HPD Blog

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy New IndyCar Year

-Dan Layton

Historically, the period from Thanksgiving to the New Year is the slowest time of the IndyCar season. This is usually when things DON’T get done. But not this year, when one of the busiest off-seasons in memory started in early November, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down one bit as we approach Christmas.

If you follow the sport even casually, you’ve undoubtedly seen/heard/read that Chevrolet and Lotus will be joining the series in 2012 to take us on; that sponsors are returning or stepping up (Verizon, Shell, NTB); and the driver and car count is growing.

Here’s a quick rundown of where things stand for 2011:

Ganassi (4 cars total):
Grows from a single, two-car team to a pair of them. Defending champion Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon are back with the “parent” and nearly intact Target Chip Ganassi Racing team. Graham Rahal, joined by Indy Lights graduate Charlie Kimball, will lead a new “junior” team that will be based out of drag-racing legend Don Prudhomme’s shop in Brownsburg (about five miles west of the existing Ganassi shop). Veteran team manager Mitch Davis returns to Ganassi to run the new team after a year at Coyne and Martin Pare, who engineered Rahal at Newman Haas, will do so again at the House of Chip.

Andretti Autosport (3-4 cars):
It’s been a bit of a rough autumn at AA, as the team lost three sponsors (two of them to Penske!) and its senior driver, Tony Kanaan. On the other hand, Go Daddy has expanded its program – which will now include Ryan Hunter-Reay – and Danica Patrick returns along with Marco Andretti. The team is working hard to remain a four-car operation, soliciting sponsorship for Dan Wheldon while also talking to some funded drivers, including F2 champion Andy Soucek.

Team Penske (3 cars):
The rich get richer, as Penske has brought Shell/Pennzoil back into IndyCar racing after a 10-year absence, will benefit from a expanded presence from Verizon, and snagged both IZOD and Meijer from Andretti Autosport! All three drivers – Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe – will be back.

Panther Racing (1 car):
Despite being most often the “best of the rest” for the last couple of years, especially on ovals, the marriage between Dan Wheldon and Panther Racing was never a happy one, and it has now come to an end. Indy Lights grad JR Hildebrand will take over behind the wheel, as Panther tries to recreate the magic that ensued when it pulled the then-unknown Sam Hornish out of Formula Atlantic.

KV Racing Technology (3+ cars):
KV had a true year-from-hell in 2010, enduring more than 40 crashes from their three full-time drivers. Yet, at least two of those drivers – Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso – are expected back next year, along with increased backing from Lotus Group in preparation for the auto manufacturer joining the series in ’12. As for the third full-time seat, Mario Moraes MIGHT return (if the family continues to pay for the privilege), but veteran Paul Tracy is working hard to put himself in the chair. Other possibilities include Dan Wheldon (the team could certainly use his setup talents on ovals), IndyLights champion J.K. Vernay, Soucek, Tomas Scheckter or even Mike Conway. The team also will run a fourth car at Indy with funding from Redline energy drink. Scheckter is a possibility for this ride, too.

Dreyer & Reinbold (2 cars):
Justin Wilson, who came so close to pulling off an upset win in Toronto last year, returns to a small team that continues to raise its game. Mike Conway may yet return to the second seat after recovering from his Indy injuries, but the team is also looking at other possible drivers, including Tracy, Wheldon, Moraes, Ana Beatriz, etc.

A.J. Foyt Racing (1 car):
Done & dusted: Vitor Meira will be back in the #14 and is signed through the ’12 season. The teams had its moments (Brazil) in ’10, and has decent sponsorship. Vitor and Larry Foyt know what needs to be done to get to the next level; it’s just a question of if they can get there.

FAZZT Race Team (1-2 cars):
Veteran Alex Tagliani (who co-owns the team) will be back, along with his braintrust of Rob Edwards and Allen McDonald. The only question waiting to be answered is if Chinese/Dutch driver Ho-Pin Tung secures enough backing (Red Bull is one rumor) for FAZZT to run a second car.

de Ferran Dragon Racing (1 car):
In a swap of Brazilians announced this week, Tony Kanaan is IN and Raphael Matos is OUT. For the veteran TK, it’s a perfect lifeline after he lost his ride at Andretti in the wake of sponsor 7-Eleven’s departure. For Matos, it’s certainly unfortunate, but while he frequently was very, very quick, he just as frequently threw it at the scenery – or the other competitors. Call it the “Parker Johnstone syndrome” (sorry Parker!!!). But as one of IndyCar’s most popular drivers, TK needs to be in the series. Plus, I want to be a spectator when the at-times-equally-stubborn Kanaan and de Ferran, inevitably, butt heads…..

Newman Haas Racing (1-2 cars):

My, my, how the once mighty have fallen. Two years ago, N-H would have been near the top of this report, now, they’re near the back of the field. But the team from the Chicago Northside isn’t about to give up. Hideki Mutoh will not be back, but the team just tested veteran Oriol Servia and Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe. If the funding can be found, this could be a potent combination, ready to spring a surprise or two in 2011.

HVM (1 car):
This little team has had a productive off-season, securing a new sponsor (not ready to be identified yet, but the deal is done) to help last year’s most popular new driver, Simona de Silvestro. The core of this team, engineer Mike Cannon and the rest, have stuck with Simona and it will be interesting to see them progress next year.

Dale Coyne Racing (1-2 cars):
The “other” team from Chicago will (once again) be rebuilding behind pit wall, as the respected team manager/engineer/chief-cook-and-bottle-washer Mitch Davis has left after 18 months to return to Ganassi. Alex Lloyd will be back in the “Boy Scout” car (another sponsor that is apparently stepping up for next year). Milka “Milk & Donuts” Duno is NOT expected to return, but any second Coyne entry will almost certainly have to be driver-funded.

Conquest Racing (1-2 cars):
Again, Conquest fills the role of a “prep shop” with two cars ready, willing and able, just in need of funded drivers to pay for their upkeep. After a bit of a rough start, Belgian Bertrand Baguette definitely “rose” to the occasion [groan] throughout the second half of ’10, and he has some backing from Europe, so I expect him back. For the second car, Brazilian Mario Romancini ran out of money early and French F3 driver Francesco Dracone was a disappointment, so we’ll have to see what develops here after the first of January.

Sarah Fisher Racing (1 part-time car):
Easy Ed Carpenter’s back – and Sarah Fisher Racing’s got him, for the ovals at least, and perhaps more. Sarah is stepping out of the cockpit to focus on running the team and Ed is a good choice for the ovals. Whether the team runs the road and street courses will depend on funding.

The Rest (???):

In addition to SFR and KV’s fourth car at Indy, you can expect an Indy-only entry from Indy Lights team Sam Schmidt Racing (Jay Howard and/or Townsend Bell driving), and possible additional entries from AFS Racing (which has split off from Andretti), Bryan Herta Autosport, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing (RLLR??) and possibly Derrick Walker Racing. There will certainly be more Indy-only entries, and I suspect we could have a legitimate 40+ driver/car combinations once again at the Speedway.

