Yoshihara Tackles 2023 TC America Race at Road America
Following a summer break, TC America is back in action — and ENEOS ambassador Dai Yoshihara answered the call to battle at Road America in the Pit+Paddock Civic Type R TCX. This is another circuit where Dai showed impressive pace despite no previous racing experience.
Although the track received fresh pavement, the combination of its challenging layout and sweltering heat made the races challenging throughout the weekend. Road America is more than just racing and the community of Elkhart Lake, WI hosts its own fan fest and parade, where the entire TC America field makes its way through downtown, giving locals an opportunity to meet the drivers.
Friday’s first practice gave teams an opportunity to shake off the cobwebs, although some exceeded their limits, resulting in red flags that cut seat time by 30 minutes. Dai was resilient throughout the session, setting the pace with 2:24.787.
The second session saw more red flags but the drivers were able to log more laps than the morning. Utilizing the break to go over data, Dai clocked an even more impressive lap time of 2.23.968.
Saturday’s qualifying saw Dai go heads up against Matthew Pombo in a battle between two Civic Type Rs, and both beat the closest BMW competitor by 1.5sec. At the end of the session, Pombo narrowly edged out Yoshihara by 0.019sec.
On-track drama finally surfaced on Sunday during Race 1 after the green flag dropped. As the pack went three-deep into Turn 1, and with nobody willing to yield, a collision and red flag paused the race; the restart placed Dai next to Colin Garrett in his Rooster Hall Racing BMW M2 CS, both of whom managed to avoid the scuffle.
Garrett’s pace was untouchable as he led the field to the checkered flag by more than a second, despite a late full course caution that tightened the order. Dai finished the first contest in sixth place but earned the fastest lap honors.
In race two, the straight-line grunt of Garrett’s M2 was too much for Dai’s Type R, and the drag race saw Garrett pull away, leaving Dai to fight a competitive pack. Unfortunately, the heat proved detrimental, forcing Dai to retire after an on-track bump damaged his intercooler.
Despite the issue, the positive outcome is Dai continuously proves he’s a force to be reckoned with as a first-time TC America competitor. He said, “Even though it was my first time at Road America, I’m hooked! Turn 7 has my heart, and I can’t wait to close the season out the best I can.”
ROAD AMERICA RACE 1 RESULTS – TCX
|1||Colin Garrett||Rooster Hall Racing BMW M2 CS||2:24.641|
|2||Lucas Catania||Rigid Speed Company BMW M2 CS||2:24.913|
|3||Aaron Kaplan||Kaplan Racing Systems BMW M2 CS||2:25.690|
|4||Kenny Schmied||AOA Racing BMW M2 CS||2:26.033|
|5||Joseph Catania||Rigid Speed Company BMW M2 CS||2:26.787|
|6||Dai Yoshihara||VGRT Honda Civic Type R TCX||2:24.448|
ROAD AMERICA RACE 2 RESULTS – TCX
|1||Colin Garrett||Rooster Hall Racing BMW M2 CS||2:25.213|
|2||Lucas Catania||Rigid Speed Company BMW M2 CS||2:25.294|
|3||Kenny Schmied||AOA Racing BMW M2 CS||2:25.750|
|4||Nick Roberts||Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS||2:25.548|
|5||Joseph Catania||Rigid Speed Company BMW M2 CS||2:26.729|
2023 OVERALL STANDINGS – TCX
Dai heads south to Sebring International Raceway for Rounds 11 and 12 of the TC America series, held September 22-24, 2023.
Photos: courtesy of Pit+Paddock