HPD Blog

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Team Honda Research-West Takes SCCA Majors Victories in Arizona


WILLCOX, AZ – February 23, 2014 – Team Honda Research-West drivers Mike Tsay, Matt Staal, and Lee Niffenegger traveled to Inde Motorsports Ranch in Willcox, Arizona February 22-23 for the second round of the SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour.  The Majors events consist of a 30-minute “sprint” race on Saturday with a 40-minute “feature” race on Sunday.  Mike Tsay was competing in the B-SPEC class with a 2010 Honda Fit, while Niffenegger and Staal piloted their 2012 Honda Civic Si’s in the Touring 4 category.

THR-W drivers participated in the Friday test day to familiarize themselves with the Inde Motorsports circuit.  The track was new to almost all  SCCA competitors, and what they found was a highly technical track with slow hairpins, blind crests, and fast, sweeping corners.  Lap times consistently dropped throughout the day as the drivers became more familiar with the track.

Saturday morning dawned cold and clear while the team prepared for qualifying.   The technical nature of the track  made passing difficult, so achieving a good qualifying position was  critical. Niffenegger and Staal posted 1-2 qualifying times in the T4 class.  In B-SPEC, Mike Tsay  grabbed the  pole for THR-W over a Mazda2 and the Honda Fit of HPD Race Club’s Tom Grosart.

Race One lived up to expectations as Niffenegger and Staal battled traffic and each other for the Touring 4 victory.  Niffenegger pulled out an early lead, but eventually found himself held up by a car that was faster on the straightaways but slower in the corners.  This allowed Staal to catch up to his teammate's bumper late in the race.  Staal was able to have a look heading into Turn 1 when Niffenegger  was slowed by a lapped car.  However, Niffenegger held his teammate off and the finishing order remained unchanged  as both drivers collected valuable points towards the Western Conference Majors standings.

“That was a non-stop intense race.” said Staal.  “It was difficult with all of the cars that were running nearly identical lap times in completely different ways.  That is one of the big challenges of multi-class racing.”

Mike Tsay also had a tough race in his Honda Fit.   His challenge  was to maintain momentum, keeping B-SPEC competitors behind him while allowing faster traffic to safely pass.

“I got a good start and was able to keep my momentum up to stay ahead of the  second-place car,” Tsay noted.  “He learned the track quickly and got right up behind me during the last two laps.  However, he got a bit too close to some traffic at the end of the main straight and went off to avoid contact; leaving me to grab my  first P1 podium of the season.”

The Sunday Feature  was much calmer from a traffic standpoint for the faster T4 cars.  The biggest challenge proved to be tire wear.  Not only was the track filled with demanding turns, but the surface was quite abrasive.  Both THR-W T4 drivers noticed high rates of wear to the left front tires following the shorter Saturday race.  Knowing that the Sunday race would be  longer, both Staal and Niffenegger had to balance speed with tire management.

Niffenegger started on T4 class pole by virtue of having the fastest lap of the weekend.  He  translated this into his second win of the weekend and fourth straight to start the Majors Tour.

“The track was very abrasive and the left front is really punished at Inde,” said Niffenegger.  “My strategy was to be as kind as possible to the left front, but that’s not very easy here.  I was able to lay down some very fast laps at the beginning and then just maintain a gap over Matt.  I knew he was facing the same issues as me.  He’s a formidable competitor and a great teammate.  He definitely forces me to be on top of my game.!”

The Sunday race saw an even tighter B-SPEC duel.  Armed with data from qualifying and the race, Tsay looked for precious seconds to try and hold off (FIRST NAME???) Ambrose.  Tsay started in front again, but despite upping his race pace bynearly two seconds, Ambrose was a constant presence in the FIT’s rear-view mirror. About halfway through the race, Ambrose dove inside at the end of the straight and made a clean pass.  Ambrose held on for the win, with Tsay and Grosart finishing second  and  third, respectively.

Following the Inde round, Niffenegger has stretched his points lead in Touring 4, with Staal running second overall.  In B-SPEC, Mike Tsay holds a solid second place in points.  The SCCA Western Conference Majors season continues on the weekend of April 12 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, CA. 