Ando
Finally, a quick word about John “Ando” Anderson. In a sport filled with unique, larger-than-life figures, Ando still managed to stand out. Incredibly skilled (give the man a pair of tin snips and a sheet of aluminum and he could make almost anything), Ando was an incredibly hard worker, a great teacher, and a natural leader who was both admired AND liked.

In the 30 years he spent here after moving from his native Australia, Ando worked in almost every area of the sport, for teams great and small, primarily in IndyCar but with the odd detour into other forms of racing from time to time – such as his run with de Ferran Motorsports in the recent Acura ALMS program.

There’s not enough time & space here to recount all of his great qualities, or even the hilarious “Ando-isms” that were sprinkled throughout his everyday language. What really stood out with Ando was the sheer joy he brought to everything he did. Here’s just one example:

As the USF1 project – where he’d been hired in 2009 to oversee the never-built car’s production – collapsed around them, Ando found ways to keep workers on the shop floor motivated and the rest of us amused with his updates of “fresh paint on the floor” and “carbon-fiber toasters” (hey, they had to made SOMETHING in those autoclaves….).

Outside of racing, his two loves were flying (an excellent pilot, the tales of “Air Ando” are legendary in the paddock) and his wife, Lesley. Although she has her own successful career in real estate, Lesley was Ando’s true partner in life and it was a rare day indeed when you saw one without the other nearby.

Ando died suddenly last week after an apparent heart attack. He was just 65. To Lesley – and all Ando’s multitude of friends – we offer our most sincere condolences. We’ll not see the likes of him again anytime soon – and the world will be emptier for his absence.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

FAQ: HPD Sale of CR125 Kits

What/who is HPD? 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 American Honda’s high-performance racing cars and engines. In addition to its grassroots motorsports business, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded Acura’s championship-winning efforts in the American Le Mans Series.

Why is HPD entering the karting market? We are continuing to expand our outreach to individual grassroots competitors who are running Honda products. In the past, the CR125 engine kit was only available through Honda Motorcycle dealers. HPD is now making this kit available to individual competitors.

Does HPD’s market entry mean that individuals can no longer purchase parts from their current source? No. If a competitor has a current relationship with a parts shop or engine builder, that’s great. HPD’s involvement in the sport will not affect existing relationships.

Does HPD’s participation mean that dealers or engine rebuild shops must now buy their parts from HPD? No. Independent shops can continue to purchase parts from Honda Motorcycle dealers. These shops can also purchase parts from HPD through the Honda Racing Line as an alternative source.

Why should I as an individual competitor buy CR125 kits/parts from HPD? The Honda Racing Line can offer door/door part delivery through our website sales portal. Our sales staff can also offer technical support, providing racer support for racers, by racers!

What engine models/parts are available from HPD? The CR125, which is sanctioned for use in Spec Honda (Stock Moto) classes.

Is HPD offering the CR125 as a crate engine? No. HPD is offering a parts kit, which the customer will need to assemble.

Will HPD offer any other karting products in the future? HPD will consider expansion of the product line as market needs dictate.

What is the Honda Racing Line? Launched in July 2009, the Honda Racing Line is a program targeted at licensed participants in sanctioned amateur and entry-level professional racing. The Honda Racing Line was formed to provide its members with a direct connection to Honda Performance Development and its unparalleled record of success at the highest levels of motorsport. Competitors may register for the Honda Racing Line through HondaRacingLine.com.

Do I need to be a Honda Racing Line member to buy parts from HPD? Yes. Currently, we are accepting Honda Racing Line applications in preparation for parts sales. Applications will help HPD to forecast product demand, and ensure timely customer delivery.


What is required for kart racers to join the Honda Racing Line? To be eligible for membership you must:
  • Be able to prove current membership in a nationally recognized sanctioning body.
  • Demonstrate that you’re a racer; able to provide official race results for two event finishes within the last year.
  • Complete and submit the Honda Racing Line registration form.
    Be a resident of the United States.
When CR125 parts go on sale, how much will they be? Price lists will be available in early 2011.

Will HPD provide other parts for karters? For now, we are focused on ensuring adequate supply of the CR125 engine/parts to individuals. HPD will consider expansion of the product line as market needs dictate.

Who should I contact at the Honda Racing Line in order to obtain more information? Please contact HPD for sales and product information. HPD can be reached via email at grmsadmin@hra.com, or by calling (661) 702-7777.

Does Honda offer any contingency money for karters? Not at this time.

Does Honda sponsor a particular series at this time? We sponsored the S2 class at the 2010 SuperNats. No sponsorship plans for 2011 have been made at this time.

Does Honda have a driver ‘ladder’ development program? Honda’s range of products offers competitors the opportunity to matriculate into more advanced levels of the sport. HPD’s Honda Racing Line staff can be called upon to offer product insight and support.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THR Stages Strong Rally

Millville, NJ. (November 7, 2010) – The Honda Performance Development-supported Team Honda Research Rally team returned for the third and fourth rounds of the RallyCar US Rallycross Championship held at New Jersey Motorsports Park, finishing 13th and 4th overall. THR returned with Jordan Guitar piloting the 2007 Civic Si.

Changing from the first round, the course was altered to a fraction of its former size, with more dirt sections added in an attempt to increase visibility for a growing fan base. Similar to the first round, each lap featured a jump, and each competitor was required to take the “Joker Lap” during the race, which adding a unique feature and time to that lap. Qualifying and Heat races seeded the top drivers into the Main races.

Utilizing experience gained from Round 1, THR equipped the Civic Si with tires and brakes more suited to dealing with the rigors of tarmac driving, as well as rally dampers to cope with the bumpy dirt sections. Throughout Round 3, this proved a good setup and THR was able qualify for the C Main event. "We finished 13th today, I gained some experience with this style of racing, and have confidence that with the HPD-supported Civic Si, we can find a few more places tomorrow," stated Jordan.

As Round 4 got underway, THR was able to post competitive times through qualifying and the Heat races, and was top-seeded for the C Main. As the race started, a BMW got the jump on everyone off the line, rocketing from fifth to first place, but through the dirt sections, Jordan was able to overtake the BMW before the end of the first lap. Demonstrating strategic use of the "Joker Lap" and maintaining a smooth and consistent line, THR grabbed the win in both the C Main and the B Main, proceeding to the A Main with the top five 2WD cars, and finished 4th overall.

