Honda, Acura Racers Claim Six SCCA National Championships
• Runoffs results reflect impact of Honda Racing Line Program
• Podium sweep in Super Touring Light, Formula F
• Honda drivers also win P1, B-Spec, STU and GTL
LEXINGTON, Ohio. (Sept. 26, 2016) – Honda and Acura racers won six Sports Car Club of America national championship titles, including podium sweeps in both the competitive Super Touring Light category and Formula F, at the 2016 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, contested this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
A total of 70 Honda and Acura racers, the largest Runoffs field for the manufacturer since the start of the Honda Racing Line grassroots motorsports program in 2009, traveled to the centrally-located Mid-Ohio circuit for this year’s 53rd annual national championships. Honda and Acura racers took part in 14 of the weekend’s 28 classes of racing.
In addition to the record turnout, it was also a weekend of excellent results for Honda and Acura drivers, as the six national championships were backed by another nine podium finishes in nine of the 14 races contested at this year’s Runoffs.
“This has been just a fantastic Runoffs for our Honda Racing Line members,” said Jeff Barrow, HPD manager, commercial motorsports. “Our drivers and teams contended for victory in more than a dozen races, and the results speak volumes for both our grassroots motorsports efforts in recent years and the skills of our racers.”
In winning Formula F with his Honda-engined Mygale, Neil Verhagen became the youngest National Champion in SCCA history on Sunday. At 15 years, 242 days, Verhagen is more than a full year younger than current Honda IndyCar star Graham Rahal was when he won Formula Atlantic at the same track in 2005. Hans Saurino and David Livingston, Jr., made it a 1-2-3 result for Honda in Formula F.
Verhagen set sail from the green flag, building a lead of more than 15 seconds before a full-course caution wiped it all away. He pulled away again at the restart for the three-lap dash to the checkers and a 5.451-second victory.
“I’m ecstatic right now,” Verhagen said. “It’s quite an accomplishment to be the youngest driver to ever win the Runoffs and set pole. I’m head over heels. I did not want to see the [late-race] restart come out at all. It was hard. I got a great start again, and by the time I looked out at Turn Three, I had enough of a gap and we kept building from there.”
Behind Verhagen, however, there was an eight-car battle for the final two podium positions. Saurino’s Van Diemen Honda was the first to make a big move, running from fourth to second under braking on Lap Five. That didn’t last long, however, as he fell back to third on the next lap, and ultimately made the pass into second on four different occasions throughout the race. In the closing laps, Saurino had a lapped car between him and Verhagen, but had Livingston’s No. 85 ThermaMasters Spectrum Honda in his mirrors to the checkers.
“I was very fortunate to get out ahead early on,” Saurino said. “Every lap was a battle. I went from fifth to second more times than I could tell. On the restart, it was a scary circumstance where I thought I’d have to battle again. Another lap or two and it would have been a fight, for sure.”
Livingston had to recover from a spin, aided by a bump, on the turn-in to the Mid-Ohio Esses during the 12th circuit. It seemingly put Livingston out of contention at the time, but the full-course caution aided his march to his first podium finish and a Honda podium sweep.
Super Tourlng Light
Kevin Boehm led the first Honda 1-2-3 result of the Runoffs, taking his Honda Civic Si to his second consecutive Super Touring Light championship on Saturday, with Eric Kutil second in a similar Civic Si and Cliff Ira rounding out the podium finishers driving an Acura Integra GS-R.
That second championship didn’t come easy, though, as Boehm edged Kutil by only 0.719-second at the checkers. Boehm used his racing experience to deal with fading brakes late in the race, slowing into the Keyhole turn to get a good run out and down the back straight, then going just as fast as necessary to cool the brakes in the back part of the track.
Kutil tried several times to get by on the inside of the carousel, with the pair running side by side on three different occasions, including coming to the white flag, but Boehm made sure to hold the inside line coming onto the short front straight, across the stripe, and remained in the lead.
“It’s really great to be up here on the top step again,” Boehm said. “It’s so rewarding to be able to pull it off. It’s such a long week; there’s so much that can go wrong. Even just putting it all together over the whole season to qualify just to be here is awesome. Congratulations to Eric and Cliff, they pushed me and the car to the limit. Being forced to really look at every detail of the car and hit every mark, it’s really rewarding.”
