In an epic battle that was not decided until the checkers flew, the Honda-powered OAK Racing pairing of Alex Brundle and Gustavo Yacaman finished a close second in Saturday's Lone Star Le Mans endurance race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
After qualifying on the pole in their first race with Honda power – the third consecutive and fourth pole of the season for Honda – Brundle and Yacaman combined to lead 26 laps of the 77 lap contest, with Brundle also setting fastest race lap. However, a spin after contact from the Spirit of Daytona Corvette prototype, dropped the Ligier-Honda to fifth place mid-race.
As Brundle recovered positions after the spin, the Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas elected to run a fuel conservation strategy, enabling them to complete the race with just two pit stops, one less than the remainder of the prototype field. Despite this, Brundle continued to close on the leaders, passing the series-leading Corvette prototype of Christian Fittipaldi for second with eight laps remaining.
After closing to within a second of the leader, traffic in the closing laps cost Brundle additional time, allowing Pruett to back off the throttle in the final lap and take the win over Brundle by just 2.3 seconds.
Starting fifth, the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda of Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek ran as high as third, before contact with a spinning GT category Porsche resulted in damage to the left rear bodywork and underbody. Van Overbeek continued on to finish fourth, the third top-five finish in 10 races this season for the pair.
The HPD-developed Honda engines used in the TUDOR championship are derived from the Honda "J35" series of production V6 engines and include relevant twin-turbocharger technology, along with the efficiency provided by direct fuel injection. Key production-based components that are utilized include block and heads, crankshaft, direct injection fuel system, valve train components, drive-by-wire throttle, alternator, sensors, fasteners, etc. The engine even utilizes a stock Honda oil filter.
Earlier this weekend, the Compass360 Racing duo of Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple won the ST category aboard their Honda Civic Si in Friday's two-hour, thirty-minute Continental Tire SportsCar Championship race at the Circuit of the Americas. It was the second victory of the season for the pair, who also won the ST category at the Watkins Glen round in July.
Video News Releases from this weekend's TUDOR and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge action at the Circuit of the Americas can be found on the "Honda Racing/HPD Trackside" YouTube channel produced by the Carolinas Production Group. CPG is providing video highlights packages following Honda Racing/HPD events throughout the 2014 season. The video packages can be found at: youtube.com/hondaracingtrackside.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship concludes next month with the season-ending Petit Le Mans, October 2-3 at Road Atlanta in Gainesville, Georgia.
Allen Miller (Project Leader, Sports Cars, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "Congratulations to OAK Racing for an excellent debut using Honda power in their Ligier chassis. They are a great addition to the Honda lineup in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and we're looking forward to contending for the victory again next month at the Petit Le Mans. Congratulations as well to the #2 Extreme Speed Motorsports group for another solid performance, led by Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown. This is an exciting, but very busy period for everyone involved in the sports car program at Honda Performance Development, as we're also taking part in tonight's World Endurance Championship race with the second Extreme Speed HPD-Honda, followed by traveling to Shanghai next month for the China round of the WEC with Extreme Speed."
Alex Brundle (#42 Ligier JSP2 Honda) started 1st (fourth Honda pole of 2014), finished 2nd: "We had massive pace all weekend, so it was easy to catch up to people. But even still, we're not in a position to out-drag the Daytona Prototype cars, so you have to get a bit inventive, as I did there at the end [passing the #5 Corvette of Christian Fittipaldi for second place]. Tops for Ligier and tops for Honda and HPD to come here, get the pole for the first time, and get a podium result."
Circuit: Circuit of the Americas (3.4-mile road course) Austin, Texas
2013 winners: Klaus Graf / Lucas Luhr [Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD-ARX-03c Honda]
Weather: Early-race light rain, hot, humid, 85 degrees F
Top 10 Results:
|1.||1.P||Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas||Chip Ganassi Racing||Riley Ford||77 laps|
|3.||3.P||Joao Barbosa/Christian Fittipaldi||Action Express||Coyote Corvette||+11.016 seconds|
|5.||5.P||Oswaldo Negri Jr./John Pew||Michael Shank Rcg||Riley Ford||+48.448 seconds|
|6.||6.P||Michael Valiante/Richard Westbrook||Spirit of Daytona||Coyote Corvette||76 laps|
|7.||7.P||Jordan Taylor/Ricky Taylor||Wayne Taylor Racing||Dallara Corvette||76 laps|
|8.||1.PC||Luis Diaz/Sean Rayhall||8 Star Motorsports||ORECA FLM09 Chevy||76 laps|
|9.||2.PC||Jon Bennett/Colin Braun||CORE autosport||ORECA FLM09 Chevy||76 laps|
|10.||8.P||Eric Curran/Burt Frisselle||Marsh Racing||Coyote Corvette||76 laps|