"We had a lot of fun this weekend," Jordan said, "The Honda Performance Development car was reliable all weekend long, and it was great to have the opportunity to drive it. We will continue to make improvements and will return for the 2011 season."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mazda & Honda Unveil B-Spec Racers

SCCA & NASA Adopt “Freeshare” Rules

ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 9, 2010) – With the goal of providing close racing in affordable cars from a variety of manufacturers, Honda and Mazda jointly announce the formation of “B-Spec” Showroom Stock racing.
Mazda and Honda debuted their new B-Spec cars at the recent NASA 25 Hour RaceHonda Performance Development, the racing arm of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, the performance division of Mazda North American Operations, today unveiled their entries for the proposed new low-cost B-Spec, developed from the MAZDA2 and Honda Fit. Both cars will be on display at the annual Performance Racing Industry trade show in front of 40,000 racing insiders.

B-Spec refers to all cars meeting a common set of rules that can be adopted by any race circuit or sanctioning organization. Together, Honda and Mazda solicited an independent body to develop a set of vehicle specifications that will be available for all to use – the motorsports equivalent of “freeware.” The final rules should be ready for release within 60 days.

One of the fastest-growing segments of the automobile business, B-segment cars are among the most affordable, and enjoy great support from younger demographics. In addition to the MAZDA2 and the Honda Fit, the category includes the Chevrolet Aveo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris.

Two prototypes for the class – a MAZDASPEED-run MAZDA2 and a Honda Fit, prepared and entered by Team Honda Research-West – debuted at last weekend’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill season-ending NASA endurance racing contest in Willows, CA.

Designed to be an entry-level category, B-Spec cars will feature showroom stock racing cars utilizing stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, racing seat and other safety equipment; and manufacturer-approved suspension components, tires and wheels. Weight distribution will be used to balance performance among competing manufacturers.

The manufacturers will use an independent third party to homologate competing cars and provide equalized specifications to any interested sanctioning bodies or race tracks. A racer who builds a B-Spec car will be able to race the same car across multiple sanctioning bodies by simply changing the sanctioning-body decals. Only homologated OEM models will be eligible within the rules.

This is intended to be a grassroots class of racing, and at present, there are no plans for a B-Spec professional series.
Quotes:

Marc Sours, General Manager, HPD -- “A cornerstone of our grassroots motorsports initiative has been to establish a connection between Honda’s passenger cars and the racing cars which evolve from these models. The B-Spec category provides a relatively low-cost means for the prospective racer to enter the sport, and the Honda Fit offers a natural point of entry. These are inexpensive, great-handling cars that should provide both excellent competition and help grow the sport at the entry level.”

John Doonan, Manager, Motorsports Team Development, MAZDASPEED -- “Road racing remains a highly popular activity, but affordability is a huge challenge. Mazda enjoys the largest spec class in the world in Spec Miata and the easy way to race the MAZDA2 would have been to create a similar spec class. But we feel cooperation and multi-manufacturer competition can grow the sport for everyone.”

Jeff Dahnert, SCCA President & CEO – “We’re very intrigued by the collaboration of Honda and Mazda on a common rule set for these sub-compact market cars. It’s often perceived that manufacturers are seeking any advantage possible over their competition, but this effort is proof that rivals can work together toward a common goal—one that will likely be attractive to many of SCCA’s members. We look forward to seeing these cars in National competition in 2012”

Jerry Kunzman, Executive Director NASA – “NASA supports the OEMs in their endeavor to create a multi-manufacturer race class for the new B category cars like the MAZDA2 and the Honda Fit. A tightly controlled ruleset which will control costs and limit modifications will make this a drivers’ class and help expose this new segment of vehicles. This is in line with the NASA goals of making racing as affordable as possible to draw even more participants.”

In addition to the four confirmed participants, others have been involved in the discussion with an eye to joining the B-Spec ranks in 2011 or 2012. Ron Stukenberg, Senior Manager, Motorsports, Nissan North America noted that “Nissan Motorsports is very interested in the B Spec program and is closely evaluating it for possible future Versa entrants. The concept of cost-effective, entry-level sedan racing is certainly a great way to hone a driver’s motor-racing skills and hearkens back to the days of our involvement with the BRE 510. In the next few months, Nissan Motorsports should be in a position to finalize our intentions in this new class.”

About the participants:

MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development is the motorsports division of Mazda North American Operations, and has provided support and competition parts for Mazda teams and racers since 1983. MAZDASPEED is involved in racing activities at all levels of the sport, from local autocrosses through multiple levels of professional open-wheel and sports-car racing. On any given weekend, more Mazda cars are road-raced than any other brand.

Honda Performance Development is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. In addition to its grassroots motorsports business, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Since 1944, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has championed one mission: To bring motorsports to the masses of American men and women who are passionate about automobiles, speed and competition. From National Championships to regional events, whether professional or amateur, we exist to organize, support and develop auto racing at every level and provide an outlet for you to get out of the armchair and into the action. So, whether your passion is autocrossing, rallying or road racing as a professional or as a weekend warrior, SCCA wants to help you fuel your passion.

The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) was formed in 1991 to deliver high-quality motorsports events to enthusiasts at major racing venues throughout the nation. NASA has created programs that allow owners of both racecars and high-performance street-driven vehicles to enjoy the full performance capabilities of their cars in a safe and controlled environment. NASA offers many different programs that will allow you to enjoy motorsports on a number of different levels, including our High Performance Driving Events (HPDE), Rally Sport, Time Trial, NASA-X and Competition Racing programs.


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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Honda Racing Line Expands Into Karting

Honda Performance Development to Provide
Build Kits and Rebuild Parts for CR125 ‘Spec Honda’ Class Engine

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (November 4, 2010) – Continuing its mission to meet the needs of grassroots competitors who are racing Honda products, Honda Performance Development, Inc., will begin offering Honda CR125 parts and engine-rebuild kits within the United States for competition in karting’s ‘Spec Honda’ class.

The rebuild kits and service parts will be available through the Honda Racing Line, HPD’s parts and service program for licensed amateur and entry-level professional racers. Licensed kart competitors may now register for the Honda Racing Line through HondaRacingLine.com.

The Honda Racing Line provides its members with a direct connection to Honda Performance Development and its unparalleled record of success at the pinnacle levels of motorsport, including the IZOD IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series. This channel to factory support provides Honda Racing Line members the opportunity to purchase racing-performance parts via convenient web-based ordering, with expedited, door-to-door delivery.

“The Honda Racing Line was founded in 2009 with the goals of supporting existing Honda racers and helping to grow the sport at the ‘grassroots’ level,” said HPD General Manager Marc Sours. “From the start, incorporating a karting component has been an integral part of our plan. Honda’s 125cc engine has been very popular in the karting community. Through this program, we hope to make it easier and quicker for the competitor to obtain parts.”

'Spec Honda' class competitors will be able to purchase a CR125 engine ‘kit’, containing all of the required parts to assemble a complete engine. The engine kit will include a six-speed transmission for the appropriate engine model, with ‘top end’ parts available for 1999-2002 engines, the most popular for karting applications. All parts will be SKUSA, Spec Honda-compliant. HPD will begin taking kit and part orders commencing with the start of the 2011 season.

