TCR / 30 January 2023
Civic Type R TCR on podium as IMPC season starts at Daytona
The North American racing season began with a podium finish for the Honda Civic Type R TCR at the first round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, courtesy of LA Honda World Racing's Mike LaMarra and William Tally at Daytona.
The spectacular result seemed impossible with 60 minutes of the four-hour race gone; Tally having incurred a drive-through penalty for making contact with a tyre during his first pitstop.
Resuming 13th in class, he battled back to sixth aboard his JAS Motorsport-built car and handed driving duties over to LaMarra with 90 minutes remaining; his co-driver beginning a charge that would prove the highlight of the race.
LaMarra stormed through the field to lead with just 10 minutes remaining, but was re-passed a lap later by an equally-determined rival; the pair remaining nose-to-tail for the remainder and eventually finishing just 0.4 seconds apart.
The sister car was taken to pole position by Mat Pombo in a new TCR qualifying lap record and spent most of the first hour in the lead, but a persistent power-steering issue sent the car behind the wall at half-distance and later put co-driver Ryan Eversley out.
Just as unlucky were VGRT, who set the pace at the 'Roar before the 24' test a week earlier, and who led at the midway point following a mammoth opening stint by Victor Gonzalez Jr.
Sadly, a drivetrain issue forced co-driver Karl Wittmer to pit for repairs just a lap into his stint and although the car resumed the race, it was not running at the finish.
Chad Gilsinger qualified fourth for HART and ran second, but co-driver Steve Eich was eliminated in the second hour in a multi-car incident that originated from a spinning GT4 machine. Mario Farnbacher did not, therefore, make his TCR race debut.