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Honda, Acura Racers Claim Titles at SCCA Runoffs
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2012) – 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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, and 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.
Launched in July 2009, the Honda Racing Line is a program targeted at licensed participants in sanctioned amateur and entry-level professional racing. The Honda Racing Line was formed to provide its members with a direct connection to Honda Performance Development and its unparalleled record of success at the highest levels of motorsport. Competitors may register for the Honda Racing Line through HondaRacingLine.com.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines.
As one of three engine suppliers to the IZOD IndyCar Series, Honda won this year’s Indianapolis 500 with driver Dario Franchitti; and competes in prototype sports-car racing under the HPD banner in the American Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship, where it again took a P2 class win at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. HPD offers a variety of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; and showcases “fun-to-drive” products for professional, amateur and entry-level racers.
2012 Honda/Acura SCCA National Championship Runoffs Highlights:
Showroom Stock B: 1. Luke Wilwert, Honda Civic Si
Showroom Stock C: 1. Michael Crawford, Acura Integra
B-Spec:* 1. Sage Marie, Honda Fit
2. Joel Lipperini, Honda Fit
Formula F: 1. Tim Kautz Piper DF3D Honda
GT-Lite: 3. Jim Hargrove, Honda Civic
Touring 3: 3. Chad Gilsinger, Honda S2000
H Production: 1. Michael Moser, Honda CRX
3. Greg Gauper, Honda Civic Si
* Exhibition class classified as a Runoffs event but not a National Championship class