ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – After a difficult few Pirelli World Challenge races, Colin Thompson was a part of the post-race ceremonies once again, collecting two Best Start of the Race awards and a Hard Charger honor at Road America.
Thompson and the K-PAX Racing team knew Road America, with its long straights, would be an uphill battle for the McLaren 650S GT3. Thompson’s 17th-place qualifying position for Saturday’s race confirmed those fears, but he had 50 minutes of caution-free racing to make the best of it.
Pushing hard on the start, Thompson picked up three positions before Turn Three, earning the Optima Batteries Best Start Award.
“The start was really hairy,” Thompson said. “I ended up splitting the wall and a Porsche. As you start going up the hill out of the final turn, the wall gets closer and closer. That wall was jutting toward me as I was side-by-side with the Porsche. After the team saw the video they went and checked the end plates on my wing to see if there were rub marks because it was that close! I was able to lock another two positions in by the time I got to Turn Three. Overall, it was really clean even though chaos was happening all around me. I didn’t touch anybody and was able to move past three cars.”
Unfortunately, Thompson was unable to advance any further due to an issue with his No. 13 K-PAX Racing Pfaff/McLaren Toronto McLaren 650S GT3 that forced him to pit multiple times. He ended up finishing 22nd. The K-PAX team worked hard overnight to sort out the issue and Thompson had a much more fruitful Race 2 on Sunday.
Starting from 17th, Thompson managed to have an even better start on Sunday, picking up five positions on the opening lap.
“I did the exact same move as Race 1, going between the wall and a different Porsche,” Thompson said. “That actually got me two positions. I was able to grab another spot by the time I got to Turn One. I got a run going into Turn Three and got another two guys. I passed five cars the first lap!”
It just got better from there as Thompson proceeded to work his way up through the field, all the way to seventh in class and eighth overall. It was the best result the team could have hoped for on a track unsuited to the McLaren’s aero strengths.
“When you have a start at Road America, you really need to work it out by the time you get to Turn Three, because after that, its all about the draft and top speed and that was something we were lacking,” Thompson explained. “I knew I had to get a good run and build a gap out of Three, so I could secure my spot going into Turn Five and then just work on growing the gap and catching the next guy.”
Once again, Thompson collected the Best Start of the Race Award, but he also earned the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for advancing more positions in the race than any other driver.
Coming away from the Road America weekend with three special awards was just the boost Thompson needed at the halfway point in the Pirelli World Challenge season and heading into the next round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 29 – 31.
You can watch Thompson slice through the field at Road America, on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, July 3, at 3pm ET.