 

HART Lands Pole at Sebring International Raceway


Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge: Sebring International Raceway recap for HART Racing

 

HART returned to sunny Florida for the second race of the 2014 season.  This time, the team traveled to the oldest sports-car track in the US, Sebring International Raceway.  Sebring is known not only for its history, but for its surface.  The circuit is made up of both asphalt and concrete, with most of it being original. Over the years, the surface has seen better days, but its bumps and cracks – coupled with the high speeds – create some of the most challenging corners of any track in the world.  If you can make your car go fast and last at Sebring, it will work anywhere.
This would be the first time for many of the HART members to visit Sebring.  It would also be the first time for three of the team’s four drivers to run there.  The team arrived at the track early in the week to take advantage of a test day.  After lengthy repairs from damage incurred at the previous race the cars were ready to hit the track (or, so they thought).  Cars 92 and 93 rolled onto the track for the first of two one-hour test sessions, only to be cut short after only two laps, when the 93 car started smoking!  Chad Gilsinger was behind the wheel as the cabin started filling with smoke.  He managed to get the car back to the pits just as a fire broke out beneath the car.  Luckily, the crew and on-site fire department was ready and were able to extinguish the fire before any major damage occurred.
The cause ended up being a drain plug that had worked loose and was spraying oil on the exhaust.  This oil also got on the track, and the session was cut short as cleanup was necessary.  The cars would be ready for the final test session, however, and both cars ran flawlessly, giving the drivers valuable seat time and the crew data to help plan for the upcoming event.
On Wednesday, the IMSA event sessions would officially begin, and the team prepared for two one-hour  practice sessions.  The goal was to try chassis settings that would work with the bumpy conditions, but still give the car good control and tire wear.  HART knew it could make the car go fast but could it keep a consistent pace lap after lap?  The advantage of having two identical cars is that you can try multiple changes at once. HART tried different combinations on both #92 and #93 to see what worked best.

Throughout the test, the cars were typically in the top five, so the key focus was longevity.  The team needed to control its tire management against the lighter-weight and better-balanced Mazda MX-5.  At the close of practice, HART was confident it had made improvements, but would it be enough?  Directionally, HART was on the right track, so the team made even more changes for qualifying.  Normally, the team does not make these types of changes for qualifying, but it wanted to use this time to get more data.

On Thursday, the only activity for the team would be a 15-minute qualifying session.  Steve Eich would qualify the #92 car and Chad Gilsinger would qualify the #93 car.  The two cars took the track at the back of the field to make sure they could get a gap and have clear track ahead of them.  The Sebring surface is very hard on tires with little grip, so it would be important to get a good lap early when the tire was at its optimum.  Gilsinger jumped to the pole quickly on his first flying lap, but soon was knocked back to second.  Eich was struggling with the setup chosen for #92 but still managed to better his time for the weekend. Unfortunately, it was only good for 22nd spot on the grid.  After the post-tech qualifying results were released, Gilsinger had hopped back up to the pole position when the CJ Wilson Mazda MX-5 was disqualified for a rule infraction.  This also handed the new track qualifying record to Gilsinger.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” admitted Gilsinger after taking his third ST pole with a lap of 2 minutes, 24.508 seconds (93.171 mph). “I was really happy with second, because I didn’t think we would be up that high. This is a demanding track, especially with a front-wheel drive car, because we put a lot of demand on the tires. This isn’t how we wanted to get the pole, but of course, we’ll take it.”

Heading into race day the team had high hopes.  Throughout the evening, the team worked hard to get the cars ready while also updating the #92 chassis settings to match #93.  Gilsinger was able to put in the best time of the week in qualifying, as the chassis changes showed even more improvement.  Race Day brought beautiful weather and a sunny sky.  The goal for #92 was to benefit from the chassis improvements and move  through the field, while the goal for #93 was to focus on tire and brake management and keep the car in the top five.  As the green flag flew, both cars did exactly what they were supposed to.  Steve Eich had a great start and by the time he would pit, had already moved near the top 10 in position.
Gilsinger got a good jump on the field and was able to lead many of the opening laps. He managed to stay in the top five approaching the halfway point.  In a rare occurrence, there would be no yellows in the first half of the race.  The team decided to pit the cars under green conditions to gain needed track position if /when a yellow would occur.  The #92 car would pit first, with Kevin Boehm taking over driving duties.  Shortly afterward, crew chief Andrew Salzano made the call for Gilsinger to pit.  As Gilsinger approached the final corner before the pits (bumpy turn 17) the car suddenly lost drive force.  Chad was able to coast the car to the pit box but #93 was now in big trouble. 
The team did not panic, completed the pit stop, and assessed the concern.  It turned out that the outer drive-shaft joint had broken off the shaft.  The team went to work and was able to replace the drive shaft in about 10 minutes.  The crew did a great job to get the car back on track, but unfortunately the #93 car was now four laps down.  All hope was now on the #92 car of Boehm.  Boehm ran consistent times and started picking off cars one by one, moving into the top 10 by the checkered flag.  A violent late-race crash involving other competitors ended Boehm’s run towards the front, as the last 20-30 minutes of the race were run under caution.  Boehm was able to land in ninth position as the final results came out.  
“We have to catch a break sometime,” said crew chief Andrew Salzano.  “The crew did an awesome job and the drivers showed our competitiveness, with the pole and a top-10 finish.  If we could just get a little bit of luck, we are sure to see the podium soon.  At least we walked away from this weekend with no car damage!”
 
