Fuji Lap Record
Last month we covered round two of the series from Okayama. In that race Ryo Michigami (5Zigen Accord driver interviewed in the April issue) started from the pole in the TAKATA DOME NSX but was punted off the track by the TOM'S SC430 in the first turn. For round three at Fuji Speedway, Michigami's co-driver Takashi Kogure was able to put the #18 NSX back on the pole while setting a new course record during qualifying.
This time things started out much better for the #18 car. The P-2 TOM'S SC430 pulled off the track during the formation lap giving Kogure some extra room down Fuji's long front straight. He made it through turn one clean then gaped the field as they fought with each other and fell behind. This continued through the first round of pit stops where Michigami jumped into the NSX.
On lap 53, the #32 EPSON NSX collided with a backmarker that had spun in the Netz corner. No drivers were injured but the resulting fire caused a red flag, stopping the race. This cost Michigami his 20-second lead but he steadily opened it back up after the restart.
Shortly after the halfway mark, #18 slowed due to gearbox problems. The crew did a transmission swap while only loosing 12 laps. This got them back out for the finish but all hopes of winning were gone. The TAKATA DOME NSX team is due for a win though. We'll be pulling for them in round four at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
Sato Gets The Point
Takuma Sato scores first Formula 1 Championship point for the Honda-powered Super Aguri team.
There has been a healthy rivalry this year between the two Honda-powered teams. Unlike last year when they were using an updated version of an old '02 Arrows chassis, the Super Aguri team is now using a slightly modified RA106, Honda Racing's race-winning chassis from last year. Things have also been evened up with both teams now using Honda's RA807-E V8 engine and carbon-cased "quick shift" transmission.
Rubens Barichello driving for the factory Honda Racing F1 team has consistently finished highest among the four cars. But ex-factory driver Takuma Sato has shown moments of speed, out-qualifying his old team in all three opening rounds of the championship.
Sadly, neither team looks ready to win any races this year as none of the cars finished high enough to even earn any championship points leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix. But, on May 13 Sato fought off the reigning champion Renault team to finish in 8th place, earning the Super Aguri Honda team its very first Formula 1 championship point. This sparked a huge celebration with the team hanging off the wall at the finish and practically dog-piling Sato in the pits. "It's fantastic, all the hard work done by the boys in Leafield on limited resources, and back in Tochigi, the Honda support is enormous and the fans and sponsors, I am proud of them all," Sato said
Meanwhile, the factory team continued to struggle. Button pulled the ultimate bonehead move in motorsports while re-entering the track after his second pit stop. He attempted to beat his teammate to turn one and ended up driving into the back of Barichello. The collision tore the nose off the car and sent Button back into the pits for another one. This just added to the embarrassment of being officially ranked below the Super Aguri Honda team in the points standings.
Two weeks later, Barichello was back at the top of the Honda field at the Monaco Grand Prix. But his 10th place finish couldn't take anything away from Sato's lead in the driver's championship. We can only hope that this ongoing rivalry will push both teams forward and onto the podium where the Honda racers should be.
Dario Franchitti Tastes Victory At The Indy 500The 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 was held on Sunday May 27, 2007. For the second consecutive season, Honda powered the entire 33-car starting field at Indy. And, for the second year in a row, there was not a single engine-related retirement in the event. After a long race day, interrupted and then cut short by rain, Franchitti finally got to drink the traditional victory milk, even if it was a little watered down.
Penske driver, Helio Castroneves started from the pole and had some great racing with Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti for the first half of the race. But, on lap 113 it began to rain causing the race to be stopped for close to three hours. This allowed Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, and Franchitti to catch up and join the fight for the restart. Franchitti didn't get very far though before his right rear tire went down. The flat caused him to pit early, putting him out of sequence with the leaders. This allowed him to stay out and assume first place when the leaders came in under full course yellow on lap 157.
Franchitti now had the track position but had to drive his ass off to stay in front of the pack that was all on fresh tires. Luck was on his side though. After the first lap of the restart, Marco Andretti and Wheldon got together causing a 10th full-course yellow followed by a downpour that would bring out the checker. The pouring rain could do nothing however to slow down the masses of fans eager to congratulate Dario in Victory Lane. Or, maybe they just wanted to see his beautiful wife Ashley Judd in her soaking wet sundress.
Nhra Sport Compact Records Continue To Drop At EnglishtownOur boy Jeremy Lookofsky seems to have taken up permanent residence on this page of our magazine. But as long as he keeps going faster we are more than happy to have him here. At Englishtown, Lookofsky cut the Honda Tuning Magazine All Motor record down to 9.33 seconds. This time, he wasn't able to take his tube-frame Civic to the finals though.
Norris Prayoonto took his Insight up against his Clutchmasters teammate Saul Salceda in the final round. Salceda never made it out of the hole though, giving Prayoonto his fifth career win.
Stephanie Eggum was able to take down Kenny Tran's Scion with her Blaze Motorsport Honda Civic in the Hot Rod class. She almost knocked herself out of the competition when she had complications on a bye run. Fortunately, she made it through to run an 8.12 at 181.91mph, in a great race against Tran's 8.28 at 174.26 in the finals.