inspiring.”
Kyle Gimple will return for his third season with the team as closing driver in the No. 75 Audi S3.
“After two full seasons as the first driver in a Honda, Kyle is ready to take the next step in his career and close in an Audi,” said Lee. “He finished out 2014 in fine style, winning three races, and putting his car on pole at Road Atlanta. Plus, he closed the show at Lime Rock, finishing second in one of our GS Subarus.”
Gimple will be joined by CTSC Rookie Paul Holton, who is moving over after a solid season in Pirelli World Challenge, winning at Road America and finishing 4th in the final standings.
“Paul impressed us in his TCB debut season, and he’s the latest shoe to join our driver development program,” explained Thomson. “Like Kyle, we plan to have Paul progress through our ranks to become a paid pro. 2015 marks the first year of that program.”
The driver line-up for the No. 74 Audi is expected to be finalized in the next month.
“We’ve been with Honda since 2006, and we’re extremely proud of the incredible success we’ve had together,” said Thomson. “We’ve won three CTSCC Manufacturer titles together, and four consecutively in World Challenge. That’s a big deal and even as we move into the next chapter of our race team, we’re grateful for the support they’ve given us over the years.”