It was a successful debut for the all-new FL5 model Honda Civic Type R TCR machine as LA Honda World's Ryan Eversley and Mat Pombo started from pole and scored a podium finish in the weekend's IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Pombo kicked off the weekend well for the team, setting a blistering pace to claim pole position in the FL5's first qualifying session. He and co-driver Ryan Eversley would stay out of trouble to cross the line third in their brand new #37 Honda at the Laguna Seca 120, third round in the 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series.
Still running the previous-generation Civic Type R – and championship leaders entering the Laguna Seca round – William Tally and Mike LaMarra in their #73 LA Honda World Civic Type R TCR unfortunately suffered from a connection issue with the fuel cell in the latter half of the race. The team worked hard to repair it, and Mike LaMarra and co-driver William Tally would move up a few spots as other teams found their own struggles—ultimately coming home 10th.
Victor Gonzalez and Karl Wittmer scored a seventh-place finish aboard their #99 Honda Civic Type R TCR machinery. Gonzalez struggled with a vibration in the early stages of the race which the team believed to be caused by a tire issue, forcing them to pit earlier than anticipated. The team would recover from the unscheduled pit stop to notch their seventh-place finish.
Laguna Seca 120 Honda Race Results
- 3rd TCR - #37 Ryan Eversley and Mat Pombo, LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR
- 7th TCR - #99 Victor Gonzalez and Karl Wittmer, VGRT Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR
- 10th TCR - #73 William Tally and Mike LaMarra, LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR
Mat Pombo (#37 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR) finished third: "It was a great weekend! We've had fast cars all year, but just haven't had a weekend go our way. Thankfully it happened here! We did our jobs, controlled what we could, we just couldn't pass the cars ahead. It's good to be in Laguna and have a podium and get some points and try to crawl our way back into this thing. The new Honda Civic FL5 is fantastic. JAS did a great job building this car, LA Honda World with the testing, and HPD has been a great partner with this project. We're just pumped to get a podium in the first race on American soil with it."
Ryan Eversley (#37 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR) finished 3rd: "This new car is awesome! Thanks to [team owner] Mario [Biundo] and everyone at LA Honda World, I now own the street version in addition to being on the podium in the race version! These guys did such a great job these last few months getting this team even better than it was last year. We showed really strong pace at every race we've run this year, but now we're finally on the podium. Now, we're going to try and make a championship run and make everyone at HPD and LA Honda World and JAS and all the Honda owners out there as proud as possible."
Lee Niffenegger (principle engineer, Honda Performance Development) on today's race and debut of the FL5 Honda Civic Type R in North American competition: "It was a great debut for the FL5 Honda Civic Type R TCR here at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It was quick, reliable and ran trouble-free throughout the race. Huge congrats to HPD, JAS and LA Honda World for this podium. Getting a new race car to track is hard enough, but getting it to be fast and reliable is even harder. This is hopefully only the first step to even more success with the FL5 to come.
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series next heads cross country, to upstate New York, for the Watkins Glen International 120, on Saturday, June 24 at Watkins Glen International Raceway in Watkins Glen, NY.
HPD has three ready-to-race Civic models for touring car competition. The line starts with the affordable and reliable Civic Si TCA race car, then leads to the Civic Type R TC racer that puts legendary Type R performance on track, and culminates with the no-compromise, championship-winning Civic Type R TCR race car. Our unparalleled trackside support at every level from HPD engineers is a unique benefit that no other manufacturer can offer. Find out more about these cars and our touring programs at: https://hpd.honda.com/Motorsports/Touring
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