Driver pairing swap at Road America
LA Honda World Racing (LAHWR) officials came into this past weekend’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Road America in Central Wisconsin looking to shake things up to potentially improve the two teams’ overall chances.
Because the No. 37 Honda Civic FL5 TCR of Ryan Eversley and Mat Pombo has struggled this season, LAHWR officials decided to pair Eversley with Mike LaMarra (usually paired with Will Tally) in the No. 37, while Pombo was paired with Will Tally (usually paired with Mike LaMarra) in the No. 73 Honda Civic FL5 TCR.
"Awesome weekend at Road America! First off, gotta thank my LA Honda World team and JAS Motorsport for the rocket ship. We were top 3 all weekend on the charts in practice. William Tally drove a great qualifying to a great lap with limited practice laps. Unfortunately, a RF shock failed in qualifying and with this being a new car HPD didn’t have any replacements stateside so we didn’t get to race yesterday. It’s one of the unfortunate aspects of racing when you are the developmental team for the new Honda Civic FL5 and replacement parts are still limited in supply. We will gear up again in 3 weeks at Virginia International Raceway at one of my 2 home races. Looking forward to it. Was awesome to have my oldest Eli at the track with me this weekend", Pombo said.
“We’ve had terrible luck this year, so maybe splitting us up and letting us help each other at the end, we’re kind of searching for a little bit of luck,” Pombo added. “We’ve been fast. Can’t thank the team enough, they’ve put in a lot of great effort.
“We feel like we’ve learned a lot about this car. It’s a great customer car, should sell a lot of cars and is easy to drive.”
Eversley and Pombo came into the weekend having won the pole in five of the six previous events. But that would not be the case in the new pairing between Eversley and LaMarra and Pombo and Tally.
Sunday’s Road America 120 race – a two-hour timed event – proved tough for the LAHWR team on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course in Central Wisconsin.
“The car is super-fast,” Pombo said of Road America’s new surface. “This new surface has so much grip online. … The (surface) is smooth, the car is super-fast. Road America is awesome.
“I went down to check out the outside of the carousel and they’ve got shade down there. This place is one of my favorites but they’ve really upped their game.”
First, the good news: the performance of the No. 37 LAHWR Honda Civic FL5 TCR of Eversley and LaMarra. With Eversley driving the anchor element in Sunday’s race, he roared back from eighth late in the contest to finish a strong and impressive fifth.
Now, for the No. 73 Honda Civic FL5 TCR, driven by Tally and Pombo, was unable to take the green flag to start the race due to shock absorber issues incurred late in Saturday’s session that could not be fixed.
As a result, it left Tally and Pombo in spectator roles on Sunday instead of being able to make some noise on-track.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t work out too well, they had a shock (absorber) problem with the 73 car,” Eversley explained about his teammates’ car. “This place is one of the coolest tracks we go to, but it’s also real hard on cars.”
Added Tally, “The right front shock failed during qualifying and unfortunately Honda/HPD doesn’t have a spare stateside. With no way to repair the car, Mat and I had to sit on the sidelines for Sunday’s two-hour event.”
During Saturday afternoon’s qualifying, Eversley put the No. 37 seventh in the starting grid with a time of 2:18.427 (at 105.273 mph).
As for the No. 73 Honda Civic FL5 TCR, Tally put the car in the 12th position on the 14-car grid with a time of 2:20.362 (at 103.822 mph).
While the LAHWR team’s crew worked for several hours afterward on Saturday night to try and gain more speed, it was a situation where when one problem was fixed, another problem reared its ugly head and the No. 73 was unable to get going during Sunday’s race.
In the first practice on Saturday morning, LaMarra and Eversley were third-quickest, covering the 14-turn layout in a time of 2:18.316, about ¾ of a second slower than the fastest of the 14 cars in the TCR field.
Meanwhile, Pombo and Tally were ninth-quickest in the first practice session with a time of 2:18.821.
In the second practice, which took place at Noon CT, Tally (behind the wheel) and Pombo roared to second-quickest on the charts with a time of 2:17.873 (at 105.697 mph), roughly a half-second off the top of the grid.
Meanwhile, LaMarra (handling the driving duties) and Eversley were sixth-quickest at 2:18.260 (at 105.401 mph).
Then came qualifying later in the day, starting at 5 pm CT. The track had cooled off considerably and elapsed times and speeds reflected such.
Unfortunately, both LA Honda World Racing cars were slightly off the pace of most of the rest of the 14-car field.
Eversley and LaMarra qualified seventh at 2:18.427 (at 105.273 mph), while Tally and Pombo were 12th-quickest at 2:20.362 (at 103.822 mph).
The next IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event takes place Aug. 25-27 at Virginia International Raceway, followed by Sept. 15-17 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the season finale Oct. 11-14 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Part of the HRC program, L.A. Honda World Racing is the official race team of L.A. Honda World, a factory-authorized Honda dealership in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, CA.
About L.A. Honda World Racing
L.A. Honda World Racing is an in-house professional racing team based in Southern California and participates in the SRO / TC America racing series exclusively racing touring cars built by HRC. They are also a factory authorized Honda dealer for American Honda Motor Co. www.lahondaworldracing.com
About Honda Racing Corporation US
Honda Racing Corporation US, (HRC), has a rich heritage creating, manufacturing, and supporting Honda Racing and Acura Motorsports customers. From pinnacle racing in Formula 1, INDYCAR, and IMSA Sports Cars to commercial racing programs, HRC powers the dreams of professional and amateur racers from age 4 to 40+. HRC leads all of Honda and Acura's high-performance racing programs in North America. HRC specializes in the design and development of powertrain, chassis, electronics, and performance parts, as well as technical and race support. HRC offers parts and race support to Honda and Acura amateur and professional motorsports racers and is continually expanding its palette of racing programs that make Honda racing products available to all racing styles, from karting and Quarter Midgets to the highest levels of pro racing. For more information, visit hondaracing-us.honda.com