- Sebring International Raceway is a road course defined by attrition; its abrasive surface is a brutal test of equipment and driver equally.
- Dai was determined to prove he and the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX had something extra in the tank for Rounds 11 and 12 at Sebring International Raceway.
- Dai carried forward his impressive practice form into race results, finishing 4th in both Saturday and Sunday contests.
- Yoshihara’s success at Sebring is a testament to his consistency; he has scored valuable points in the last ten consecutive contests in his first year competing in the TCX class.
Playing at iconic stadiums often brings out a different level of performance. Case in point, drivers who arrive at Sebring International Raceway often do so with something to prove. The infamous track — thanks to its more than seven decades of motorsport heritage — often motivates the most competitive pilots exponentially, knowing that a victory would earn them a place amongst legends. Dai Yoshihara has been turned it up since the TC America summer break and after learning ever more about the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX at Road America, felt even better equipped to extract the most from the car at Sebring.
Like most of the circuits on the TC America calendar, this weekend marked the first time Dai had driven at Sebring. Nevertheless, we were once again treated to Yoshihara’s incredible raw pace, earning 3rd place in the first session (0.057 seconds behind his second-place foe). The raceway’s reputation for being harsh on equipment proved true, claiming a rear suspension shock mount on the car during that first go. The VGRT team put all hands on deck to sort out the issue and it paid off. The Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX, under the capable control of Dai, went out early during the second practice and earned top honors.
Dai’s pace made the entire TCX class turn the wick up for qualifying. Pole position was anyone’s best guess as the timing charts changed rapidly throughout the session. Dai had less overall seat time during qualifying, which relegated him to starting 7th in Saturday’s race, but the team knew there was enough pace in the car to make proper amends.
The issues during practice and qualifying were blessings in disguise because Dai and the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX were faultless in both Saturday and Sunday contests. Despite the abrasive road surface, the car seems to favor the flat, 17-turn layout versus the undulating flow of the previous two rounds. In the first race, Dai opened the taps at all the right moments, seizing every opportunity that presented itself as he ascended from 7th place to 4th by the time the checkered flag waved — a mere 0.162 seconds from a podium spot.
The Sunday contest promoted Dai from 5th to 4th in the end, marking his 10th consecutive round with points on the board and another impressive tally to Yoshihara’s inaugural campaign. His masterclass at Sebring meant more than points, however. Dai and the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX earned a “hard charger” award, which sent him home with some extra hardware to add to his trophy cabinet. “I drove the best here out of any race so far,” confessed Dai. “After every race weekend, I feel like I’ve gelled with the car more and learned how to improve my race craft.” Indeed, that post-race admission proved that Dai’s learning curve for wheel-to-wheel grip racing was rapidly accelerating. As the team looked forward to the season finale in Indianapolis, you could tell that there was an immense amount of optimism in the garage.
It’s hard to believe, but the last two rounds of this year’s TC America championship are only a week away. Dai, the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX, and the VGRT team will ride that positive wave all the way to the finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As the last contest on the calendar, there will be no-holds-barred here, so we will aim high to put a proud exclamation mark on Dai’s first grip racing endeavor before next year’s campaign. See you all in Indy!
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.