Thompson Maintains Third Position in Carrera Cup North America Championship After Challenging Weekend at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, NY
Thompson and team JDX Racing visited Watkins Glen International this past weekend for Rounds 5 & 6 of Carrera Cup North America. Entering the event following a win at Circuit Of The Americas last month, Thompson had the highest expectations for the weekend. Unfortunately, a track boundary violation in Qualifying put Thompson on his back foot early in the weekend, and the team was challenged to adjust for a newly designed Michelin slick tire released at the event. Nevertheless, seventh-place and sixth-place race finishes on the weekend critically allow Thompson to maintain his third-place position in the overall championship standings as the season nears its halfway point.
An updated Michelin slick tire that debuted on the rear of all Carrera Cup cars played a critical role throughout the event. The new tire delivered improved performance, but it also showed different characteristics on track for some teams. In the case of Thompson and JDX Racing, data earned during test sessions earlier in the year was at odds with the behavior seen from the new tire throughout the weekend. Setup adjustments were required throughout the weekend as the team looked to reconcile the new parts with their existing setup.
Demonstrating the adaptability he has earned a reputation for, Thompson showed excellent pace in early practice sessions and clocked top-five times through Qualifying. Review of the session however, revealed that the #9 JDX Racing Carrera Cup had exceeded track limits at a critical moment. The resulting penalty reduced Thompson’s top qualifying time by more than four-tenths of a second, slotting him into starting positions of P7 for Race 1 and P4 for Race 2.
The team strategically chose to capitalize on their stronger starting position in Race 2, reserving a fresh set of tires exclusively for the Saturday race. During racing action though, Thompson and the #9 car struggled with overall pace and could not sustain forward momentum. In Race 2, the advantage of his improved start position was eradicated when he was out-positioned in dense traffic on the opening lap. The final results showed seventh and sixth-place finishes, totaling nineteen points toward the series championship.
With eight of fourteen races on the season calendar remaining, pressure rises as the field behind Thompson closes in on his 3rd place overall standing. Ahead of Thompson, the gap widens. Thus far, he is one of only two drivers who have managed to take a win away from championship points leader, Kay Van Berlo. Thompson will look to do that once more when action resumes on August 6th at Road America.
“This Carrera Cup North America series is one of the most competitive series I’ve seen, and there is simply no margin for error. Unfortunately, this weekend we weren’t at our best, and our competitors punished us for it. We’ll take what we can from that and be ready to capitalize for the eight races that remain. With JDX Racing, Porsche Canada, Byers Porsche, Renier Construction, Surgere, and SSi Artificial Lift, we’ve got a committed and capable team behind us, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish.”
Images credit Bob Chapman, Autosport Image