The Honda Racing Line karting program will be formally launched at the 2010 SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas November 17-21, where Honda/HPD will be a sponsor of the Spec Honda S2 class. Representatives of HPD will attend the event to explain details of the new program and introduce the karting community to the Honda Racing Line. A complete Spec Honda CR125 engine also will be on display.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines.

In addition to its grassroots motorsports business, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

For more information on the Honda Racing Line, interested racers can explore the HPD website, http://hondaracing.com/hpd, or contact the company at:

Honda Performance Development, Inc.
661-702-7777
grmsadmin@hra.com

Monday, November 1, 2010

Honda Racing/HPD at the 2010 NASA Championships

Forty Honda racers from across the country made the trek last month to Miller Motorsports Park outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 2010 National Auto Sport Association (NASA) National Championships, taking part in five of the weekend’s title races, highlighted by large and competitive fields for the Honda Challenge events.

Earlier this year, Honda Performance Development announced a new contingency program for NASA racers in connection with its sponsorship of the Honda Challenge category. All Honda and Acura racers competing at Miller received $500 for taking part in the National Championships, while contingency awards of up to $1,500 were also paid out to the top three finishers in each of the Honda Challenge classes.

Graham Downey claimed the Honda Challenge 1 race victory in his Redstone Motorsports Honda Civic, edging the Honda Prelude of Brandon Kraus, with Brian Shanfeld rounding out the top three in his Team Honda Research Acura TL Type S. Shanfeld went on to win the PTB class championship on Sunday in the same car.

Against one of the larger fields of the weekend, Jonathan Meris won the Honda Challenge 2 race in his Midnight Performance Civic, despite contact early in the race that resulted in a damaged front wheel. After a full-course caution period, Meris passed the Diva Racing entry of Donna Gilio to take the victory.

“The Honda Civic came through when it really counted,” Meris recounted. “At the start, I was able to go from eighth to third by the time we got to the first turn. Unfortunately, the #25 car [of Jeremy Croiset] and I got together and our front wheels seemed like they locked together. Little did I know that a couple of the spokes of my Konig wheel broke off [in the contact]. Luckily, the wheel held together! After the double yellow, I was able to find my groove and work my way to the front. Then I just had to make sure to stay clean to the checkered flag.”

Gilio and Greg Neuwirth, both in Acura Integras, rounded out the top-three finishers in the 18-car Challenge 2 field.

“It was a fantastic event. It’s good to see Honda supporting grassroots racing in this country,” said Gilio, who also finished third in Sunday’s TC race. “If you’re a girl and want to start racing, get into a Honda and race in the Honda Challenge. It’s competitive, fun and the culture of Honda racers are good people.”

Honda/Acura NASA Championship Results:

Honda Challenge 1 (Top 3 finishers)
1. Graham Downey (Redstone Motorsports Honda Civic)
2. Brandon Kraus (Honda Prelude)
3. Brian Shanfeld (THR Acura TL Type S)

Honda Challenge 2 (Top 3 finishers)
1. Jonathan Meris (Midnight Performance Honda Civic)
2. Donna Gilio (Diva Racing Acura Integra)
3. Greg Neuwirth (AEM Acura Integra)

PT B
1. Brian Shanfeld (THR Acura TL Type S)

PT C
3. Donna Gilio (Diva Racing Acura Integra)
4. Manny Coats (Iron Clover Inc. Honda CRX)
5. Jeremy Croiset (Hasport/ASR Honda CRX)

TT S
2. Tage Evanson (KSport Honda Civic)


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Element-D Drifts Into So Cal

Irwindale, CA. (Oct 8-9, 2010) – Continuing their inaugural season in Formula-D competition, Honda Performance Development and Team Honda Research contested the seventh and final round of the 2010 Formula-D series at the Toyota Motor Speedway with the Honda Element-D. http://www.formulad.com/

With over 500HP at the rear wheels, the Element-D is the ultimate tire-shredding SUV and the only Honda in Formula-D competition. The driver, James Robinson, is using an abbreviated 2010 Formula-D season as a way to effectively prepare for a full championship attempt in 2011. http://www.hondaresearch.com/element-d/element-d

The Toyota Speedway in Irwindale is known as the "House of Drift." This legendary venue gave U.S. drifting its roots and is often referred to as the "birthplace" of American drifting. This is the home track for most of the pro drivers, and each year the competition grows more intense. The course is both challenging and exciting, utilizing part of the short oval and numerous inside turns which require lots of speed and lots of power!"

Thanks to many of the lessons we learned from Round 5 in Las Vegas, we were prepared to take on the big speedway track," stated Robinson, "We had no problems from the Element-D and were looking strong for qualifying."

Qualifying took place on Friday, Oct. 8, and the course was packed with more than 40 of Formula-D's most experienced drifters. Facing an uphill battle, the Element headed into its two qualifying runs. The first run yielded a score of 40, which would place the rookie team at the bottom of the board, but the second run brought a strong score of 62.1.

After all the drivers made their passes, the THR team received the news: Qualified 33rd! Although missing the top 32 by just 0.1 points, this marked the rookie team’s highest finish, and provided an excellent way to wrap up the season. Always upbeat, James stated: "Although we weren't able to qualify among the top 32, we are still very excited about the Formula-D series, and are already making plans for a truly competitive Honda vehicle in 2011."

Although the 2010 Formula-D season is finished, plans are under way for 2011. Stay tuned to the HPD blog to see future updates regarding the buildup to Round 1 in Long Beach, in April 2011!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honda Drivers End 2010 Season with a National Title

Team Honda Research and Team Honda Research-West ended their sprint racing season with a successful weekend at the 2010 NASA National Championships held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

Drivers Lawrence Hwang and Brian Shanfeld had high expectations even though this was the first competitive event for either driver at the challenging 3.0-mile Outer Course at Miller Motorsports Park. Lawrence competed in the Honda Challenge 1 class in his THR-W RSX Type S. Brian and his BFGoodrich-sponsored 2007 TL Type S also competed in the Honda Challenge 1 class, as well as in Performance Touring B. Honda Challenge is a set of 5 class races exclusively for modified Honda and Acura cars. The Performance Touring category is a NASA class created using a versatile points system to allow nearly any production car to compete with a wide variety of allowed modifications.

The extended race weekend began with clear skies and high temperatures in the 70s.

The NASA National Championships started on Thursday, September 16, with Qualifying Race #1 for the Honda Challenge class. After a good morning qualifying session that placed him third on the grid, Shanfeld struggled in the race with unpredictable handling and finished a disappointing sixth. Hwang, however, had a strong race, moving up to finish fourth After switching to the faster BFGoodrich R1 tires and making a few setup improvements, Shanfeld had a much better result in Performance Touring Qualifying Race #1. Starting from the outisde of the second row, he was able to chase down the pole-sitting Mini Cooper S and take the win. In the process, he set the fastest race lap in the class for the weekend at 2:11.8.

