Wednesday, March 31, 2010
March 20-21, 2010
Team Honda Research and Team Honda Research-West continued their pursuit of 2010 SCCA national championship and SoPac divisional titles last weekend with four more victories at the Gathering of Champions Double National event held at Thunderhill Park in Willows, California.
Sage Marie claimed the T3 class checkered flag in each of the two races in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda S2000, earning qualifying and race track records in the process. Lee Niffenegger finished the weekend with two SSB class wins in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si and also set a new qualifying lap record. Matthew Staal piloted his SSB class Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si to a third place finish on the Saturday race and a second place finish on Sunday in heated battles with Oregon-based Civic Si driver, Eddie Nakato. Nakato finished second and then third in each of the races, respectively, and posted SSB track record on Sunday.
Although fast all weekend, an exhaust sound issue threatened to disqualify Marie every session. With a great deal of help from Civic Si driver Eddie Nakato, he was able to fashion a make-shift exhaust silencer from scrap sheet metal. Although it had to be rebuilt for each time on track, it was enough to reduce the S2000’s sound output below the 103db sound limit, allowing Marie to qualify and pole and take victory both days.
Staal was the fast man in SSB qualifying on Saturday, setting an SSB qualifying record, but a setup issue pushed him to third in the race behind Niffenegger and Nakato as his Civic’s balance went away. Niffenegger was able to overcome traffic congestion after the start to work his way past his teammate for the win.
Not to be outdone, Niffenegger reclaimed the SSB qualifying record on Sunday, putting his Civic Si on pole. Nakato qualified second and Staal started third. With his setup issue resolved, Staal was able pass and hold off constant challenges from Nakato and take home second, while Niffenegger lead from flag to flag.
“A lot of credit for another great result once again has to go to the BFGoodrich tires,” said Marie. “I drove on the same set all weekend, and they just seemed to get faster every time on track.” “Many thanks to the guys at Team Honda Research-West who helped us change a clutch and a differential after the last race.”
The trio of Marie, Staal and Niffenegger head to their next race, a double national, at Buttonwillow Raceway on April 24 & 25.