THR-W drivers Sage Marie and Lee Niffenegger kicked off their 2012 SCCA national season with a 1-2 finish in a pair of identical Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Fit machines prepared for the new B-Spec class. Additionally, THR-W drivers Calvin Liu and Derek Ferretti started the season strong with a 1-2 finish in the same cars at a regional race held the same weekend. Notably, these events coincided with the sales launch of the HPD-developed B-Spec kit, now available through the Honda Racing Line.
Heavy rain during Saturday’s qualifying sessions gave the nimble and forgiving B-Spec Honda Fits a distinct advantage, allowing all four drivers to qualify ahead of some much faster Corvettes that shared their competition groups. “I think these cars are every bit as fun in the wet as they are in the dry,” commented Liu, “Maybe more.” Ultimately, Liu would post the fastest time in regional qualifying, while Niffenegger would post the fastest time in national qualifying.
Ferretti was able to stay within several seconds of Liu through the entire regional event and eventually placed second to Liu after both drivers encountered fierce battles with other cars in their run group.
The national race was characterized by dry, clear conditions and a close nose-to-tail battle between Marie and Niffenegger. Marie was able to squeak by Niffenegger through use of the draft, but Niffenegger remained glued to his bumper. Ultimately a passing Corvette in a tight section of the track mixed things up enough to create a small gap. With such closely matched cars at a fast track like Fontana, passing becomes virtually impossible without benefit of the draft, and Marie maintained his position for the win.
“This weekend served as a great validation of the B-Spec concept,” said Niffenegger. “Now that the cars can run in SCCA, World Challenge and Grand-Am in the same configuration, we’re confident the 2012 season will see a great deal of wheel-to-wheel battles in both the club and pro racing ranks.”