On Friday, September 17, the format repeated itself with Qualifying Race #2 for each class. The morning didn’t start off well in the Honda Challenge class, as neither Brian nor Lawrence had good qualifying results. Brian’s session ended after only three laps with a broken upper ball joint, sending him to the paddock early. Lawrence ran out of fuel after one clean lap. However, both drivers were able to improve during the race, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. In the Performance Touring race, Brian wasn’t able to repeat his excellent result from Thursday, and instead finished a distant fifth.

With the qualifying races complete, the starting positions were set for Saturday and Sunday’s championship races. Lawrence would be starting third and Brian fifth in Honda Challenge 1 race on Saturday. In Sunday’s Performance Touring race, Brian would be on the outside of the front row.

The weekend weather continued to be dry, but temperatures had climbed into the 80s and the wind had picked up considerably on the flat and dusty Miller Motorsports Park. After a great standing start in the Honda Challenge race, Brian was able to move from his starting position to challenge for the lead through the first sequence of corners. In the end however, he wasn’t able to match the pace of the two leaders and fell back to fourth. After series of battles with the TSX of Andre Hartanto, Brian was able to regain third position and captured the final spot on the podium.
Lawrence was late to the pre-grid and had to start from the pit lane after the entire field had passed by. A crashed-out S2000 led to a damaged splitter on the RSX, but the yellow flag also helped Lawrence catch up to the pack. He was then able to filter through the field and squeeze by the RSX of Kris McCoy by Lap 14. At the end of the front straightaway on the final lap, Lawrence had the nose of the RSX on the rear bumper of the TSX ahead of him, but he ran out of time to further advance and settled for fifth.

In Sunday’s Performance Touring race, Brian charged to the lead from his starting position on the outside of the front row and never looked back. By the end of the first lap, his gap on the field was more than 5 seconds. Brian was able to keep up the fast pace due to the always-consistent BFGoodrich R1 tires and cruised to the victory over a Performance Touring B field that included such diverse vehicles as a Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Mini Cooper S, and Mazda RX8.

Team Honda Research thanks Honda Performance Development for its ever-increasing support of grassroots motorsports and BFGoodrich for supplying fast, consistent, and easy-to-drive R1 tires.



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Acura Nets Ninth GTS Win

Cunningham Outlasts Foes for 40th WC Victory

October 3, 2010—Tooele, Utah

The final round of the 12-race 2010 World Challenge Championship was held at Miller Motorsports Park, in Tooele, Utah, just west of Salt Lake City. Peter Cunningham secured his 10th pole position of the year and his eighth GTS category victory, but it wasn’t quite as simple as that.

Cunningham, who had already locked up the inaugural GTS Drivers’ Championship, and RealTime Acura teammate Nick Esayian, who had already clinched the second spot in the points, knew the outcome of this race wouldn’t affect either’s year-end status, so they were racing for pride and the ‘W’.

The matching Acura TSXs lined up first and fourth, but after the standing start drag race down the long front straightaway to Turn 1, a swarm of rear-wheel-drive GTS competitors drove past, knocking them back to sixth and ninth.

Cunningham worked his way back through the field to third by the end of the first lap. But as he and Ernie Jakobowski’s Porsche Cayman were battling for position, the Corvette of Kyle Kelley drafted past as they crossed the starting line to begin Lap 2 of the 21-lap sprint around the 3.08-mile perimeter circuit.

After dispatching the Porsche, the Acura gave chase to the Corvette and on Lap 6 found its way by. Now up to second place, Cunningham began to reel in the leader, 17-year-old Ben Crosland, in a Ford Mustang FR500S.

By the 13th lap, the TSX was pressuring the Mustang and finally found an open door approaching the final corner. The two raced side-by-side cleanly onto the front straight and Cunningham was able to keep the lead and edge away from there.

Meanwhile, Esayian was filtering through the pack in similar fashion, moving up to fifth by Lap 5 and to fourth on Lap 7. As the race ran caution-free, Nick did his best to catch the third place Mustang of George Winkler. With a lap to go he had him in sights but ran out of time, missing the podium for only the third time in 2010.

On the strength of the two RealTime cars scoring 10 poles and 19 top-three finishes throughout the year, Acura collects its ninth World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship, breaking the tie with Porsche, which owns eight.

Catch all the action from the Miller race in a two hour special on VERSUS, October 30th at 3:00p Eastern.

The RealTime Racing team is sponsored by Acura Motorsports, Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, A-SPEC, BOSCH, and Total Auto Body.

RealTime Acura Wins STU Title at SCCA Runoffs

Richard Cullen Takes Top Club Prize

September 27, 2010—Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Richard Cullen, in his debut with RealTime Racing, drove an Acura TSX to victory in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. It was the inaugural year for the STU category, the newest of 28 National classes which crowned a 2010 Champion this past weekend at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin road racing circuit.


Cullen, an energy-efficient home builder from Marshfield, Massachusetts, qualified for the Runoffs by competing in four National races in a different vehicle earlier in the year, with the intention of securing a seat in a more competitive package for this winner-take-all shootout that determines the National Champion.


“I knew if I could find the right World Challenge car, I’d have the best shot to win the Runoffs in STU,” Cullen said. “And RealTime clearly has the best record over the past several years in that series, so they were the obvious choice. They did not disappoint!”


In dicey conditions with a light drizzle falling, Cullen started the 13-lap event from the outside of the front row. Polesitter Joel Weinberger, in a turbocharged Audi Quattro, missed a gear at the start and fell back to fifth, but within a few laps, he had caught back up to the leading Acura.

The Audi took the lead on lap four and seemed to be able to inch away for a time. But as lapped traffic on the scenic four-mile track began to affect the new leader, and as the track surface began to dry, Cullen’s Acura was able to mount a charge.

On the long straight preceding turn five, the Acura had the run in the slipstream of the Audi and Cullen was able to pull off the winning pass under braking at the famous turn five in front of a cheering crowd.

The Acura held off the Audi’s advances for the final few laps and took the checker by a scant 0.417 seconds. It was 56 year old Cullen’s fourth career Runoffs attempt and his first National Championship title.

The RealTime Racing team is sponsored by Acura Motorsports, Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, A-SPEC, BOSCH, and Total Auto Body.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Honda Drivers End 2010 Season with a National Championship

Team Honda Research and Team Honda Research-West successfully concluded their pursuit of 2010 SCCA national championship titles last week with first, second and third place finishes at the SCCA Runoffs held at Road America Raceway in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Starting from outside the front row, Chad Gilsinger claimed the T3 class checkered flag and his first national championship in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda S2000, earning a race track record in the process. Pole-sitter Sage Marie secured the final step of the T3 podium finishing third in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda S2000, while Jeremy Lucas finished a solid seventh despite it being his first trip to the daunting 4.0 mile Road America circuit. In SSB the 2008 National Champion, Lee Niffenegger, piloted his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si from third on the grid to a second place finish. SSB pole-sitter Matthew Staal’s race ended after an encounter with a gravel trap, but not before he managed to set the fastest lap of the race and a new track record.

