Dai Yoshihara Makes IMSA Debut With Pit+Paddock Honda Civic Type R TCR at Daytona
The 2024 IMSA season kicked off at the world famous Daytona International Speedway, also marking an exciting series debut for ENEOS ambassador Dai Yoshihara with the Montreal Motorsport Group and co-pilot Karl Wittmer in the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCR.
With a field made up of 45 entries between GS and TCR classes, the Daytona opener had the most crowded entry list to date, and the four-hour endurance required sheer determination from drivers and teams in order to stay at the front of the pack.
Under Karl Wittmer’s leadership, the FL5 CTR qualified impressively at P2 for Friday’s contest, while the team’s sister car also qualified well at P6.
Since Wittmer qualified, the race was his to start. Not long after the green flag dropped, he seized an opportunity to leap into the lead and held onto it through one of several full-course cautions.
A driver swap took place during a routine pit stop at 2:57, allowing Dai to log the first laps of his IMSA racing debut. By the halfway mark he took the lead while a majority of the field diverted to pit lane during another full-course caution. Soon after a wave-by penalty was served as the result of a persistent radio failure. Dai dropped down to P14 as a result, but the team rallied to make the most of the situation.
As the clock ticked down, Wittmer put in the work to get the CTR back on pace. Two more full course cautions helped tighten the field and then it was nose-to-tail action in both the GS and TC classes until the checkered flag, where Wittmer finished seventh.
The season is still very fresh and Team MMG have a lot to look forward to this season as they collect points for the championship.
“The pace was there for us from practice through the race, which was promising,” said Dai. “The radio blackout was a bummer, but we’re proud to put points on the board. I’m incredibly thankful to the team, Karl, and all our sponsors for making this happen. I’ve never trained so hard for an opportunity, and my priority is to train even harder before the next round at Sebring.”
“It was an incredible mix of work ethic and execution by the team that led us to score good points, despite a recovery drive and fighting our way back from P14,” Wittmer explained, being complementary of Dai’s first IMSA performance. “I’m very proud of our first outing together, and appreciate everyone for their constant effort and hard work!”
Yoshihara, Wittmer, and Team MMG head to Sebring International Raceway from March 13-16, 2024 for the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Photos: courtesy of Pit+Paddock