You can follow all the action on the new IMSA website, www.imsa.com
The Sebring race will be aired on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday, March 19, at 1pm EDT, and on Fox Sports 2 Sunday, March 23, at 7:30pm EDT
The next event will be at Laguna Seca, May 2-3.
To keep up with HART’s progress and to see pictures and video of the cars and team, ‘Like’ us on Facebook  ( www.facebook.com/HARTracingteam )
Follow us on Twitter @HARTracingteam
Special thanks to all our Sponsors/Partners.  We would like to welcome RAYS WHEELS to the list, for providing us with new forged wheels that are lightweight and help improve our pit-stop times!
 

 

 
 

 











Thursday, March 6, 2014

HART kicks off the season at Daytona with the new 2014 Honda Civic Si


Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge: BMW Performance 200 recap for HART Racing

After a long winter break, HART is ready to start the 2014 season with a new 2014 Honda Civic Si and its current 2012 Civic Si from last season.  The driver lineup will stay mostly the same with Chad Gilsinger and Michael Valiante driving the #93 and Steve Eich, Kevin Boehm, and John Schmitt sharing duties for the #92 car.  The crew has been spending the off-season updating equipment, tools, and most importantly, practicing pit stops.  Races are often won or lost in the pits, and HART is sure to be one of the teams to watch down pit lane.

With temperatures being below zero and snow covering the ground, the Ohio-based team had a rough few days loading for this season’s opener, but everyone is always excited to head down south to Daytona.   The team has always been strong on the famous Daytona circuit and was leading the race last year until suffering brake pad failure, which forced it  to retire.  After testing with multiple brake pad manufacturers, the team is confident that reliability will not be an issue this year.
Practice 1 would set the tone as each team went on track to kick off the 2014 season.  The off-season work and continuous improvement from the team paid dividends early as it led the first practice session, setting the bar for the weekend.  Knowing the car was strong, the team used the second practice session to fine-tune the chassis that would keep the car consistent throughout the entire 2.5 hour race.  New for this year, teams are required to start the race on the same tires they qualify on, so it will be more important to manage tire wear, even in qualifying.  Qualifying is once again a 15-minute shootout for each class.  At a track like Daytona, it is critical to get a draft. Without a draft, you can lose 1-1.5 seconds of lap time, which could cost you 10-15 spots on the grid.  The team decided to partner with other teams to try and work with one another out on track.  John Schmitt qualified the #92 car while Chad Gilsinger qualified the #93 car.  Both cars were slotted solidly in the middle of the field in the early laps, but the team knew both cars were stronger.  It’s all about timing, and Gilsinger was able to time the draft in the last few laps of qualifying, laying down a 2 minute, 04.861 second  lap on the last lap which put him  second on the grid, only 0.092 seconds off of pole.  Schmitt was unable to catch a good draft and had to settle for 18th in the 35-car field.

On the morning of race day, the team used its final practice to focus on pit stops.  The drivers would do ‘out’ and ‘in’ laps to practice actual ‘hot’ stops in the pits, just as they would in the race.  This was valuable testing as the team was able to set up the equipment perfectly for the race.  As practice came to a close, the team only had a couple of hours to get the cars ready for the race.  The weather was the best it had been all week, with sunny skies and brisk 60-degree temperatures.  The green flag would drop at 1:45 p.m. to begin the 2014 season.   Both cars had a great start, as #93 battled with two BMWs for the lead and #92 was able to use the draft to move through the field. The #93 would continue to swap places between 3rd and 4th with another Civic Si, but the two BMWs up front were gaining a little bit each lap.  The 6th-gear ratio in the Honda is great for fuel economy in public use, but at 150 mph, it could not keep up with the Autobahn-designed gearing of the BMW.   Meanwhile, the #92 car was able to pick up some spots and made sure to stay with the pack until the first round of pit stops.

