Honda CR-Z Takes Early Class Lead at Thunderhill

With American Le Mans Series champion Simon Pagenaud at the wheel, the #93 Honda Performance Development (HPD) Honda CR-Z has taken the early lead in the Endurance 3 class at in the 2010 edition of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill National Auto Sport Association (NASA) endurance race. At the three-hour mark, the HPD CR-Z leads a pair of Mazda Miatas for class honors, while a second HPD CR-Z continues to recover from an early pit penalty.

Driven by SCCA World Challenge champion Peter Cunningham, the #19 CR-Z started from the E3 pole, but was penalized five minutes after fuel was spilled during the first scheduled stop at the 1:15 mark. That handed the lead over to the Mazda Miata of Miata Cage Racing, but only briefly as Pagenaud - who started well back in the field after being delayed by rain in qualifying - stormed through the field in the first hour. The #93 CR-Z took over the class lead at the 1-hour, 30-minute mark, and continued to lead through the second round of pit stops, when Pagenaud handed over to co- driver Sage Marie.

The pit violation dropped the #19 CR-Z to the rear of the 22-car E3 field, but the HPD entry is quickly recovering with Bryan Johnson taking over driving duties after the second pit stop and running 12th in class after the stop.

The Honda Team Research-West Honda Fit, started by Jeremy Croiset, is running ninth in the early going, the best-place of three E3 cars built to new "B-Spec" rules. A pair of B-Spec Mazda2s also are running this year's Thunderhill event.

Simon Pagenaud (#93 Honda Performance Development Honda CR-Z) E3 class leader after 3 of 25 hours: "The Honda CR-Z is running beautifully. We started pretty far back after the rain in qualifying, so the first 30- minutes or so were quite a lot of fun. I got to pass a lot of cars! I drove the first two stints with no problem at all, and now Sage [Marie] is in the car. There are still many hours of racing to go, but it's been a great start for us."

-source: honda racing