HPD Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Road America Cat National: Honda Racing/HPD Launch



The weekend of July 24-26, 2009 marked the official launch of Honda Racing/HPD, Honda’s new initiative aimed at expanding its presence in grassroots racing, which took place in conjunction with the Milwaukee Region SCCA Formula Ford 40th Anniversary event. Between talking with fellow Honda drivers about HPD’s new Honda Racing Line parts- and technical-support portal, Honda Racing/HPD drivers celebrated the occasion with a first-place finish in Showroom Stock B for Gilsinger, and second- and third-place finishes in Touring 3 for Marie and Eisele, respectively. This was Marie’s first trip to the daunting four-mile Road America circuit, and it was the first return in many years for Eisele and Gilsinger, so the occasion served as a valuable opportunity to prepare for September’s SCCA National Championship Runoffs, which will take place at the same venue.

Despite being in the process of learning the track, Marie managed to qualify his Honda S2000 CR at the front of the T3 grid, posting a lap time below the previous race-lap record, thanks in large part to the grip of his BF Goodrich tires. With stiff competition from a Pontiac Solstice that was recently granted a reduction in its minimum weight, Gilsinger qualified his Honda Civic Si second on the SSB grid, while Eisele fought setup issues to qualify his S2000 fifth in T3.
Multi-class fields usually lead to unpredictable starts, and this race was no exception, with heavy but powerful American sedans intermingled with the T3 cars on the grid. The bigger cars’ slower cornering speeds held Marie up after the start, while the Chevy Cobalt SS of Kevin Fandozzi was able to move from fourth place to first by the end of the first lap. After some close but clean side-by-side racing between Marie and Fandozzi, Marie would ultimately finish second. Meanwhile, Eisele was able to get past the VW GTi of Aaron Stehly and the Cobalt SS of John Heinricy to finish third.

A slow start meant Gilsinger’s Civic Si was in the heart of its power band, and he was able to motor ahead to the first turn. As the second- and third-place cars engaged in a heated battle, Gilsinger was able to focus on hitting his marks, settle into a pace, and ultimately win SSB by a comfortable margin.
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Event: Road America "Cat" National, July 24-26
Vehicles: Honda Civic Si (Showroom Stock B) / Honda S2000 CR (Touring 3)
Driver/Result: Chad Gilsinger (1st SSB) / Sage Marie (2nd T3) / Inness Eisele (3rd T3)

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