Team Honda Research and Team Honda Research-West successfully concluded their pursuit of 2010 SCCA national championship titles last week with first, second and third place finishes at the SCCA Runoffs held at Road America Raceway in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Starting from outside the front row, Chad Gilsinger claimed the T3 class checkered flag and his first national championship in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda S2000, earning a race track record in the process. Pole-sitter Sage Marie secured the final step of the T3 podium finishing third in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda S2000, while Jeremy Lucas finished a solid seventh despite it being his first trip to the daunting 4.0 mile Road America circuit. In SSB the 2008 National Champion, Lee Niffenegger, piloted his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si from third on the grid to a second place finish. SSB pole-sitter Matthew Staal’s race ended after an encounter with a gravel trap, but not before he managed to set the fastest lap of the race and a new track record.
Marie set the fastest T3 lap time of the week in the first of three qualifying sessions with a 2:34.706 for a new qualifying lap record. Gilsinger suffered a flat tire in the first qualifying session, but set the fastest time in the subsequent two sessions to start the race second. Staal set the fastest SSB qualifying time with a 2:42.578 in the second qualifying session. Niffenegger set the fast time early in Q2, but the times got faster as the session went on, and he failed to return to the track in time to defend his position.
The start of the T3 race was marked by cool temperatures, high winds, a damp track and raindrops on windshields at various points on the track, making for treacherous conditions. Gilsinger got a slight jump on Marie at the start, but both Hondas were swallowed up by the higher horsepower Nissan and Chevy that started on the second row. Gilsinger slid through the wet first turn at 45 degrees forcing Marie to check up in order to avoid collecting him. Gilsinger and Marie were able to work their way back to first and second, respectively, before interference from a slow STU class car interfered with the battle for second and killed Marie’s momentum.
While enjoying better conditions, the SSB race began much the same way as T3 with the higher horsepower BMWs and Fords getting the best of the Hondas of Staal and Niffenegger at the start. Staal was involved in a heated three-way battle for first when an unsuccessful late-braking passing attempt put him in a grave trap. Niffenegger never lost sight of the leaders and made a last-second pass for third as the checkered flag fell. The second place finishing Mustang was ultimately disqualified for various rules infractions yielding the position to Niffenegger.
“It’s becoming clear that after three years in a row of either SSB or T3 championships, BFGoodrich tires deliver a distinct competitive advantage,” said Marie “The tires performed admirably, even under the most challenging conditions.” “Many thanks Honda Racing/HPD. They continue to increase Honda’s presence in the amateur motorsports arena, and I know all the Honda racers at this year’s event really appreciate it.”