High Temps and Hard work on Track at Watkins Glen for TC America
This past weekend’s SRO/TC America event at the renowned Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York proved to be challenging for the L.A. Honda World Racing Team.
Qualifying difficulties, mechanical issues, and slow in-race pace or performance problems hampered the team at times during the three-day event. Still, despite all of those challenges, each of L.A. Honda World Racing’s three drivers ultimately finished with respectable fourth-place finishes in at least one of the weekend’s two races.
Here's a breakdown of how the three-man L.A. Honda World Racing team of Spencer Bucknum in the TCA Class, Mat Pombo in TC and Mike LaMarra, who started in TC on Friday and then switched to TCA for Sunday’s finale, performed:
Bucknum appeared to be heading for a great weekend when he was second-quickest in the first practice session Friday morning, and then came back a few hours later to lead all TCA cars in the second and final practice period. After qualifying third, Bucknum appeared headed to the checkered flag in Race 1, taking the lead past the mid-point of the 40-minute event and looking very strong. Unfortunately, with about six minutes remaining, he experienced a tire issue, forcing him to limp back to the pits for service, and eventually finished in fourth place, two laps down. Then in Race 2 on Sunday, the third-generation racer started from the pole but was hampered by slight contact at the beginning of the race that lead to some mechanical issues and finished a disappointing 10th, six laps off the pace.
"This weekend at Watkins Glen was full of ups and downs. We were very quick all weekend and had the pace to win, however we just didn't get the results to show it due to things out of our control. As always, the LA Honda World team did a tremendous job and I wouldn't be able to do this without them. This team deserves to be on the top stop every weekend and I know a win is just around the corner!" said Bucknum.
Pombo had difficulties in both practice sessions in TC, qualified eighth and also finished eighth in Race 1 (two laps down). But he bounced back in Race 2 on Sunday to finish with a strong fourth-place showing, just barely missing a podium finish after starting from the back of the pack due to an engine change after Race 1.
LaMarra’s TC car seemed like it was possessed by gremlins. He struggled during both practice sessions on Friday, also in qualifying on Saturday (ninth), and then recorded a DNF in Race 1 a few hours later due to mechanical failure on the first lap (10th-place finish, 17 laps down). The team then decided on a bold strategy, parking his TC car and putting LaMarra in a TCA car usually driven by team Principal Biundo for Sunday’s Race 2. Having not qualified the TCA car, LaMarra was forced to start from the back of the pack, yet did an outstanding job, finishing fourth.
“The team had a tough weekend at Watkins Glen, despite working tirelessly over the last few weeks readying the cars,” LaMarra said. “We took the lessons we learned at VIR (the previous race weekend, June 17-19, at Virginia International Raceway) into the short break and made several updates and improvements to the cars, but a few little gremlins still got the best of us.
“As a result, we had to retire the 73 on the first lap of Race 1 and then for the entire weekend. Making the best of the bad luck, the team prepared the No. 77 so I was able to start Race 2 in the TCA class. The No. 77 Honda Civic SI TCA was a blast to drive and a very capable racer and we were able to move up from our starting position to finish P4.
“Thanks to team owner Mario Biundo and to the entire L.A. Honda World Racing team for the opportunity.”
This past weekend marked the start of the second half of the 14-race SRO / TC America season with Races 7 and 8. The next pair of events, Races 9 and 10, will be held during the August 19-21 weekend at Road America in Central Wisconsin.
Also, L.A. Honda World Racing’s IMSA program has one last event on its schedule: the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
To catch free replays of both of this past weekend’s races at Watkins Glen, go to YouTube at GT World.
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