Setting Track Records, Grabbing Pole, and Securing a Podium in this year's IMSA season Opener at Daytona
LOS ANGELES – With plans to run the entire 11-race IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season and challenge for the championship in 2023, LA Honda World Racing (LAHWR) on Friday got off to both a promising but also somewhat frustrating start to the season.
In the four-hour BMW M Endurance Challenge on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway infield road course, the No. 73 LAHWR Honda Civic FK7 TCR, piloted by Mike LaMarra and William Tally, finished an impressive runner-up in the TCR class.
It was a close battle right to the finish between LAHWR and the eventual winner, the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi. The two cars traded the lead a few times during the final 45 minutes of the race before the No. 61 took the point for good with 12 minutes and eight laps remaining.
“I couldn’t get rid of him (LaMarra),” No. 61 driver Jon Morley told the IMSA Newswire. “Once I got by him, I still thought I was going to drop him because the car was good early on. (But) I could not get him out of my mirrors.”
The LAHWR No. 73 ultimately finished 0.427 seconds behind the winning Audi.
“It’s a great way to start the season! We’re super excited, obviously. We had a mistake early, which cost us a drive-through penalty but luckily it was early and we were able to make it up. I can’t say enough about our crew, my gosh, these guys worked so hard over the last week to give us a great Honda Civic Type R TCR. It was really fantastic after all the work we’ve done. It was a great battle out there. I was a little disappointed to not bring home the win, but I’m happy to be here in second. It’s a great way to start the season and hopefully we’ll see a few more of these podiums.” said an elated Mike LaMarra.
After the race, new teammate Dr. Will Tally commented “Let me start by saying I’m super impressed by how Mike LaMarra raced in his first IMSA event as a closing driver. I’m proud to be part of this driver pairing and look forward to the remainder of the season with great optimism!".
When asked how does it feel to be back Daytona. “I think my biggest impression is how much I enjoyed learning the driving the Civic TCR. I’ve had success at Daytona before but to take on this event in a new chassis and find success is a testament to what a fantastic tool Honda has engineered."
As good as the No. 73 finish was for the organization, there also was frustration and disappointment in the race. The No. 37 Honda Civic FK7 TCR of Mat Pombo and Ryan Eversley came into the race sitting on the pole, having set a new track record by 1.5 seconds during Thursday’s qualifying.
It was the second straight pole and second straight track record for Pombo, who also took the top spot in the 2022 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans, driving the No. 37’s twin sister, the No. 73 Honda Civic FK7 TCR.
That was last year, but nevertheless, the No. 37 was definitely the car to beat Friday in the TCR class, but after a promising start, it was beset by power steering failure that ultimately saw its day end early, completing a disappointing 79 laps in the timed 106-lap, four-hour event.
“The power steering went out a couple times,” Eversley said after the race on his Instagram page. “The Type R Honda Civic is awesome, but if it doesn’t have power steering, you just can’t drive it for very long. I think Mat and I both did a handful of laps under yellow and both of our arms are just shot. It was undriveable so we had to retire the car. But our teammates in the 73 finished P2, led the race, it was awesome, so bad-ass. I’m excited for them and thankful that we had really fast cars all week. I can’t be happier about that because that’s all you want is to be fast. I’m thankful to my guys and HPD (Honda Performance Development) giving us such great stuff.”
Mat confirmed the feeling on the track “it was a crazy 48hrs. Daytona has been a place full of highs and lows for me. Our race started great and we were up front pacing the field and buying our time. I unfortunately lost the power steering under caution. These TCR cars are undriveable without power steering. Ryan and I did our best to collect points and finished 8th overall after having to retire. Not terrible for points and I love this LA Honda World’s grit to get us back out there.
“Our misfortune, however, allowed me to watch my close friend and Brother Mike LaMarra lead the race and have an epic battle up front in the #73 LA Honda World Civic TCR. He ultimately finished in second. Big shout out to William Tally on an amazing first stint to hand over the car to Mike in 3rd place. I may have shed a tear of joy for these guys…..”
For our Race Team Principal Mario Biundo it was a duality of emotions. “A pole position, a track record and a podium…I would say this was a great way to start the season but I am heartbroken that the #37 had a gremlin that thwarted our efforts to win and maybe even have a 1 -2 finish like we did in 2019. I am so proud to have the Tally/LaMarra pairing. It proved to be a force to reckon with. Now we need to work even harder to get Pombo/Eversley the car that gets them the success they deserve as well. Looking forward to Sebring and getting more points.”
The Michelin Pilot Challenge returns to Florida for the second race of the season, the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday, March 16.
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