The L.A. Honda World Racing Team had a strong start but a frustrating finish in the first of three IMSA races it is slated to compete in this season.
Noted Portuguese World Touring Car driver Tiago Monteiro, who was imported on a special loan to the LA Honda World Racing Team for this weekend’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Mansfield, Ohio. Monteiro was brought in because the weekend was considered a “home race” for Honda, which has a large manufacturing plant in nearby Marysville, Ohio.
Monteiro and co-driver Mat Pombo made an immediate impact during Friday’s qualifying, earning the pole for Saturday’s race. The other L.A. Honda World Racing squad of Mike LaMarra and Ryan Eversley qualified 11th.
Looking forward to Saturday’s race, Monteiro was excited and optimistic for a strong finish. But that feeling lasted just a few seconds after the green flag fell to start the race, as heading into Turn 2, the No. 37 Honda Civic FK7 TCR was struck from behind and collected into a wreck that occurred in front of it.
“Our race ended too early, unfortunately,” Tiago Monteiro said. “By starting so close to the back markers of the GS category, there’s always a big risk. We knew about it and were careful. But there was a crash in front of me and everybody slowed down to avoid a crash and I couldn’t avoid touching one of the Mercedes cars.
“It’s very frustrating. The team didn’t deserve it. Everyone worked so hard and there’s so much passion in the team. I really wanted to give them a good finish over the weekend. But we’ll have our fight back and I hope we prove again we are quick and strong and prove we can win races again.”
Added Monteiro’s co-driver, Mat Pombo, “Yesterday’s race luck hurt. We had the car to beat and didn’t make it past the second turn at Mid-Ohio. Unfortunately, Tiago … had nowhere to go and our car was too damaged to continue. (The) downside of being on pole is you’re the first car into it. Gotta thank the LA Honda World crew for a great car off the bat. Hate we didn’t get the result we wanted but that’s racing, as they say. We will be back for more!”
“Today wasn’t the result we had hoped for,” LaMarra said. “However, we managed to salvage a reasonable finish. The LA Honda World Team really came together and gave us a great car. This Honda Civic Type R TCR is so fun to drive! We’re grateful for HPD’s support. It is always fun to be with Ryan Eversley and I appreciate his hard work and dedication to our team.”
Added Eversley: “Tough day for us but I’m happy we managed a 6th place finish. Mike unfortunately had contact with another TCR car that ended up filling our radiator with grass. We lost a ton of time during the pit stop and the car was a little sluggish afterwards from the engine overheating but the LA Honda crew did an excellent job prepping our Honda Civics and that was why we were able to come home with a strong result today.”
Team principal Mario Biundo called the weekend “a real heartbreaker for all of us on the L.A. Honda World Racing Team. Our preparations for the race could not have been any better for both race cars. We were poised to be competitive and looking for a podium result, knowing both Honda Civic TCR’s were dialed in.”
“Having our #37 pole position car be taken out of the race by a poor starting configuration is really frustrating” Biundo added. “Pole position should never be the worst place on a grid, but it was here. For Tiago and Mat, this is a real unfair situation and I hope the series corrects it. Our #73 driven by Mike and Ryan was challenged by race incidences that compromised our strategy for them to be upfront. They both drove amazingly given the circumstances. P6 out of a field of 15 is a great accomplishment for the team. Proud of our team and drivers. Everyone did a fantastic job. Special thanks to Tiago Monteiro, who made the trip from Portugal, and to JAS and HPD who in partnership made this special entry possible.”
LA Honda World Racing has two other IMSA race starts later this year at Watkins Glen (June 23-26) and Road Atlanta (Sept. 28-Oct. 1).
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 SRO 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. https://www.lahondaworldracing.com/
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