A yellow-flag came out just before the halfway mark, so HART decided to take the opportunity to pit both cars for driver changes.  Michael Valiante would take over the #93 car and Kevin Boehm would now pilot the #92.  This year, the new IMSA timing and scoring system logs total time from or ’Pit In’ to ’Pit Out’ for each car.  The HART crew lived up to  its reputation and proved that practice does make perfect as both cars were serviced in almost exactly the same amount of time and their pit stops were among the top  five best times  among all the teams!  At this point, it was up to the drivers. 

After the first round of pit stops, Valiante was still in the top five on track and Boehm was right around mid-pack.  Both drivers were anxious to move to the front, but the second half of the race was littered with cautions that restricted passing and ticked time off the clock.  Valiante was able to move up to fourth while battling with another Civic Si fielded by the Compass 360 team, and Boehm was attempting to move into the top 10.  With about 15 minutes left in the race, Valiante and the Compass Civic Si were nose-to-tail while approaching a lapped car going into the “bus stop” turn at 140 mph.  The lapped car did not yield to the leaders and caught the Compass car off-guard, causing him to take an evasive maneuver which led to contact with the HART car, and the rest is history.  Once again, the bad luck streak at Daytona showed its head, as the Civics made contact with each other and then the wall.  The race was done for the #93 car, and would now end under caution to clean up all the debris.  This would ultimately hurt the #92 car as well, forcing it to finish in the 13th position under caution.

“It’s not really the result we were hoping for, but at least we know we have strong cars”, said crew chief Andrew Salzano.  “The crew did an awesome job during the pit stops and the drivers showed our competitiveness. We did everything right, but we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The damage to #93 was limited to mostly bolt-on parts, so the team should be able to repair the cars quickly for the next race in mid-March at Sebring.  This will be the first time the team has been to Sebring in many years and the first time it will run the Civic Si there.  This first race was filled with plenty of ups and downs, but the HART team has high hopes moving forward.  This being Race One of a 12-race series, the excitement has just begun.

You can follow all the action on the new IMSA website, www.imsa.com
The next event will be at Sebring on March 12-15th.  This will mark the first time for many HART members to visit this historic track.
To keep up with HART’s progress and to see pictures and video of the cars and team, Like us on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/HARTracingteam )
Follow HART on Twitter @HARTracingteam
 




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

HPD B-Spec Rally Fit Conquers 100 Acre Wood


Salem, MO. (Feb 21-22, 2014) – HPD and THR head to 2014 100 Acre Wood Rally with B-SPEC Honda Fit

THR partnered with HPD to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the second round of the Rally-America National Championship. 

“We had a fantastic 2013 season, where we were able to finish first in the B-Spec National Championship, and fourth in the 2WD overall National Championship.  Based on that success, we wanted to come back and build on that success by refining the B-Spec package for the Honda Fit," stated James Robinson, Honda Engineer and driver for THR.  “Looking forward to 2014, we hope to have more competition and excitement in the class, thanks to the continued involvement of Ford Racing and Toyota.” 

The B-Spec Rally Fit started the 2014 season with a win in the B-Spec Championship at the Sno*Drift rally.  “We were excited to get the season started with a win, and also to make it through the challenging snow and ice event without any issues,” Robinson said prior to traveling to the 100 Acre Wood Rally.  Based on the experiences from 2013, the team was hopeful to repeat its success in the fast gravel event held in Missouri. 

HPD and THR started the second round of the 2014 Rally-America championship series with a lot of excitement. Starting out on the mostly dry and fast roads, the Fit was able to build up a five-minute lead over the other B-Spec Toyota Yaris. 

“The road conditions are fantastic, and we’re really having a great time out there,” Robinson said following the eighth stage. “We’ll try and push the pace a bit to try and keep up with the faster 2WD cars.” 

Moving into the second day of competition, which included nine new stages, the B-Spec Fit continued to grow its lead over the Toyota Yaris. By afternoon, conditions had warmed enough for the team to gain some additional time.  “The afternoon stages really felt good for us, and we are able to push the pace of the Fit to its limit,” said James.

