Track Record & Pole for Pombo at Watkins Glen International
This past weekend’s Sahlens 120 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York was a mixed bag of results for the LA Honda World Racing (LAHWR) team.
Let’s break things down by the two LAHWR entries:
The No. 37 Honda Civic FL5 TCR of Mat Pombo and Ryan Eversley:
In Friday’s first of two practices, Pombo and Eversley were the third-quickest of 13 entries with a time of 1:56.720. In the second practice later that day, the No. 37 was again the third-quickest ride on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile twisting permanent road course with a time of 1:56.248.
Then came the highlight of the weekend, also on Friday, when Pombo roared to his second straight IMSA pole in the new, state-of-the-art FL5 – and his fifth consecutive pole overall to date – with an outstanding effort of 1:55.096.
Here’s what Pombo had to say with a huge smile on his face:
“I’ve got to credit the crew, they worked tirelessly on this new car that we’ve gotten to dial it in. These are the first two (FL5) cars in North America, to give it two poles in a row, and this is five in a row for me.
“I kind of put pressure on myself to do this and I’ve come to expect it. … (Starting from the pole means) clear tracks are the key to this thing. You can never win a race on a start, but you can always lose it, so having a clear track is where you want to be.”
Pombo and Eversley co-piloted the car to beat in Saturday’s two-hour timed race event. With Pombo starting on the pole, he had nothing but a clean racetrack ahead of him when the green flag dropped.
Pombo kept things rolling in the right direction when the race began, clocking an awesome time – and a field-best – of 1:56.114 in the first half of the race.
Things were definitely looking very promising in the 46-lap race, indeed. Pombo yielded to Eversley about halfway through the two-hour event until a Hyundai made contact with Eversley and sent him crashing into a retaining wall, ending his and the team’s day 10 laps shy of the finish.
As it turned out, the Pombo/Eversley combination finished a disappointing 11th of 12 cars in TCR, with each of the bottom three cars failing to finish due to wrecks or mechanical issues.
Ironically enough, Pombo, who has two previous wins at WGI in his racing career, practically predicted what could potentially happen:
“I’m either podium or bust here, we either don’t finish or we’re going to be in contention to win,” Pombo said. “I love this place in the wet or dry, so we’re ready for whatever comes our way.”
Unfortunately, it was an opposing driver who had the final say in how Pombo and Eversley ultimately wound up. Had the wreck not occurred, it’s very likely the No. 37 may very well have left WGI as winners or with a podium finish at the very least.
The No. 73 Honda Civic FL5 TCR of Will Tally and Mike LaMarra:
In Friday’s first of two practices, Tally and LaMarra struggled, recording the 11th-quickest time of the 13 cars entered at 1:57.927, only to bounce back respectably in the second practice session with a time of 1:56.620, good for sixth-quickest in the TCR field.
Unfortunately, Friday wrapped up with a difficult qualifying effort for Tally and LaMarra, as they finished last of the 13 TCR cars on-track with a time of 1:58.835.
That’s when the LA Honda World Racing team crew got to work, toiling late into the evening Friday night to improve the performance of the No. 73 and to make it quicker and faster for Saturday’s main event race.
The crew’s work paid off, as Tally and LaMarra bounced back from starting at the back of the field Saturday afternoon to finish a respectable sixth-place in the race, completing all 46 laps.
“The (Honda) FK7 was a fantastic car but Honda found a way to improve it!” Tally said. “The FL5 is simply more reined in nearly every way. What a pleasure to drive it with my good friend Mike LaMarra and my race family at LA Honda World.
“I put us on the back foot during qualifying but the entire team pulled through and gave us a perfect car. With that and Mike’s fantastic closing drive we were able to move up seven positions and gain valuable points.
“Sorry for our sister car (the No. 37) catching more bad luck. They are clearly the class of the field but just can’t catch any positive luck.”
LA Honda World Racing’s next IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event is July 7 and 8, north of the border at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
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