TCR / 29 January 2024
JAS-built racers show podium pace at Daytona
The Civic Type R TCR scored a front-row start and a top-five finish as the 2024 international touring car season began with the opening round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.
With the similarly JAS Motorsport-built NSX GT3 Evo 22 also in action at the Daytona 24 Hours, it was a busy weekend for the Italian-constructed racing cars.
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
Racers Edge Motorsports only announced their entry into a five-round TCR programme in the series 24 hours before the start of official practice; and drivers Daniel Wu and Tazio Ottis qualified 15th.
But in a race of ever-changing storylines, the duo stayed out of trouble and benefitted from a number of excellent strategic calls to finish fifth on the NSX GT3 multiple title-winning team's TCR debut.
Montreal Motorsport Group - having their first race of any kind - qualified a magnificent second thanks to Karl Wittmer. He briefly led in the first hour; co-driver Dai Yoshihara also cycling to the front at times through clever strategy.
However, a faulty radio meant Yoshihara never received wave-by instructions from pitlane during a mid-race Full-Course Caution period and ended up with a one-lap lead. This error incurred a four-minute stop-go penalty that dropped the car to seventh at the flag.
Just before this, a technical issue put the sister car of Louis Montour and Bryan Ortiz; top-six runners until that point, out.
Chad Gilsinger qualified an excellent fifth for HART, but electrical issues meant many laps behind the wall. He, Tyler Chambers and Steven Eich were running at the finish in 14th, but Clayton Williams and Colin Reynolds, of VGRT, were not after issues of their own.
IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship
Gradient Racing were the stars of the GTD class at the previous weekend's 'Roar before the 24' test as Katherine Legge set the pace in the opening test session and qualified third to give the team their best-ever IMSA starting position.
The Briton ran easily inside the top three during her opening stint of the race and set a fastest lap that was not beaten until well into the night.
But things went wrong in the 10th hour as the #66 Acura NSX GT3 Evo 22 was struck by another car's debris while Stevan McAleer was at the wheel, necessitating 10 laps ‘behind the wall’ for repairs.
An electrical issue then sidelined the car, which was also driven by Sheena Monk and Tatiana Calderon, for good in the 14th hour.
The NSX was competing as part of the NSX GT3 Customer Racing Programme; a global collaborative project with JAS Motorsport responsible for assembly of all cars.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) and M-TEC handle sales and technical support in North America and Japan respectively, with JAS responsible for these areas across the rest of the world.