Pole and P3 for New FL5 Honda Civic Type R TCR Debut in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Laguna Seca
It was a combination of a great debut and mechanical gremlins for LA Honda World Racing (LAHWR) in this past weekend’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Weather Tech Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif.
The most notable news was an excellent debut for the new No. 37 LAHWR Civic FL5 TCR, piloted by the duo of Mat Pombo and Ryan Eversley. Driving the anchor half of the timed two-hour race, Eversley brought the No. 37 home with an outstanding third-place finish in the race, just 1.786 seconds behind race winner Mark Wilkens.
“Absolutely thrilled with the result today,” Eversley said. “It was a pretty good pace for a brand-new car. But this track is all about degradation and tire life, and we optimized the setup today not to be the fastest car, but to be the car that was there at the end. … I’m very proud of HPD, LA Honda World, all the Honda fans and of course, my teammate, Mat Pombo, because once again we showed we were the Honda to beat, and that’s the goal every weekend.”
Earlier in the day, Pombo got the team off on the right foot, earning the pole position during qualifying with a time of 0:1.31.782. Competition was tough during the race, but Pombo gave Eversley a strong starting effort and left it to his teammate to wrap things up with the equally strong third-place finish.
“I just want to commend the LA Honda World guys for another fantastic race weekend,” Pombo said. “Getting the car here from Europe, all the testing and all the work that’s been put in, it’s easy for me and Ryan to get in and get all the glory, but there’s a lot of people behind the scenes.
“Thanks to each and every one of you who had a hand on this car because it showed this weekend. We’ve been the fastest Honda every weekend and we got the result today. That’s three podiums in a row for LA Honda World. We’ve just got to keep that rolling.”
In Practice No. 1, Pombo and Eversley were seventh-quickest in the TCR class with a time of 01:33.635, which was just under one second slower than the quickest team and drivers.
In Practice No. 2, the duo was eighth-quickest, just under one second behind the TCR class leader, with a best lap of 01:33.470.
Pombo particularly shined during qualifying, taking the pole position in the TCR class, giving the team a great start when the green flag dropped, and kept the car in contention for a podium finish the rest of the way, which it wound up doing.
But there were also some trying times during the weekend, as several mechanical issues plagued the other half of the LAHWR team, the No. 73 Honda Civic FK7 TCR of William Tally and Mike LaMarra, which finished 10th of the 13 cars entered in the TCR class in Saturday’s race.
Still, Tally was pleased with the team getting the best effort it could out of the car despite the difficulties it faced.
“We had a great start, made a good move on the launch, was able to get to the inside, everybody checked up and I was able to stay on the bumper (of the car ahead of him) and quickly moved up four spots, which was awesome,” Tally said. “The car was real good until the tires went off.
“Once the tires came apart, it dropped pretty quickly. I pitted and gave Mike a good car, but unfortunately just had a technical (malfunction). I think with everything that happened, we really couldn’t have asked for it to go better than it did. I appreciate the guys working so hard. The crew nailed it. Obviously, we had some challenges, but really worked through it, gave us their best effort and it showed because we got some points.”
The No. 73 team was immediately put behind the eight-ball when it failed to take a lap in Practice No. 1 due to mechanical failure. The LAHWR crew went to work to fix the mechanical malady in hopes the team could bounce back with a strong second practice performance, held later Friday afternoon. The No. 37 team was able to get on track, ending up as the 10th-quickest in the TCR class with a best lap of 1:33.871.
Then in qualifying, the No. 73 scored as the 12th-quickest TCR ride out of the 13 cars in the class.
Mario Biundo, Race Team Principal “I am very pleased the #37 JAS built Honda Civic TCR FL5 debuted with an excellent result here in America. Mat Pombo securing a pole position was a surprise but fitting intro. Ryan and Mat finishing the race on the Podium was another exciting moment we did not expect to achieve making this weekend a greater than expected effort.
Whenever you debut a new race car, you have high hopes but are guarded. We have many more races to go and learn this new car. I am happy Mike and Wil in the #73 were able to overcome the challenges we encountered and gain valuable points in the race. They drove smartly and are in striking distance to regain their championship lead. With the partnership of JAS and HPD working arm in arm with us, the season should develop as we vision it - in championship contention”
The next IMSA Michelin PilotChallenge race will be June 23-25 at Watkins Glen International. The TCR class,which LA Honda World Racing competes in, will not compete in the new IMSAstreet course race in downtown Detroit June 2-3, as it will be only for cars inthe GS class. That race replaces the longtime event at nearby Belle IslePark.
Part of the Honda Performance Development 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 and IMSA racing series exclusively racing touring cars built by Honda Performance Development. They are also a factory authorized Honda dealer for American Honda Motor Co. www.lahondaworldracing.com
About Honda Performance Development
Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), has a rich heritage creating, manufacturing, and supporting Honda Racing and Acura Motorsports customers since 1993. From pinnacle racing in INDYCAR and IMSA Sports Cars to commercial racing programs, HPD powers the dreams of professional and amateur racers from age 4 to 40+. HPD is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and leads all of Honda and Acura's high-performance racing programs in North America. HPD specializes in the design and development of powertrain, chassis, electronics, and performance parts, as well as technical and race support. HPD 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 www.hpd.honda.com