The 2016 North American Car of the Year, the Honda Civic Coupe, powered Olsbergs MSE driver Joni Wiman to the manufacturer’s seventh top-five finish in Washington, D.C. this afternoon in front of a near sellout crowd at the temporary circuit at RFK Stadium.
Wiman led his teammate, Sebastian Eriksson, in the 10-lap final. The 22-year-old showcased the Civic Coupe’s rigor and grace, navigating through the mud and soaked 10-turn circuit on his way to his fourth top-five result of the year.
Friday’s on-track activity commenced with two 50-minute practice sessions, where the Honda Racing duo of Wiman and Eriksson gained valuable experience on the 74.6 percent pavement/25.4 percent dirt and sand-composed .899-mile circuit. In the evening’s qualification rounds, Wiman finished third and Eriksson seventh. The Civic Coupes took to the course in Heat 1A, with Wiman’s No. 31 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic finishing in second place and the No. 93 Civic of Eriksson in fourth.
Saturday’s second round heats once again placed the Honda Civic Coupes together in the same heat, 2B. Wiman started second and Eriksson fourth in the six-lap heat. At the start, Wiman held his ground through the initial sector of the course, with Eriksson in fourth. On the second lap, the Honda Racing team took the Joker Lap, after which Wiman maintained second position, but Eriksson took the third position from Nelson Piquet Jr. The Civic Coupes went on to finish together in second and third place.
In the semi-finals, Wiman advanced by keeping his Honda Civic smooth and consistent through the dirt and asphalt, finishing in second place. In the following semi-final, Eriksson battled Patrik Sandell and Tanner Foust until the very end and was rewarded with the final transfer position into the 10-car final.
Following a heavy rain shower, the field was given a reconnaissance lap around the now muddy and soaked circuit. The main event would put a premium on the precision and reliability of the Honda Civics and their 8,500 rpm Honda Performance Development-prepared engines. Off the line, Wiman and Eriksson battled heavy contact from the field. After the first lap carnage, Wiman and Eriksson secured the fifth and sixth positions, poised to make a charge to the front.
Unfortunately, due to heavy contact, Eriksson was forced to retire from the race on Lap Seven. Wiman’s Honda Civic navigated through the muck and puddlesuntil the laps ran out for the 22 year-old Finnish driver, but he secured the top-five result, his fourth of the season.
Honda remains third in the Red Bull GRC manufacturers’ championship heading into Round Nine, August 28 in Atlantic City, N.J. The event takes place at Bader Field, a retired municipal airport in New Jersey, and can be seen live on NBC at 3 p.m. ET, with online coverage by Red Bull TV beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Joni Wiman (No. 31 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic) on the result: “It was a super difficult final race for us. I was hoping to really get a good start and at least hold my result through the mud and wet [part of the] course. Unfortunately, I got squeezed in the first part of the circuit and from there just held on to ffth place. It was very difficult to even see out of the windshield, so to bring the Honda Civic back to the garage with a decent result was all we could really expect in those conditions.”
Sebastian Eriksson (No. 93 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic): “It was just a difficult weekend for me here. It was little things here and there, and then we suffered the contact to the rear fender and ultimately a shredded tire. I couldn’t even finish the race. I’m disappointed I couldn’t bring home a great finish in the Honda Civic. We’re really close to making it all happen, so I’m excited for Atlantic City.”