HPD Blog

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Team Honda Research Caps Impressive Year

T3 National Championship Highlights Season
RAYMOND, Ohio (November 3, 2009) – Bob Boileau’s victory at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs last month was a fitting finish to a season of race wins and divisional titles for BFGoodrich-sponsored Team Honda Research.

Driving his THR Honda S2000 CR in the competitive Touring 3 class, Boileau started from the pole and battled both fellow competitors and a wet-but-drying Road America circuit to claim his first national title, and the second in as many seasons for THR, a team formed by American Honda engineers working in the company’s Research & Development subsidiary.

“I can’t express enough how well the THR Honda ran at the Runoffs,” Boileau said. “The BFG R1 tires were perfect for Road America. The BFG/THR combination was unbeatable at the Runoffs this year and I was thrilled to be part of it!”

From their Central Ohio base, THR drivers posted seven race wins in SCCA National events in 2009 aboard Touring 3 class Honda S2000 CRs; and another 10 victories driving Honda Civic Si’s in the Showroom Stock B category. The THR program helped launch the Honda Racing Line, a program of support for grassroots Honda and Acura racers, announced earlier this year by Honda Racing/Honda Racing Performance [HPD], the competition arm of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

With three wins and two poles in five starts, Inness Eisele led the THR’s season-long T3 attack in the Midwest to claim the SCCA Great Lakes Divisional Championship. New to THR this season, Sage Marie won four times in seven starts of his Honda S2000, and qualified on the pole three times to finish second in the highly competitive Southern Pacific Division.

“This season served as a great foundation for the launch of the Honda Racing/HPD racer-support initiative, and the Honda S2000 CR proved to be the ideal race car: fun, reliable, competitive and – with the help of the H&R dampers – perfectly balanced and controllable,” Marie said. “Our ace in the hole was really the BFG tires, which gave us a definite competitive advantage throughout the season.”

Defending SSB National Champion Lee Niffenegger also won a divisional title for THR this year, taking SSB honors in the SCCA’s Southern Pacific Division with a near-perfect record of six wins and seven poles in seven race starts.

T3 National Championship for THR - 2

Chad Gilsinger also approached perfection during the SCCA regular season, winning four times in as many events to claim the Great Lakes Division SSB title. Completing THR’s SSB lineup, rookie Matthew Staal finished fourth in the Great Lakes SSB championship to qualify for his first SCCA Runoffs.

All six THR drivers featured in their respective classes at the Runoffs, at which a single, final race determines the national champion. After several years at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas, this year the Runoffs moved to the famed Road America circuit in southeastern Wisconsin and more than 600 competitors turned up to take part in 25 national championship races.

Marie started his S2000 CR alongside Boileau on the outside of the T3 front row in his first Runoffs appearance, but was hit and knocked off course on the opening lap to end his day. Eisele completed a THR 1-2-3 performance in qualifying, starting on the inside of the second row. After falling back in the early, wet laps, Eisele gained ground during the final half of the race and finished fifth.

Niffenegger was unable to repeat as SSB champion in his Civic Si, but still finished second for his third consecutive SSB podium result at the Runoffs (second in 2007, prior to winning the 2008 championship). Gilsinger started third and finished fourth in his THR Civic Si, with rookie Staal starting fourth and finishing seventh in his Civic.

“At the start of 2009, the future of THR was uncertain due to the economic conditions we all faced,” Niffenegger recounted. “Fortunately, Honda Performance Development stepped up to expand Honda’s presence in grassroots motorsports. I also can’t say enough about our partner, BFGoodrich, for sticking by us while everything got sorted out. They make the best tire in the paddock right now and we are fortunate to have them on our side. The combination of Honda performance and BFGoodrich R1 tires has proven once again to be as good as anything out there.”

Honda Performance Development (HPD) is Honda’s racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for Honda and Acura’s high-performance racing cars and engines. In addition to its new grassroots motorsports business, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series and spearheaded Acura’s championship-winning efforts in the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

Through its new Honda Racing Line program, Honda Racing/HPD provides support and incentive programs to Honda and Acura racers competing at the SCCA Runoffs and in other forms of grassroots motorsports competition. Additional details on the Honda Racing Line can be found at

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