Rolex 24 at Daytona Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR Highlights
Honda cars make 1-2 in IMSA Challenge opener at Daytona
The second season of the TCR class in the IMSA Challenge began with an exciting four-hour race at Daytona that provided eight different leaders and plenty of overtaking and clashing. Eventually the Honda Civic cars of LA Honda World Racing finished 1-2 with Tom O’Gorman-Shelby Blackstock the winners from Matt Pombo-Mike La Marra. The podium was completed by the Fast MD Racing Audi RS 3 LMS of Nick Galante-James Vance-Jared Salinsky.
Alex Popow was impressive at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo Giulietta as he led for the first 30 minutes of the race. After the first pit stop, Lee Carpentier and Michael Johnson moved up to first and second in their Audi cars, but soon after the end of the first hour they came together and crashed. During the second hour there was a close fight between Blackstock and Galante who swapped the lead a few times.
After the third pit stop they both dropped down the order and the lead was taken by Todd Lamb’s Honda that was closely chased by Michael Lewis’ Hyundai, Pombo and Popow. On lap 55, Lewis was hit by Chad Gilsinger’s Honda as they were fighting for fourth place. Again there was a close fight for the lead between Pombo, Lamb and Popow.
The last hour began with the top-four drivers covered by the same second: Lamb, Pombo, Vance and Popow. At the restart after another full-course-yellow, Lamb pitted for fuel, Pombo took the lead and Popow overtook Vance for second. The fight for the win was now between the LA Honda World cars of Lamb and O’Gorman and Popow’s Alfa. With 35 minutes left the Alfa went back into the first place, but then retired in a cloud of smoke.
Back into the lead with 25 minutes to go, Lamb pitted with a flat front tyre and handed the first place to Vance, but O’Gorman was closing the gap by one second per lap. After a final full-course-yellow, with ten minutes on the clock, the Honda cars of O’Gorman and Pombo overtook Vance’s Audi to score a 1-2 finish.
“The hardest part was to stay out of trouble, because these guys were racing so hard,” said O’Gorman. “If you’d have told me this yesterday that we would be standing here, I wouldn’t have believed you. We worked really hard overnight, the L.A. Honda World guys did an amazing job. The race was really challenging and we just kind of checked ourselves until the end and we found ourselves in the lead and it came to us.”
The second round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge will take place at Sebring on 15 March.
1. LA Honda World Racing, Honda Civic Type R (O’ Gorman / Blackstock), 100 laps
2. LA Honda World Racing, Honda Civic Type R (Pombo / La Marra), 1.605
3. Fast MD Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS (Galante / Vance / Salinsky), 5.870
4. Atlanta Speedwerks, Honda Civic Type R (Lamb / Henderson), 2 laps
5. Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Veloster N (Filippi / Gottsacker), 4 laps
6. eEuroparts with Rowe Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS (Nash / McDonough), 9 laps
1. O’Gorman-Blackstock 35 pts; 2. Pombo-La Marra 32; 3. Galante-Vance-Salinsky 30