Finally, the B-Spec Honda Fit was able to hold off the Yaris and claim victory in the second round of the 2014 B-Spec National Championship. The Fit finished fifth-fastest overall in 2WD, and averaged 20.2 MPG over the course of the entire event.

“We were happy to finish with nearly a 20-minute lead over our competition and have no real issues throughout the event. The Fit was fantastic all weekend,” Robinson said afterward. “We’re excited to have to good finishes so far, and hope to carry that momentum into the third round of the Rally-America National Championship!”

 Look for the Honda Fit at the next round in Orgeon!


About 100 Acre Wood Rally:

The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is the second race of the Rally America National Championship and is known as one of the most scenic. Named after the storybook home of Winnie the Pooh, the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is a picturesque race with enough twists and turns to test every driver’s ability. Set in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, this race is always a favorite due to its pristine surroundings and fast, tight roads. Although you won’t see Winnie the Pooh or any of his friends, you will see some of the best rally driving on some of the best rally roads in North America.

About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Formula F Growth Continues as 2014 Season Begins


The 2014 professional Formula F season kicked off in January with the start of the Pacific Formula F1600 Championship at Auto Club Speedway near Los Angeles, while several new teams and drivers announced their plans for the upcoming F1600 Formula F Championship Series plans were announced for a Formula F “45th Birthday Party” at Barber Motorsports Park in August.

Pacific F1600 Championship at Auto Club Speedway

In California, the Pacific F1600 Championship opened January 17-19 at the 2.88-mile infield road course at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, with veteran Ethan Shippert and young newcomer Nikita Lastochkin each claiming a victory in the first doubleheader race weekend of the season.

Rookie Lastochkin, who recently announced plans to compete in both the eastern and western Formula F championships this year, qualified on the pole both days and led portions of the first race until a spin and late-race electrical issues ended his day.  Veteran Shippert then went on to claim his second career Formula F win, and first of 2014. 

In Sunday’s finale, Lastochkin again got off to a quick start and was never headed for his first professional Formula F victory.  Shippert survived wheel-to-wheel contact on the opening lap with Chuck Horn, as the latter’s Swift-Honda vaulted over Shippert’s Piper-Honda under braking for the first turn.  Both were able to continue with Shippert finishing fourth and Horn, fifth. 

Next up for the Pacific F1600 Championship Series is the April 25-37 SCCA doubleheader weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway.  More information on the series is available at www.pacificF2000.com. 

F1600 Formula F Adds New Drivers, Teams

The eastern U.S.-based F1600 Formula F Championship season doesn’t open until April, but a number of new drivers have already announced their plans to take part in the 14-race series, along with three new teams.

Florida-based Team Pelfrey brings a heritage of IndyCar competition to Formula F as it joins the series with a powerful, three-car lineup headed by 20-year-old Ayla Agren, who scored a pole and three podium finishes in 2013. 

Augie Lerch, a 17-year-old graduate or SKUSA’s Spec Honda shifter kart class, is a promising rookie find for Pelfrey; along with 21-year-old Garth Rickards who won a Skip Barber race series event at Homestead, Florida, in 2013, in his first year of racing. 

HP Tech, a two-time winner of the Ferrari Challenge Championship and the 2012 F2000 Championship with driver Robert La Rocca, enters to Formula F for the 2014 season with the successful Australian-build Spectrum Honda chassis.  Spectrum-mounted Jake Eidson won the 2013 Formula F title, and moves up to the USF2000 Championship in 2014.   Veterans Scott Rubenzer, Art Foster and Mike Scanlan also will be Spectrum-mounted in 2014.

Virginia-based WISKO Race Engineering had a very successful debut Formula F season in 2013, challenging for the title with driver Aaron Telitz.  Nikita Latsochkin, already a winner in the west coast-based Pacific F1600 Championship, also will drive a WISKO Mygale Honda in the eastern series.  He will be joined by rookie Will Harvey, coming to Formula F from the Bertil Roos Racing Series. 

The 14-race 2014 F1600 Formula F Championship Series opens April 11-13 at Road Atlanta for the first of seven double-header weekends.  Additional information on the F1600 Formula F Championship Series can be found at http://www.f1600series.com/.

