B-Spec, a new and more affordable form of Touring Car racing, made its professional debut April 28-29 with multiple events on both the East Coast and in the Western U.S. At Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, Honda’s Sage Marie led a 1-2 finish for Honda in his B-Spec Fit in Sunday’s weekend finale.
An eight-car field, including a pair of Honda Fits, was on the grid at Miller for the inaugural three B-Spec races held as part of the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge weekend. Across the country, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, another eight B-Spec machines turned up for the first “Sportsman Showcase” B-Spec race as part of the Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge Series.
Marie finished fourth in both of the two races on Saturday at Miller, as he dialed in the handling of his B-Spec Fit. Connor Ford, driving a second Fit in addition to racing in the companion Formula F races, finished fifth in the opener, but did not start the second round.
On Sunday, Marie was part of a four-car battle for the lead in the early laps, but then pulled away to a 3.354-second margin of victory as the others challenged for what became second place. Ford’s Fit prevailed in that battle, just ahead of the Fiesta of Craig Capaldi and Jonathan Start’s Fiat 500, to make it a 1-2 finish for Honda.
“It’s good for Honda Performance Development, it’s good for Honda and it’s good for the class,” Marie said after scoring his first B-Spec victory. “All the difference in the world today, with some fresh tires up front and some [air] pressure changes. The Pirellis worked much, much better today, and made it much easier to balance the car and put down some good, consistent lap times.
“I watched those guys battle behind me, the three of them, and I loved watching them battle back-and-forth, because I was just notching away tenths of a second each lap. I’m very happy,” Marie continued.
“The Fit's top-in-class performance on the track demonstrates that its versatility extends well beyond great packaging and fuel economy,” commented Michael Accavitti, vice president of national marketing operations for American Honda.
In addition to the pair of Honda Fits, the eight-car B-Spec field at Miller included a pair of Ford Fiestas, two Kia Rios, a Fiat 500 and a Mazda2. All entries use stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, competition seat and other safety equipment, and manufacturer-approved suspension components, tires and wheels. Weights and other variables are used to balance competition between the manufacturers, and the target cost for a race-ready car is $25,000-$30,000.
“It’s amazing right how close these cars are right out of the box,” Marie noted. “The first time, you can’t get much better than that. Everybody raced clean, and I have to thank my fellow drivers out there for some good racing.”
B-Spec racing will continue this season at select events in both the SCCA and Grand-Am series. In addition, the category will be part of the Canadian Touring Car Championship and is approved for competition in SCCA Club Racing.