- The third round of TC America landed in Austin, Texas where Dai and the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX would be tested by a grueling track layout and high temperatures.
- Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is a 3.425-mile, 20-turn circuit that has quickly become one of the most iconic tracks in the United States.
- Given its pace through the first two rounds, a heavy 418 lbs (190kg) ballast was added to the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX to try and keep the field more competitive.
The steep climb up to Turn 1 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) represented Dai Yoshihara’s weekend to a T, but he wasn’t alone. We anticipated that hot ambient temperatures would be a big challenge for the grid throughout the rest of the season, but the ever-changing weather conditions that swirled around the Austin, Texas playground made dialing in the perfect setup a difficult task. Indeed, the track map may have been the same, but from the driver’s seat, it was a very different circuit every time a session went green.
We alluded to Dai’s experience at COTA before and that data set proved immediately valuable through Friday’s practice sessions. Despite knowing that COTA would have its cards stacked against the Honda (including a hefty ballast), Yoshihara was only 0.2 seconds off the top pace in the No. 99 Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX; Dai snagged third place in a gloomy Practice 1 behind two charging M2CS Cup cars — defending champion Colin Garrett and Lucas Catania.
The second practice was more indicative of the weather we expected to find at COTA and Yoshihara made quick work of showing off an impressive pace at the front of the field. Amongst his challengers, Lucas Catania proved to be the most venerable and eventually pipped the fastest time from Dai by a scant 0.223 seconds in the closing stages of Practice 2. Still, there was a lot to look forward to for the races to come.
The skies opened up over a cool and cloudy qualifying session which meant it was Dai’s time to shine. His impressive car control amidst the downpour — a consequence of more than a decade of experience in Formula DRIFT — proved to be a real difference-maker and took the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX to pole position by 0.339 seconds.
Still, the M2CS Cup TCX cars that trailed looked formidable at COTA — the circuit definitely seemed to favor its layout compared to the front-wheel-drive Type Rs in the class. What’s worse, Formula 1 veteran Jenson Button remarked that pole position at COTA put the car on a steeper incline than P2, which meant Dai would be on the defensive right from the jump.
- Daijiro Yoshihara #99, Pit+Paddock Civic Type R (TCX) – 1st, 2:26.001
- Lucas Catania #26, Rigid Speed Company M2 CS Cup (TCX) – 2nd, 2:26.340 (+0.339)
- Maddie Aust #09, Fast Track Racing M2 CS Cup (TCX) – 3rd, 2:26.757 (+0.417)
SATURDAY RACE 1
The cloud cover continued as the track went green for the first of two races and Dai Yoshihara charged up the infamous 11% grade straightaway climb into Turn 1. The Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX was tasked with double duty quite quickly, however; Dai not only had to focus on his own race out front, but also the gaggle of M2CS Cup cars behind him who were eager for an opportunity. Midway through the 40-minute session, Yoshihara was bullied from every direction and, despite a valiant defensive effort, was eventually passed by the likes of Catania, Garret, and Aust.
Despite another strong showing behind the wheel, the racing gods would have one last thing to say, and it was a cruel statement. With less than two minutes to go, Dai’s left front tire succumbed to a puncture, sending him spiraling down the order and out of the points once again.
SUNDAY RACE 2
COTA’s 3.425-mile lap distance means that weather can play an even greater role in determining a driver’s fate. While it was sunny, grippy, and hot in some sections, light rain from previous sessions left other parts of the circuit greasy and cool. The dichotomy made it difficult for Dai and he was unable to claw himself up the order, even as the track surface became more uniform late in the race. A sixth-place finish was all that Yoshihara could muster, though it was one better than where he started.
Loh in the No. 73 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type R managed to find pace and keep his nose clean to earn the last podium spot amidst the BMWs who were keen to trade paint throughout the weekend.
The next round sends the TC America championship east to Virginia International Raceway (VIR), a 3.270-mile circuit that hosts a slew of professional motorsport series like IMSA and, of course, GT World Challenge. The layout should provide some opportunities for Dai and the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX to shine. Despite no shortage of bad luck through the first three race weekends, Yoshihara has easily been one of the stand-out drivers in the series thus far, bar none. We will aim to put our best foot forward, and with it, more points on the board in Round 4.
Thank you to our esteemed partners for supporting Dai Yoshihara’s inaugural campaign in TC America: Pit+Paddock, ARP, ENEOS, ACT, Turn 14 Distribution, Aeromotive, CSF, Fluidampr, MBRP, Powerstop, and Whiteline.