LA Honda World Racing’s Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo fight to finish second
Back-to-back poles for Atlanta Speedwerks
VGMC shows pace, perseveres following penalties in the two-hour race
SEBRING, Fla. (March 19, 2021) – It was a welcome return to the podium for the #73 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR pair of Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo in today’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race from Sebring International Raceway.
Starting third in the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, LaMarra moved into second at the start of the two-hour contest. Pushing hard during his stint, but keeping his nose clean, LaMarra handed the #73 Honda over to co-driver Pombo under yellow, just after the halfway mark of the event.
Pombo restarted sixth and was able to make his way through to second position in the closing stages of the contest. Pombo closed the gap to within a half second of the leader, challenging for the win before GS class traffic interfered with his passing attempts in the final laps. The LA Honda World team would cross the line in just one and a half seconds behind the TCR class winner, marking the second consecutive second place finish for Honda in IMPC competition.
Starting from pole, the first third of the race was dominated by the #84 Atlanta Speedwerks car, driven by Brian Henderson. Henderson maintained control of the field from the drop of the green flag until a brake line issue ultimately ended his, and teammate Robert Noaker’s, day early.
The sister Atlanta Speedwerks car stormed to a seventh-place finish in today’s event, after starting in 14th place. Ryan Eversley and Greg Strelzoff made the most of traffic and pit strategy, as well as a fast pit crew, to catapult themselves well into the top 10.
Rounding out the quartet of Honda Civic Type R TCRs was VGMC Racing, who came home with an 11th place result. Struggling with a throttle issue in qualifying, the VGMC team of Victor Gonzalez and Ruben Iglesias overcame their issue and at one point was the fastest TCR car on track. They made their way up to the top five before a pair of penalties dropped them back in the field.
Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 Race Results
2nd TCR – #73 Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra, LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR
7th TCR – #94 Ryan Eversley and Greg Strelzoff, Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic Type R TCR
11th TCR – #88 Victor Gonzalez and Ruben Iglesias, VGMC Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR
15th TCR – #84 Robert Noaker and Brian Henderson, Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic Type R TCR – not running
Mike LaMarra (#73 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR), finished second: “It was great! We finally got the car handling better than we have before. We had a really strong engine, thanks to JAS and HPD this weekend, and it was fun out there! The team did a great job, Mat, of course, did a great job, we just needed a few more things to fall our way [to win]. Those didn’t happen, but we’re still incredibly happy to be here on the podium.”
Mat Pombo (#73 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R TCR), finished second: “To be able to race and be up front and have a competitive car feels like a long time coming. Especially at Sebring – which is probably not one of our best track. To do well here is always exciting for the future and the next few races. I have to thank LA Honda World, HPD, JAS. They sent a motor over to do some testing with and flew over from Europe to help us troubleshoot some stuff. It was really a whole Honda team effort today. Mike drove a great stint. As he said, a couple of lapped cars at the end ended up hurting me instead of the [the leader]. I don’t know if I could have passed [the winning Road Shagger entry] without the help, but they didn’t make any mistakes so congratulations to the #61 guys. But, we feel really excited going into the next few races so hopefully we can get up on the top step here soon!”