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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Honda, Acura Racers Claim Titles at 2012 SCCA Runoffs

Honda and Acura racers won four Sports Car Club of America national titles and claimed a 1-2 finish in the inaugural B-Spec category, run as a exhibition class, in last weekend’s SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.

More than three dozen Honda and Acura racers traveled to the classic Road America road course in Wisconsin for this year’s 49th annual Runoffs, September 17-23, taking part in 13 of the 30 competition classes.

Tim Kautz
Five drivers used the Honda L15A7 engine in Formula F at this year’s Runoffs, a record for the manufacturer in this open-wheel, training-ground category. Tim Kautz made history on Friday as the first Honda-powered Formula F National Champion, after a race-long battle with defending class champion Lewis Cooper.

“I was hoping the two of us could [break away from the pack] and make it a two-car fight, and that’s what happened,” Kautz said. “On the last lap, it came down to whoever got the better run out of the last corner and, fortunately, we were able to pull it off. It was a great race. Thanks to Honda. They gave us a great engine. You just put it in and go. That reliability allowed me to focus my efforts on improving the chassis and my racecraft.”

Luke Wilwert
Thursday’s opening event,resulted in a clean sweep for Honda and Acura drivers in the combined race for Showroom Stock B, Showroom Stock C and the new B-Spec class. Luke Wilwert started from the pole and went on to win SSB in his Honda Civic Si, while Michael Crawford piloted his Acura Integra from third on the starting grid to the SSC national title.

“I think I was able to get through traffic a little bit better than [the competition]. Dealing with traffic is part of the art, and I think I just got lucky,” Wilwert said. “This win means a lot. I feel truly blessed, in my second try, to win a National Championship. I didn’t expect it.”

Michael Crawford
Crawford also won an exciting event, avoiding last-lap contact taking place just in front of him to claim his SSC victory. “I saw [Charlie James and Brian Husting] get a little aggressive,” Crawford recounted. “I’m thinking ‘let’s just see what happens’ and they both went wide at the ‘kink.’ I was able to get by at that point, and just kept going!”

In the new, non-championship B-Spec category, Sage Marie came out of top of a wild three-car fight in his Honda Fit, which also earned him the Sunoco “Hard Charger” award for his efforts. Marie, fellow Honda driver Joel Lipperini, and Shawn Young in a Mazda2 ran within tenths of a second of one another throughout the 13-lap contest, frequently running three abreast on the long Road America straightaways, before Marie eked out a narrow victory over Lipperini.

Moser & Gauper on the podium
The fourth Honda championship of the weekend came in H Production, where Michael Moser won his first Runoffs title, with defending class champion Greg Gauper making it a 1-3 finish for Honda. Moser and Gauper were part of a four-car train that broke away from the field in the early laps, before Moser edged away to his first national championship.

“Mike Origer passed me, and I figured I’d let him lead for a bit, but then I got a really good run out of Turn Three and into Five,” Moser said. “I out-braked him, went to the inside, and was able to get ahead. He was still in my mirror for a couple of laps, but once I got a little distance, I settled down a bit and ran my race. It all turned out good.”

Honda Performance Development [HPD], through the Honda Racing Line, offered contingency awards of up to $2,500, along with additional support to help offset travel costs for the racers. HPD also hosted catered, trackside hospitality exclusively for Honda/Acura competitors and their team members, providing a buffet lunches September 18-22 and a television monitor showing a live feed of on-track activities.
2012 Honda/Acura SCCA National Championship Runoffs Highlights:

Showroom Stock B: 1st Place Luke Wilwert Honda Civic Si
Showroom Stock C: 1st Place Michael Crawford Acura Integra
B-Spec:* 1st Place Sage Marie Honda Fit
2nd Place Joel Lipperini Honda Fit
Formula F: 1st Place Tim Kautz Piper DF3D Honda
GT-Lite: 3rd Place Jim Hargrove Honda Civic
Touring 3: 3rd Place Chad Gilsinger Honda S2000
H Production: 1st Place Michael Moser Honda CRX
3rd Place Greg Gauper Honda Civic Si

* Exhibition class classified as a Runoffs event but not a National Championship class

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