Honda Racing Report

Sunday, July 3, 2016


WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Circuit:       Watkins Glen International Raceway (3.4-mile road course) Watkins Glen, NY

Weather:     Partly sunny, mild, 78 degrees F


Honda, Michael Shank Racing Produce Podium at Watkins Glen

·       Honda-powered Tequila Patron ESM leads at half-distance in six-hour contest

·       Michael Shank Racing finishes third despite late-race cautions

·       Combined results keep Honda in endurance championship lead


The combined efforts of Tequila Patron ESM and Michael Shank Racing kept Honda in the lead of the North American Endurance Championship manufacturers’ contest Sunday at Watkins Glen International Raceway, as MSR finished third in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, while the ESM team led at half-distance to earn additional championship points. 


The third round in the four-race endurance series within the season-long WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Sunday’s six-hour race started with the ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda on pole, with the MSR Ligier Honda starting third.  ESM, with drivers Johannes von Overbeek, Scott Sharp and Luis “Pipo” Derani stayed in the thick of the lead group until just before mid-race, when Derani moved into the lead to score five championship points.  Despite a long pit stop to repair a power steering issue, the trio continued to contend for the victory until mechanical failure ended the run with just over an hour remaining.


Meanwhile, the MSR driving trio of Oswaldo “Ozz” Negri, Olivier Pla and John Pew executed a strategy that found the team running third – and closing on the leaders – in the final hour.  Unfortunately, two late-race caution flags in the final 35 minutes of the event prevented closing driver Pla from making a successful pass for the lead, and MSR took the checkers third, following its victory earlier this year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.


Following today’s six-hour race at Watkins Glen, the third of four rounds in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship, Honda continues to lead the Manufacturers’ Championship in this series-within-a-series, after opening the season with a pair of wins – both recorded by ESM –  in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil One 12 Hours of Sebring.


Honda is currently second in the full-season WeatherTech SportsCar Manufacturers’ Championship, just four points out of the lead, with three victories in six races this year. 


Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda activities at Watkins Glen are being posted on the "Honda Racing/HPD" YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2015 HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: 


Next weekend, the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads north of the border to Bowmanville, Ontario, for the July 10 Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.


Pipo Derani (#2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Honda): “What a great team effort. We were back in the fight [for the lead], and unfortunately, something happened with our engine. We don’t know exactly what yet. It’s just a shame. The car was really good and we had a real shot at victory in this one. But we’ll bounce back. It felt good to lead at the halfway point. When I was in the car, I thought the three-hour mark had already passed when I was behind the No. 5 Action Express car. Then they said I could try and overtake. I did, then got out of the car to see we got it at the halfway mark. It was very satisfying. We’ll take that good point from the weekend and bounce back at Petit Le Mans [the final round of the championship].”


John Pew (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier Honda):  “It [finishing third] feels great. The guys worked really hard. The car was good, it was just traffic management and a little bit of luck there at the end. A little bit of more luck, and we might have had the top spot. Olivier [Pla] did an fantastic job and so did Ozz [Negri]. Great guys, great drivers and I’m really happy to be partnered with them.”


Steve Eriksen (Vice President and COO, Honda Performance Development):  "Both Tequila Patron ESM and Michael Shank Racing did fantastic jobs this weekend, with excellent race plans that were extremely well executed.  A brilliant strategy from ESM saw them leading at mid-race to earn Honda valuable endurance championship points, and we’re gutted for the team that a mechanical failure ended its day early.  We’ll investigate the cause of the problem and take the steps needed to prevent similar issues in the future.  Congratulations to everyone at Michael Shank Racing for another podium finish, and a strategy that might well have netted us another victory, but for the two late-race caution flags.”


IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Manufacturers’ Championship (unofficial, after 6 of 10 races):

1. Chevrolet                  201 points (3 wins)

2. Honda              197 (3 wins)

3. Mazda             180

4. BMW                  81

5. Ford                   30


IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship (unofficial, after 3 of 4 races):

1. Honda                41 points (2 wins)

1. Chevrolet                    40 (1 win)

3. Mazda               22

4. BMW                  19

5. Ford                   12