Mat Pombo track-record lap at Road Atlanta in the No. 73 LA Honda World Racing Honda
It was a great start but unfortunately not the kind of finish the LA Honda World Racing Team wanted in Friday’s final IMSA race of the season for the TCR class, The FOX Factory 120 Michelin Pilot Challenge event, part of this weekend’s IMSA season-ending MOTUL Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.
Mat Pombo took the No. 73 Honda Civic FK7 TCR – making its final appearance on a race track (it will be replaced by the all-new FL5 TCR next season ) – to the pole during qualifying on Thursday, setting a track record for TCR in the process (1:27.803).
After Pombo led the field to the green flag to start Friday’s race and led the first two laps, including a top speed of the day for the squad of 1:28.732, the team received an unfortunate 35-second penalty – Pombo switched lanes before the start-finish line, which contravenes the rules. 44.3.5. (SSR) At the time that the Cars are directed to pair up for the start, the pole sitter must take their position on the correct side of the racetrack.
Still, showing the kind of grit and determination it has all season long in both IMSA and SRO / TC America racing, the LA Honda World Racing team miraculously managed to rebound from the penalty, and with Ryan Eversley behind the wheel for the second half of the race, regained the lead for laps 41-55 of the 76-lap, timed two-hour event.
However, the car trailed off in the final 21 laps around the 2.540-mile (4.088 km) road course and ultimately finished fourth.
“Everybody knew we were there today, not a bad result for a team that only did 4 races this year,” Eversley said. “The fastest car doesn’t always win. We finished P4 after a series of unfortunate events. Thank you to Honda, LA Honda World and Honda Racing HPD for the amazing effort.”
The race had special meaning to both drivers as they are each Atlanta-area natives, still live in the area and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is their home racetrack.
“The team got the car faster every session for me and gave me a car to get our Honda a TCR pole at my home track for the last race on American soil for this current Honda FK7 TCR car,” Pombo said. “We’re stoked to get this last race started and hand this beast off to my co-driver, fellow ATLien, and good friend Ryan Eversley.”
There was past precedent of success at Road Atlanta for the LA Honda World Racing team. In 2020, Pombo and Mike LaMarra teamed together to finish third in the four-hour TCR endurance race there.
This was the fourth and final IMSA race for the LA Honda World Racing squad in 2022. In addition to Pombo’s pole on Thursday, the other highpoint came earlier this year when Pombo and noted Portuguese World Touring Car driver Tiago Monteiro, teamed up to win the pole at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in mid-May.
From an individual race finish, even though they were disappointed they didn’t get the win at Road Atlanta, Pombo and Eversley can take pride in the fact they recorded LA Honda World Racing’s top finish in the four IMSA races it took part in this year, with the second-best finish being a sixth-place showing at Mid-Ohio with Eversley and LaMarra behind the wheel.
LA Honda World Racing is hoping for even greater things to come in the IMSA portion of its overall 2023 season. The team is exploring the possibility of potentially adding more IMSA races to 2023, in addition to running the full SRO/TC America Series again.
Speaking of SRO/TC America, we are looking forward to growing the team in both IMSA and SRO for 2023….stay tuned.
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