TCR / 15 May 2023
Double win for Civic Type R TCR in Japan while FL5 scores first pole in USA
Anna Inotsume continued the winning run of the Honda Civic Type R TCR as TCR Japan began last weekend while LA Honda World Racing scored the first pole position for the new FL5 model on its North American debut.
Anna Inotsume made an almost perfect beginning to the season with two wins, two fastest laps, one pole position and one other front-row start at Suzuka.
The Hagoromo 6 by Dome Racing driver was one of the few drivers to choose wet tyres for Saturday Series qualifying and benefitted to take a pole position that gave her a clear run at Turn 1 when racing began.
She was unchallenged as she stormed to victory and then started best of all on Sunday to move to the head of the field once more. She leads both the Saturday and Sunday Series while Dome head the entrants' points.
Mototino, driving for 55Moto Racing, was third in Race Two, having briefly moved into second on the opening lap, while Junichi Umemoto was a season-high fourth on Sunday.
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
LA Honda World Racing were the first customer team to take delivery of the new Civic Type R TCR FL5 in March, but due to the IMPC schedule, had to wait until Laguna Seca last weekend to debut it.
Mat Pombo could not have started more spectacularly as he delivered the FL5's first pole position anywhere in the world and his fourth TCR pole in a row for the team.
He and Ryan Eversley scored their best finish of the year with third in the race - less than three seconds from victory.
Team-mates William Tally and Mike Lamarra - still in the FK7 Civic -made excellent progress in the race from 12th on the grid, but an issue with an electronic sensor 90 minutes into the two-hour race ended their chances of retaining their series lead as they finished 10th.
VGRT, for whom Victor Gonzalez Jr qualified a season's best seventh, suffered a front puncture inside 15 minutes, forcing them to make an unplanned stop of their own and dropping them to ninth.
JAS Driver Development Programme Jack Young starred on his first appearance for the Honda China-supported Dongfeng Racing Team (run by MacPro Racing Team) as the revamped series began at Shanghai with a 32-car grid.
The Northern Irishman qualified third but was desperately unlucky to be blocked at the start as the pole-sitter stalled. After falling to fourth he picked off his rivals to finish second. He was on course for another podium on Sunday when a technical issue put him out.
Team-mate Martin Xie started the opener from last place after a qualifying crash and finished 14th. He improved to seventh on Sunday.
Norris Racing's Tony Chan was best of the Am class drivers with eighth on Sunday while team-mate Chun Leung Chan was 11th on Saturday. Spark Racing's Jie Yun Zhou had a best result of eighth while Starcars Racing's Jia Xin Hu retired on both days.
Reigning champion Tony D'Alberto topped both Friday practice sessions for Honda Wall Racing, but little else went right after a penultimate-lap puncture robbed him of a podium finish in Phillip Island's opening race after he'd qualified third.
A late off in Race Two and 11th spot in the finale means he's ninth in the points with two rounds done, but did open the door for his new team-mate Brad Harris to make an impact.
Ninth in the opener followed by a stunning fourth in Race Two served notice of his intent to cause an upset later this season.