Formula F To Be Featured at Barber Summer SpeedFest

The 45th birthday of Formula F class will highlight the SCCA Summer SpeedFest at Barber Motorsports Park, August 9-10.  Three classes of Formula F machines – Formula F, Club and Vintage – representing the beginning of Formula Ford through the modern day National Championship contenders, will run on the anniversary weekend, which will run as part of a doubleheader SCCA race weekend.

A large turnout is expected at the Barber circuit, located in Birmingham, Alabama.  The celebration comes five years after HPD unveiled its new engine for Formula F during the Formula F 40th Birthday Party at Road America in 2009. 

Since the Honda L157A engine became eligible for Formula F at the start of 2010, more than 100 engines have been sold by HPD, and the category has experienced exponential growth, including an increase in SCCA Club Racing competition, the start of two new professional racing series in the USA and an increasing number of young racers graduating from karting to Formula F competition.

A detailed schedule for the two-day weekend will be announced soon, but the schedule is expected to include a practice, qualifying and 30-minute sprint races on Saturday, with a warm-up and longer 50-mile races on Sunday. More information on the SafeRacer SCCA Club Racing program can be found at www.scca.com.   

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Honda Performance Development Unveils 3.5-Liter Prototype Engine

For more information: 
T.E. McHale  (310) 783-3169
Dan Layton   (314) 614-9763




For Immediate Release

Honda Performance Development Unveils 3.5-Liter Prototype Engine

·         Starworks Motorsport to Debut HR35TT at Sebring

·         Latest Racing Application of Production-Based Honda V6 Engine

·         Two-Team HPD Effort In TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
SANTA CLARITA, Calif., Feb. 20, 2014 – Honda Performance Development Thursday announced a new, 3.5-liter racing application for the versatile, production-based Honda V6 engine found in a wide range of Honda/Acura passenger cars and light trucks and now raced in multiple categories worldwide.

The Honda HR35TT twin-turbocharged V6 is expected to make its TUDOR United SportsCar Championship debut at the 2014 Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring, mounted in a Riley Gen3 prototype chassis campaigned by Starworks Motorsport.

Previously, Starworks partnered with HPD to win the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship in 2012, using HPD’s ARX-03b chassis and Honda HR28TT twin-turbocharged V6, which also is derived from Honda’s J35 series of engines. 

Starworks becomes the second team to utilize Honda power for the new TUDOR championship.  Extreme Speed Motorsports campaigns a pair of prototype class HPD ARX-03b Hondas, after a successful initial season with the same package in the 2013 American Le Mans Series.

“This is an exciting program for HPD and our customer teams in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship,” said Steve Eriksen, HPD Vice President and COO.  “Adding Starworks, a team that achieved great success with us in 2012, in a prototype machine alongside the proven HPD-Honda combination run by Extreme Speed Motorsports provides HPD with a strong, balanced attack in the inaugural TUDOR Championship.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to be partnering with Honda once again,” said Starworks team owner Peter Baron.  “No doubt we had amazing success with HPD in 2012, but unfortunately it was only a one-year program.  We have had numerous conversations over the past two years about building a Daytona Prototype motor and we're thrilled to see it come to fruition.  We absolutely love working with HPD and have been in collaboration to find a new opportunity to partner with them again.  We will have our work cut out with the steep learning curve to get us to Victory Lane, but HPD brings determination and success to every program it touches.  Although HPD already competes in the Prototype class, we feel this is huge step for the TUDOR series and Starworks is thrilled to be part of it."

Starworks Motorsport has compiled an enviable record in Daytona Prototype competition, with five race victories, including back-to-back wins at Indianapolis in 2012 and 2013; and a second-place finish in the Daytona Prototype team championship in 2012, with two victories and six podium finishes.  That same year, Starworks became the first American-based prototype team to win an FIA World Championship since 1968, and HPD won its first world title in WEC competition. 

The HPD-developed twin-turbocharged Honda engines to be used in the TUDOR championship are both derived from the Honda J35 series of production V6 engines, and include relevant twin-turbocharger technology, along with the efficiency provided by direct fuel injection.  

The HR35TT is yet another competition application of the ubiquitous J35 engine.  The first, the HR28TT, was designed for LMP2 competition and won in its American Le Mans Series debut in 2011.  The engine has gone on to record 24 individual race victories and three series titles in the American Le Mans Series, World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series Competition.

Other variants of the engine have been raced in Japan’s Autobacs SuperGT Championship, the One Lap of America competitive rally and Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda performance company within North America.  Located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. The company is marking its 20th anniversary in 2013.

