L.A. Honda World Civic Type R TCR - The 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge Recap

October 18, 2019

This year our dealership, L.A. Honda World, became the first factory-authorized Honda dealer to participate in an official IMSA race series -  the 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge.

We entered three Honda Civic Type R TCR vehicles, developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD), operated by LAP Motorsports and powered by L.A. Honda World.

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The blue #37 was piloted by Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock. The red #73 was piloted by Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo. The yellow #52 was piloted by Colin Mullan and Max Faulkner.

The 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge consisted of 10 races across the nation’s most notorious tracks. The series tested the power and strengths of the Civic Type R. Some tracks interacted perfectly with the Type R TCR while others provided opportunities for us further tune them for perfection.  Throughout the ups and downs of the season one sentiment persisted: the Honda Civic Type R TCR is a BEAST. Our team alone was able to accumulate 7 trophies throughout the course of the season thanks to talented drivers and immaculate engineering by Honda and HPD.

The season started with power and grace out of the gate, with L.A. Honda World taking home a 1st and 2nd place finish at the famous Daytona International Speedway.

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Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock celebrate the 1st place finish in Daytona in the blue #37 while Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo hold the 2nd place position in the red #73.

The season continued on a high-note at the other Florida-based track - the second race of the season - Sebring International Raceway.

Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock secured another 1st place finish, the second in a row for the duo.

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Racers Tom O’Gorman (left) and Shelby Blackstock (right) with team president Mario Biundo (middle) and LAP Motorsport founder Luis Perocarpi (front) celebrating their 1st place finish at Sebring International Raceway.

Mid-Ohio, the 3rd stop on the journey, gave us an opportunity to find ways to improve the vehicles. This led to a 1st place victory in Watkins Glen, this time achieved by the red #73 with Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo.

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Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo holding their 1st place trophies from the finish at Watkins Glen International in the red #73.

Things kept rolling at the only international stop on the mostly-U.S. based series at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Canada.

Colin Mullan and Max Faulkner were able to pull their first podium of the season with a strong second place finish at the Canadian track.

Colin Mullan and Max Faulkner celebrating their 2nd place finish in Canada. Afterwards, Colin Mullan enjoyed non-alcoholic champagne, as this upcoming racing professional is only 17 years old.

Lime Park proved to be challenging for the team with some mechanical issues with the vehicles. The Civic Type R TCR performed well itself, with 4th, 5th and 6th place finishes in Lime Park, with 6th being earned by Colin Mullan and Max Faulkner.

Things turned around again at Road America, where Shelby Blackstock earned the blue #37 a pole position. Shelby and Tom O’Gorman were able to pull in a 2nd place podium finish. What made it even sweeter was the decision to stay on slicks, while finishing faster in full wet conditions.

Shelby Blackstock celebrating his pole position finish at Road America and Tom O’Gorman with Shelby Blackstock celebrating their 2nd place podium finish.

Virginia International Raceway was the 8th race in the series and was a very close one. Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock were very close to finishing with a strong podium when a vehicle pushed them off the track while battling for the lead.

They made up for it during the homecoming in Laguna Seca, where they earned a 3rd place finish.

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