- Road America is a 4.1-mile motorsport road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin that hosts a plethora of motorsport action across popular race series programs.
- Once again, Dai showed off an impressive pace in the Pit+Paddock Honda Civic Type R TCX and shocked the field by churning out the fastest Friday practice times, despite having no previous experience at Road America.
- The heat continued to be an issue for every team, but the combination of the track’s challenging layout, fresh pavement, and the drivers’ unyielding, competitive spirit proved even more treacherous throughout the weekend.
The ever-familiar sight of Dai Yoshihara on the TC America news imagery was a fitting way to start the first race after the race series’ summer break. It’s something that Yoshihara has managed to do all season long, even despite having no real-world racing experience at all but one track on the SRO calendar.
The race weekend at Road America was no different. Yoshihara could stay pinned to the limit while other drivers in the field were busy flirting with (or in many cases, exceeding) their own thresholds. But Road America isn’t just about the racing; the parade through Elkhart Lake — one that builds incredible fanfare a day before the race weekend officially begins — is an incredible sight to see. The entire TC America field made its way through the quaint motorsport city, past the iconic Siebkens Resort, and into the heart of its downtown.
There, race fans were able to get up close and personal with the cars and drivers alike. It’s a special scene that continues to be a Road America staple.
RED FLAGS, APLENTY
Friday welcomed the drivers to a picturesque scene — the grass was green and the skies shone blue as the field made their way onto the track for the first of two practice sessions. The smiles would soon fade, however, as drivers shaking the summer break rust off were often exceeding their own ambitious limits. A couple of red flags cut the 30-minute session short and left everyone eager for more seat time. Yoshihara in the Pit+Paddock Honda Civic Type R TCX proved resilient through the morning session and set the pace with a 2:24.787.
The afternoon session brought out another pair of action-stopping red flags, but the drivers were able to log more laps than the morning’s outing. After using the break to pour over some data with the team, Dai proved untouchable at the top and clocked an even more impressive 2:23.968, leaving others scratching their heads about how they’d catch the Japanese driver.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
A restful night in Elkhart Lake is hard to come by, knowing full well that the competition would turn the wick up another notch as the two races drew nearer. The 15-minute Saturday morning qualifying session may have been cooler in the grandstands, but it was hot in the cockpit. Yoshihara went toe toe-to-toe with Matthew Pombo in the fellow Honda Civic Type R TCX, leaving the nearest BMW-powered challenger more than 1.5 seconds adrift. In the end, Pombo managed to pip Yoshihara by a scant 0.019 seconds at the end of the session. Game on for Sunday.
LET’S GO RACING
We didn’t have to wait long for some on-track drama. The green flag saw the frontrunners line up three abreast into Turn 1. Nobody was willing to yield, which proved fatal for Pombo and two of his M2 CS Cup rivals — Aust and Gleason. It was significant enough to red-flag the race and put a momentary pause to the heart-pounding narrative. The restart would put Yoshihara alongside Garrett, who both managed to avoid the scuffle.
Garrett’s ultimate pace proved to be out of range. He led the field to the checkered flag by more than a second, even despite a late full course caution that tightened up the order. Dai would end up finishing the first contest in sixth place but he’d done enough to earn the fastest lap honors for Sunday’s bout.
The straight-line grunt of the M2 CS (Cup) was potent on Sunday, too. The drag race between Garrett and Yoshihara saw Garrett sneak ahead, leaving Dai to fend off his foes in traffic. The heat proved detrimental, however, and Dai ended up having to retire the car after an on-track bump caused damage to his intercooler. Despite the incident, Dai had a lot of positives to extract from the weekend overall and continued to prove that, even as a first-year contestant, he would be a force to be reckoned with.
The next two rounds send the TC America championship south to Sebring International Raceway, an iconic circuit in its own right. For spectators, it’s perhaps best recognized as the host venue for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring enduro, but for drivers, its 3.7-mile highly abrasive and bumpy road surface throws an additional variable into the mix. Turn 17, the last of the lap before the long front straight, is amongst the most challenging and will require every driver to get it right or they’ll pay a hefty price. Dai will again have to leverage his impressive learning curve to put himself and the Pit+Paddock Honda Civic Type R TCX in a position to score.
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.