IMSA: Compass Racing brings McLaren 720S to GTD
By Marshall Pruett | RACER magazine and RACER.com sports car correspondent
Compass Racing will break new ground as the first entrant to bring the McLaren marque to IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series. The Canadian outfit has secured the services of renowned sports car racer Matt Plumb and McLaren factory driver Paul Holton as part of a seven-race IMSA GT Daytona Sprint Cup campaign.
“We’re really excited to extend our partnership with McLaren by launching the new 720S GT3 in North America,” said Compass managing director Jill Beck. “Paul has been one of the test drivers on the car through its development over the past year, and we all have high hopes for the first race car developed entirely in-house by McLaren Automotive.”
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Having forged strong ties with McLaren Automotive though its efforts in the former Continental Tire Series, Beck expects the relationship to grow as the two firms tackle IMSA’s top championship for Pro-Am GT3-based cars.
“We’ve enjoyed working closely with McLaren in developing the GT4 car over the past two years, and look forward to continuing that strong relationship over the next few seasons, in both GT3 and GT4,” she added. “The new Sprint Cup is something we’d hoped IMSA would implement, as it provides a perfect ladder for our McLaren program, with steps from GS to Sprint to a full WeatherTech effort.”
The Compass 720S GT3 will make its debut in May as IMSA launches the Sprint Cup championship for GTD cars to host a secondary title opportunity using its non-endurance events. Plumb and Holton will look to earn the inaugural title starting at Mid-Ohio and continue through Detroit, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Lime rock, Road America, VIR, and Monterey, where the winner will be crowned.
Continuing with Plumb and Holton is an important part of the expansion, according to team principal Karl Thomson. The team also plans to continue its efforts in the renamed Michelin Pilot Challenge series, and with past experience in GTD to draw from, Compass will have a busy season ahead as it vies for titles in multiple IMSA categories.
“In developing a new car, driver continuity counts for a lot, and we are pleased to have Matt and Paul working with us on our GT3 program,” he said. “We know the competition in WeatherTech is fierce, but we believe that fifteen straight years of battling in the Michelin Pilot Challenge has prepared us for the fight.”
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