As an engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series, Honda has scored 204 race victories in both CART and IZOD IndyCar Series competition since 1994, and powered Scott Dixon to a series-high four victories and the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers’ championship.

HPD offers a variety of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; and showcases “fun-to-drive” products for professional, amateur and entry-level racers.

Honda HR35TT V6 Engine

  • Engine Type                 Aluminum alloy, twin-turbocharged, direct fuel-injected V6  
  • Displacement               3.5 liters
  • Valve Train                   Single overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder
  • Crankshaft                   Alloy steel
  • Pistons                         Forged aluminum, low-friction coatings
  • Connecting Rods        Machined alloy steel
  • Engine Management   HPD/McLaren
  • Ignition System           Digital inductive
  • Lubrication                  Dry sump system
  • Cooling                        Single mechanical water pump
  • Fuel                              E10 100-101 octane gasoline, 10% ethanol

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

HPD and THR Head to 2014 Sno*drift Rally with B-Spec Honda Fit

Atlanta, MI. (January 24-25th, 2014)


Team Honda Research continued its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Sno*Drift Rally, the first round of the 2014 Rally America National Championship. 

Returning for the 2014 season, the B-Spec Fit team was looking forward to starting the difficult Sno*Drift rally and defending its 2013 B-Spec Championship title. With an increased number of strong 2WD entries from both Ford and Toyota, the first round would be hotly contested on the cold and treacherous roads of northern Michigan.

“We’re excited to be back for the beginning of the 2014 Rally America season,” said Honda B-Spec Driver James Robinson, “Sno*Drift is a unique event to the Rally America series, and we’re confident that the changes we’ve been working on for the Fit on will improve our competitiveness here.”

With nine stages to contest on Day One, the Fit set off with Jordan Guitar again filling the co-driver seat. “Our goal this weekend is to showcase what the B-Spec Fit can do in the wintery conditions,” said Guitar, “The weather is very cold, with high winds, and should be a challenging event.”

By Stage 5, the Fit was running fast and clean, managing to squeeze out a seven-minute lead over the B-Spec Yaris entry, and keeping pace with some of the more powerful 2WD cars. “The roads are slick right now, with lots of cars sliding off the road and getting stuck,” said Robinson at the first service, “but I’m gaining more confidence with each stage, and we’re really starting to get into a great rhythm.” 

As a testament to the Fit’s capability in the icy conditions, the cars of two competitors were pulled from snow banks during the first day’s competition.  “We know how frustrating it is to get stuck on stage, and with the gap we had built up over the B-Spec competition, we had a bit of margin to stop and help some fellow competitors,” James noted. “Usually, this results in only a minute or two of additional time, but it really is the heart of rallying.  Even though we are in direct competition with each other, it’s normal for rally teams to help each other out.”

As Day 1 drew to a close, the team of Robinson and Guitar had amassed a 40-minute lead over the B-Spec Toyota. The Fit had some minor damage, however, as the slippery conditions of Stage 8 had left them without the front bumper, which was ripped off during an impact with a snow bank. “We had a minor impact with a snow bank on Stage 8,” said Robinson, “but the car is still running strong, so we’ll do a thorough check tonight and return at full strength for tomorrow’s stages.”

As Day 2 got underway, the Fit continued to add to its lead over the other B-Spec competitors. By the first service, the Fit had added another six minutes to its advantage and continued to keep pace with some of the Top 2WD cars. “We’re having fun today,” stated Guitar at the Atlanta Service, “the car is running strong and James is driving great, so we’re going to try and maintain our momentum.”

Stage 14 proved to be a problem for the Fit, however. About 1.5 miles into the stage, one corner proved more slippery than predicted, and the car slid through the corner and got stuck in the snow bank on the other side. “We lost a little bit of time on that stage,” reported Robinson at the second service of the day. “We’re going to try and push a bit more through the remaining stages to see if we can catch the top 2WD cars.”

At the end of the event, the Fit had finished first in B-Spec, and had managed a third-place finish in 2WD overall. “We are very happy with our results this weekend,” said Robinson after the event. “This is a great way to kick off the 2014 season, and gives us good confidence going into the remaining events.”

Look for the THR B-Spec Fit to continue in its hunt for the championship next month at The Rally in the 100-Acre Wood in Salem, MO.

About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com 

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