Marie set the fastest T3 lap time of the week in the first of three qualifying sessions with a 2:34.706 for a new qualifying lap record. Gilsinger suffered a flat tire in the first qualifying session, but set the fastest time in the subsequent two sessions to start the race second. Staal set the fastest SSB qualifying time with a 2:42.578 in the second qualifying session. Niffenegger set the fast time early in Q2, but the times got faster as the session went on, and he failed to return to the track in time to defend his position.

The start of the T3 race was marked by cool temperatures, high winds, a damp track and raindrops on windshields at various points on the track, making for treacherous conditions. Gilsinger got a slight jump on Marie at the start, but both Hondas were swallowed up by the higher horsepower Nissan and Chevy that started on the second row. Gilsinger slid through the wet first turn at 45 degrees forcing Marie to check up in order to avoid collecting him. Gilsinger and Marie were able to work their way back to first and second, respectively, before interference from a slow STU class car interfered with the battle for second and killed Marie’s momentum.

While enjoying better conditions, the SSB race began much the same way as T3 with the higher horsepower BMWs and Fords getting the best of the Hondas of Staal and Niffenegger at the start. Staal was involved in a heated three-way battle for first when an unsuccessful late-braking passing attempt put him in a grave trap. Niffenegger never lost sight of the leaders and made a last-second pass for third as the checkered flag fell. The second place finishing Mustang was ultimately disqualified for various rules infractions yielding the position to Niffenegger.


“It’s becoming clear that after three years in a row of either SSB or T3 championships, BFGoodrich tires deliver a distinct competitive advantage,” said Marie “The tires performed admirably, even under the most challenging conditions.” “Many thanks Honda Racing/HPD. They continue to increase Honda’s presence in the amateur motorsports arena, and I know all the Honda racers at this year’s event really appreciate it.”


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2010 SCCA Runoffs – Honda Racing/HPD Recap

A total of 38 entries in 11 classes sported Honda Racing/HPD livery at the 2010 Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs, September 25-27 at Elkhart Lake, Wis. That marked an increase of six entries and five classes from the 2009 event.

Honda Racing/HPD enjoyed a very successful Runoffs, with four national championships, (up from one in 2009), as well as podium finishes in another three races. Here is a recap, beginning with the championship performances:


Honda/Acura SCCA National Championships:

Touring 3 (6 Honda S2000s in a field of 13)
1. Chad Gilsinger (THR Honda S2000, started 2nd)
3. Sage Marie (THR Honda S2000, started 1st)
5. John Costello (RaceLabz Honda S2000, started 5th)
7. Jeremy Lucas (THR Honda S2000, started 8th)
8. Frank Levinson (Colletti Motorsports Honda S2000, started 9th)
11. Tommy Boileau (Boileau Motorsports Honda S2000, started 10th)

In a race combined with the new STU class, both Hondas lost ground at the start to the bigger-engined Chevy Cobalts and Nissan Zs, but in terms of overall lap times the S2000s were quicker. Chad Gilsinger chased down Kevin Fandozzi (Chevy Cobalt) and passed him in traffic. Sage Marie dropped to fifth in the opening lap, but then moved up to finish third. In the third THR entry, Jeremy Lucas started eighth and finished seventh. Tommy Boileau (son of 2009 T3 National Champion Bob Boileau) finished 11th in his first runoffs).


STU (1 Acura TSX, 1 Acura Integra and 1 Honda Civic Si, 1 Honda CRX in a field of 19)
1. Richard Cullen (RealTime Racing Acura TSX, started 2nd)
10. David Mead (Specialty Vehicles Honda Civic Si, started 19th)
11. Gregg Ginsberg (Dahl-Morow Honda CRX, started 18th)
17. Greg Amy (Kakashi Racing Acura Intrega, started 7th)

In the same race as T3, Richard Cullen drove an ex-SCCA World Challenge Acura TSX to victory after a race-long duel with the Audi A4 of Joel Weinberger. Like RealTime, the Acura was prepared and run by a professional race shop – Fall Line Racing. Mead and Ginsberg started at the rear of the field, but moved up to 10th and 11th, respectively. Amy dropped out after five laps and was a DNF.


GT-Lite (4 Honda CRX and 1 Honda Civic in a field of 21)
1. Peter Shadowen (Road ‘n Race Honda CRX, started 1st)
2. Jim Dentici (JDM/Ragland Honda CRX, started 3rd)
5. Jim Hargrove (RacEnergy Honda Civic, started 8th)
7. Bob Clark (JDM/Ragland Honda CRX, started 6th)
20. Chris Bovis (JDM/Ragland Honda CRX, started 2nd)

Pending upcoming rule adjustments, Honda continues to own the GT-Lite class. Shadowen started from the pole and held off a strong challenge from defending class champion Dentici (they went side-by-side through the kink on the final lap!) for the win. Hargrove ran a competitive fifth in his first-generation Civic; Clark recovered from an early off-course excursion to finish seventh. Former class champion Bovis started second, but pitted early with overheating due to leaves blocking the grill, then retired one lap later as the problem continued.


F Production (1 Acura Integra, 1 Honda CRX, 1 Honda Civic Del Sol in a field of 28)
1. Kevin Ruck (Engineered Performance Acura Integra, started 3rd)
12. Michael Engelke (King Motorsports Honda CRX, started 28th)
18. James Smith (Over 50 Motorsports Honda Civic Del Sol, started 26th)

An entertaining, competitive race, featuring the second-largest Production/GT/ST field of the weekend. Ruck started third and took over at the front when the Triumph Spitfire of Steve Sargis had a mechanical failure. He then held off several quick Mazda MX-5 Miatas for the victory. Engelke started at the back of the 28-car field, but finished 12th. Smith dropped out with just two laps remaining but was credited with 18th.


Honda/Acura Podium Finishes:

Showroom Stock B (5 Honda Civic Si in a field of 18)
2. Lee Niffenegger (THR Honda Civic Si, started 3rd)
5. Robert Beede (Bill Fenton Motorsports Honda Civic Si, started 7th)
7. Eddie Nakato (Nakato Racing Honda Civic Si, started 10th)
8. Jimmy Crawford (RaceLabz Honda Civic Si, started 12th)
14. Matthew Staal (THR Honda Civic Si, started 1st)

Niffenegger finished third on the track, but was moved up to second after the runner-up Ford Mustang was disqualified for illegal exhaust modification. Early in the race, pole qualifier Staal battled hard with both Stewart and eventual race winner Ed Zabinski (Ford Mustang), but went off course in Turn 5 while attempting a pass for the lead on Lap 4 and rolled in the gravel trap to end his race. After a heavy crash in qualifying Beede finished fifth in his Bill Fenton entry, with Nakato seventh and Crawford eighth for the Honda RaceLabz team.