Just a year ago, Kutil attended his first track day. Having enjoyed that, he decided to get a racing license. With just a single year’s worth of experience in track activities, Kutil now has a silver medal.
“My brakes started getting pretty soft because I had some tiny rotors on there,” Kutil said. “I couldn’t brake where I wanted to, and the only corner where I could maybe stick my nose in was the Carousel. I may have given Kevin a couple of love bumps there, trying to get him out of the way. But it was a fun race. I didn’t want to dive bomb him and try to lock up or ruin both of our days, so I tried to play it safe and pass where it’s most possible.”
With a third-place finish on Saturday, Ira now has a complete set of podium finishes, following a win and a second in the last two years. Pushing hard, he had nothing for the top two places but was locked securely in third.
After finishing second in 2015, David Daughtery jumped to the lead at the green flag in his Honda Fit, with a second Fit piloted by Chi Ho tucked right behind. The two put some space immediately on the rest of the field, as a few other competitors tangled at the second turn from the start.
Before the halfway point in the race, Daughtery had pulled away to what would become a 10-second lead and never gave up the top spot, claiming his ninth Runoffs win and first in B-Spec.
“The car was awesome today,” Daughtery said. “Our goal was to go out like gangbusters right off the bat. With Mid-Ohio being Honda’s track, I wanted to come here to get my first win in a Honda. And I’m looking forward to next year, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to doing the same thing.”
After Daughtery pulled away, Ho found himself falling back into the clutches of the chase pack consisting of John Phillips in another Honda Fit; the Chevrolet of John Heinricy and Ryan Hall’s Mini Cooper. For several laps, those four had an exciting battle for the second podium position. Heinricy crossed the finish line in second place, but was relegated to third by the stewards for avoidable contact during the race. Ho crossed the line in third place, but was moved to second when Heinricy was demoted. It is his first podium finish in only a second appearance at the national championships.
“It’s an honor to run against these multiple Runoffs champions,” Ho said. “I just tried to be as consistent as possible, hit my marks every time, and hopefully give them a good fight at the end. Third place is good. It’s not the top of the podium, but I’m happy with it.”
In addition to the races highlighted above, Honda Racing/HPD drivers also emerged victorious in the races for Prototype 1, GTL and STU. A full list of Honda Racing/HPD champions and podium results appears below.
Video News Releases from this weekend’s SCCA National Championship Runoffs can be found on the “Honda Racing/HPD Trackside” YouTube channel produced by the Carolinas Production Group. CPG provided video highlights packages following Honda Racing/HPD events throughout the 2016 season, and the video packages can be found in the 2016 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
Honda Performance Development [HPD], through the Honda Racing Line, offered contingency awards totaling $35,000 at the 2016 Runoffs, plus trackside support throughout the week. HPD also hosted trackside hospitality exclusively for Honda/Acura competitors and their team members, providing an infield paddock tent where competitors could prepare and maintain their cars, and lunches for drivers and crew members.
Founded in 1993, Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines, and operates at race circuits around the world from its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California. HPD offers a line of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; and showcases “fun” products for professional, amateur and entry-level efforts.
2016 Honda/Acura SCCA National Championship Runoffs Victories and Podiums:
Formula F: 1. Neil Verhagen, Mygale SJ11 Honda
2. Hans Saurino, Van Diemen RF98 Honda
3. David Livingston, Spectrum 14H Honda
Super Touring Lite: 1. Kevin Boehm, Honda Civic Si
2. Eric Kutil, Honda Civic Si
3. Cliff Ira, Acura Integra GS-R
B-Spec: 1. David Daugherty, Honda Fit
2. Chi Ho, Honda Fit
GT Lite: 1. Peter Shadowen, Honda CRX
3. Chris Bovis, Honda CRX
Prototype 1: 1. Jim Devenport, Norma M20FC Honda
Super Touring Under: 1. Joe Moser, Honda Prelude
E Production: 2. Joe Moser, Honda Prelude
Touring 3: 2. Chad Gilsinger, Acura TLX
GT 3: 3. Joe Kristensen. Acura RSX