RealTime Acura’s Weekend at 8 Hours of California at Laguna Seca
Acura NSX team scores top-5 finish in longest race ever at Laguna Seca.
Endurance racing isn’t exactly new to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but in the circuit’s 60-year history, they’ve never held a race quite as long as this one. The inaugural 8 Hours of California, part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, was perhaps not the most successful weekend of racing Laguna Seca has ever seen with low attendance from teams and spectators alike. However, being the first event of its kind we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt that things will get better in subsequent years. Most importantly for us, the RealTime Acura team was there with a pair of NSX GT3s and newly-hired Acura factory driver Dane Cameron. What better excuse than that for a trip to the race track?
As it happens, this race wasn’t particularly successful for Acura, either. With two cars in their arsenal and six very strong drivers in their lineup, they certainly looked well prepared for the event. The #43 throwback-livery car of Ryan Eversley, Tom Dyer, and the aforementioned Cameron had some issues with suspension setup in qualifying and ended up at the very tail end of the GT3 grid. Peter Kox qualified the #93 in 6th position and teamed with Mark Wilkins and Jules Gounon. Audi, Porsche, and McLaren were going to be difficult to beat in this race, but that didn’t stop Acura from trying.
At the start, both Eversley and Kox picked up meaningful spots in the field and were running fifth and sixth in lockstep for the next couple dozen laps. Nearing the end of the first hour, the #93 car came in with overheating issues and was sent back out. When the overheating issues continued, the team decided to retire the car rather than risk running the car hot for another seven hours. And with that, their efforts were cut in half before the race had really even started. “I think we had a really good car,” Kox said. “The Acura was performing really well. I’m disappointed for the whole RealTime Acura crew and everyone at HPD.”
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By the time Eversley handed over to Dane Cameron for his first stint in an Acura, he’d moved up to fifth place in the line. Audi had pretty much secured a stranglehold on the lead of the race, running 1-2-3 and slightly quicker than the remainder of the field. The one remaining McLaren (two entered, but only one took the start) was fighting tooth and nail to stay ahead of the Acura. Due to some safety car shenanigans, the #43 car was dropped down a lap at the halfway point. The team worked hard and managed to get their lap back, but then fell down a lap again thanks to a late race pit stop infraction.
In the final hour, one of the Audis punted one of the other Audis from the lead, and the NSX GT3 was able to move up into fourth position for the checkered flag. “It was a good, solid day,” Cameron said. “We’re a little disappointed. I think we should have been there, fighting at the end, for a podium. P4 after a messy day with some of the safety cars and going a lap down, not on our own doing, put us a little bit on the back foot. The team did a great job recovering and P4 is pretty solid.”
This was the first time since 2010 that the RealTime team had to work through full pit stops with driver changes and refueling. They’ve been running sprint races for all that time, and despite that one small pit stop infraction, were otherwise flawless on pit road for the full 8 hours. They can go into the offseason proud of their accomplishments, even if they didn’t end on a victory.