Showroom Stock C (3 Acura Integra and 1 Honda Honda Civic Si in a field of 20)
2. Joel Lipperini (RaceLabz Acura Integra, started 1st)
11. Peter Keane (GoRacing Acura Integra, started 12th)
13. Michael Crawford (RaceLabz Acura Integra, started 5th)
15. Bill Seifert (Seifert Racing Honda Civic Si, started 19th)

Former champion Lipperini gave it his best shot, but was unable to match the pace of Mark McCaughey’s winning Toyota Celica. Teammate Crawford started fifth, but fell back to 13th at the finish, moving Keane up to 11th. Seifert started 19th and was the final finisher on the lead lap, in 15th.


H Production (3 Honda Civic and 2 Honda CRX in a field of 25)
2. Michael Moser (CORE Racing Honda CRX, started 2nd)
4. Greg Gauper (King Motorsports Honda Civic Si, started 3rd)
7. James Rogerson (Over 50 Motorsports Honda Civic, started 12th)
12. Martin Burk (Turn One Services Honda CRX, started 16th)
21. Terry Boylan (Cartech Honda Civic, started 8th)

After dominating HP last year, Honda’s received a “rules adjustment” for 2010, and as a result, Steve Sargis took his Triumph Spitfire to an uncontested, dominant 40-second victory over the Honda CRX of Michael Moser, who started and finished second, but couldn’t touch Sargis. Gauper, third in 2009, was fourth this year. Rogerson moved up five places in the race to finish seventh, Burk started 16th and finished 12th; while potential top-five finisher Boylan dropped out after 10 laps.


Other Production/GT Classes:

GT-3 (1 Honda Civic Si and 1 Acura RSX in a field of 18)
9. Jim Hargrove (RacEnergy Honda Civic Si, started 18th)
DNS Joe Kristensen (Kristensen Racing Acura RSX, qualified 13th)

Making its competition debut, the tube-frame, rear-wheel-drive Honda Civic Si started 18th and last after engine problems early in the week prevented Jim Hargrove from posting a qualifying time. However, the car proved to be very quick, and he moved up to a ninth-place finish, despite a mid-race spin. Kristensen also suffered mechanical problems in qualifying, and his team elected not to start, rather focusing their efforts on their several Honda race engine customers (Hargrove in GT-3, GT-5, FP and HP).

E Production (1 Honda Prelude in a field of 29)
6. Michael Sturm (Honda City Honda Prelude Si, started 6th)

The largest Production/GT/ST/Touring field of the weekend with 29 starters, but with only one Honda entry (down from 5-6 in recent years). Sturm qualified and finished sixth in a somewhat processional event.


Formula Car Classes:

Formula B (1 Honda CBR1000 in a field of 12)

12. Tom Beattie (Philly Motorsports DB-X, started 11th)

The first year for this one-liter, motorcycle-engine class, Tom Beattie was running a new car designed and built by Philly Motorsports, and using a Honda CBR1000 engine. Unfortunately, Beattie spun and made heavy impact in the “Kink” on Lap 9 to end his race. He was not injured in the crash. The one-off Philly Motorsports chassis was very well engineered and constructed, but appeared to be a bit “large” compared to other designs and was not completely competitive. However, further development time could improve the car.


Formula F (2 Honda Fits in a field of 35)
12. Mike Scanlan (Scanlan Racing Swift DB-6 Honda, started 16th)
24. Dan Layton (Quantum Racing Van Diemen RF98/00 Honda, started 26th)

Formula F was the third-largest race of the weekend (only Spec Miata and Spec Racer Ford had larger fields). However, Honda entries were handicapped by the 29mm air restrictors currently required by the SCCA.

There was a large, multi-car collision at Turn 5 of the opening lap that Scanlan successfully avoided, moving up to 11th in the process. Layton avoided the incident in front, but was hit from behind and spun, ending up with rear suspension damage. After the Lap 4 restart, Scanlan was unable to hold his position due to a lack of straight-line speed, dropping to 14th before recovering to 12th at the finish. Layton restarted in 28th and moved up to 23rd before a last-lap spin in Turn 6 resulted in a 24th-place finish.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Acura, Cunningham Clinch World Challenge GTS Titles

SANTA CLARITA, CA. (Sept. 14, 2010) – Records fell by the handful September 11-12 at Virginia International Raceway as Acura and RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham clinched the SCCA World Challenge GTS category championships for both manufacturers and drivers.

The two GTS wins – by Cunningham on Sunday and teammate Nick Esayian on Saturday – were more than enough to solidify Acura’s position as Manufacturers’ Champion in the inaugural year for the GTS category.

Although new to GTS competition, the title is the ninth – and third consecutive – for Acura in the SCCA World Challenge. Acura also won titles in the former T2 class in 1998 and 1999; and in the Touring category in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Cunningham’s drivers’ title is his sixth, a World Challenge record, and his victory on Sunday was his 40th, also extending his series record.

“Based on how things shook out at the start, I was able to grab the lead and build it until the [late race] caution came out. The restart gave me a bit of a scare with all the [faster] GT [class] guys trying to get by on either side. But we were able to hang on and take the win,” Cunningham said. “Now we can just go have fun at the [season] finale. It’s a great day for Acura, RealTime Racing and Toyo Tires.”

Esayian’s victory on Saturday was his first in GTS competition, while North Carolina’s Kevin Helms combined a third [on Saturday] with a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s race in his DBA/Carbotech Acura RSX.

In the Touring Class, series rookie Brett Sandberg finished third in his Acura TSX on Saturday, while Branden Peterson was the top Honda finisher on the weekend, running fourth in Touring Car in his Civic Si on Sunday.

The 2010 SCCA World Challenge concludes October 1-3 at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RTR Acura Drivers Both Win at VIR Double, Cunningham Clinches GTS WC Title

Esayian Takes First Pro Win

September 13, 2010—Alton, VA


Rounds 10 and 11 of the World Challenge Championship took place at the demanding VIRginia International Raceway, and the RealTime Acura brigade put the icing on the cake that is the 2010 season. With Acura having already been crowned the GTS Category Manufacturers’ Champions, it was a shootout between drivers Peter Cunningham and Nick Esayian for the Drivers’ title.

Saturday

With only one event remaining in the 12-race championship after the conclusion of the VIR weekend, Esayian knew he had to score as many points as he could to keep his title hopes alive, and as it turned out, he did just that by scoring his maiden professional race victory on Saturday.

Cunningham’s Acura TSX had led Round 10 from the standing start, but was slowed due to a rare mechanical glitch on the final lap, within sight of the checkered flag. His day was still salvaged with a fourth place result.

Esayian’s matching RealTime Acura was wrapped up in a race-long battle with Ernie Jakobowski’s Porsche Cayman in treacherous conditions. As the rain began to gently fall about mid-way through the 21-lap contest, all the World Challenge drivers did their best to stay on the road.

In the end, Esayain crossed the line in lockstep with Jakobowski, but the Acura driver was declared the winner when the Porsche was determined to have a noncompliant ride height.

RealTime fielded a third Acura TSX this weekend for Tommy Sadler. Sadler’s real life job is Crew Chief for the Flying Lizards, the highly successful American Le Mans team of Porsche 911s. The Lizards are the defending GT2 Champions and hold a significant lead in the 2010 fight with only one event remaining.

Sadler is originally from the Danville, Virginia area and he took advantage of a break in his schedule to come and play with the Acura boys. He methodically came up to speed through the test and practice days, and then qualified fifth. In his World Challenge debut, he kept his nose clean in the changing track conditions and finished an impressive third place!

Sunday

When the World Challenge cars qualified on Sunday morning for Round 11, the skies were sunny and the ambient temperature was not yet boiling. Cunningham laid down a lap slightly quicker than he had in qualifying on Saturday to take his 41st career pole position.

As the race got underway later in the afternoon, the teams faced hot and sticky conditions on a track that didn’t feel that much grippier than it did when it was sprinkling the day before.


Cunningham led the GTS field into the first corner, with Esayian close behind in second. With his sixth World Challenge Championship on the line, Cunningham inched away from Esayian and all the rest, his only scare coming late in the going when a full course caution erased his sizable lead.

After the restart, the order didn’t change, and Cunningham earned enough points to ice the 2010 GTS Drivers’ Championship.

Esayian finished second, his ninth top-three result in the 11 races held thus far.
With this weekend’s victory and second place results, Esayian is assured of finishing second to Cunningham in the 2010 points tally.

Sadler’s run on Sunday started out on the wrong foot when he got caught up in a tussle on the way to the first corner. With the right side of the car looking quite disheveled, he limped around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit for a pair of right side tires and a few hammer hits and returned to fray, albeit one lap down from the leaders.

Finale

The World Challenge Series concludes its 21st season at Miller Motorsports Park, near Salt Lake City, on October 1-3.

Broadcast

A two-hour broadcast that will highlight the VIR weekend’s races will air on VERSUS on October 30th at 3:00p Eastern. The special two-hour season recap show will also feature the Miller finale race.

Support

The RealTime Racing team is sponsored by Acura Motorsports, Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, A-SPEC, BOSCH, and Total Auto Body.

Honda, Compass360 Repeat As Continental Tire ST Champions

TOOLE, Utah (Sept. 12, 2010) – For the drivers’ and team championships it came down to a tie-breaker, while the manufacturers’ title chase was just a little less close – seven points – as Honda and Compass360 Racing successfully defended their Street Tuner titles in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season finale at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

A third-place finish in Saturday’s 200-mile race for the Compass360 duo of Lawson Aschenbach and David Thilenius in the 10th and final round in the 2010 championship saw the pair tie the BimmerWorld team of Bill Heumann and Seth Thomas on points. In addition, both teams tied in class wins (two each) and second-place finishes (also two apiece).

But neither had a third-place result – until this weekend. That became the tie-breaker, winning the drivers’ title for Aschenbach and Thilenius and the team crown for Toronto-based Compass360.

Honda ended the season with 312 points, to 295 for BMW. It is the second consecutive ST Manufacturers’ Championship for the Honda Civic Si. VW finished third in the title fight that also saw competitive efforts from Mazda, KIA and Mini.

Reflecting the tight championship battle – that saw the points lead swing back-and-forth – the finale at Miller was equally dramatic.

BimmerWorld’s Heumann and Thomas came into the event leading the title fight, but Heumann had to pit his BMW 328i with a broken differential on the second lap and the resulting 30-minute delay for repairs dropped them to an eventual 20th-place finish.

With their competition delayed, Aschenbach and Thilenius now needed a finish of third or better in their Skunk2/HPD Honda Civic Si to secure the title. That’s exactly what they accomplished, but only in final minutes of the race.

“My team was on the radio with me every lap telling me what to do,” Aschenbach said. “We pushed hard and continued to fight. Things needed to fall our way, and today they did.”

Running fourth at the checkers, just behind their Compass360 teammates, Zach Lutz and Ryan Eversley finished the 2010 season tied for fifth in the drivers’ points race. Their season-long results, in addition to those of Aschenbach and Thilenius, proved to be the difference in the Manufacturers’ Championship contest.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Honda Performance Development Announces NASA Championship Support Program

TORRANCE, Calif. (September 13, 2010) – Honda Performance Development and American Honda have released details of their support program for Honda and Acura competitors during the 2010 National Auto Sport Association Championships, Sept. 16-19 at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

“The NASA Championships have demonstrated impressive growth among the country’s amateur racing enthusiasts in a mere few years,” said Erik Berkman, HPD president. “We are pleased to support the NASA Championship efforts of our Honda and Acura competitors for the first time in 2010, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the NASA Championships for years to come.”

To be eligible for support, all Honda competitors must be enrolled in the Honda Racing Line program and display the required “Honda Racing/HPD” or “Acura Motorsports” decals on their race vehicles. Registration for the Honda Racing Line will be offered on-site at Miller Motorsports Park, in the Honda Racing paddock areas.

Administered by the NASA on behalf of HPD and American Honda, these incentives will be distributed following the completion of each National Championship race:
• $500 for starting a National Championship event;
• $1,500 for winning a National Championship, with additional awards of $1,000 and $500 for second- and third-place finishes, respectively.

In addition to these benefits, American Honda will provide a catered hospitality tent on site, exclusively for Honda competitors and crew members. The tent will provide a lunch buffet from Thursday, Sept. 16 through Saturday, Sept. 18.

Competitors may pick up their hospitality passes in the Honda Racing paddock at Miller Motorsports Park.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. In addition to its grassroots motorsports support programs. HPD is the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series and competes in prototype sports-car racing under the HPD banner in the American Le Mans and European Le Mans Series.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Honda Performance Development Announces 2010 SCCA Runoffs Program

TORRANCE, Calif. (August 3, 2010) –Honda Performance Development and American Honda have released details of their support program for Honda and Acura competitors during the 2010 Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs, Sept. 20-26 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“Our support program for the 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs was a critical component of the grassroots motorsports initiative we announced last year,” said Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, Inc. “We were very gratified by the response we received from Honda- and Acura-powered Runoffs competitors at Road America.

“We are pleased to return with an expanded support program for the 2010 Runoffs, and to celebrate the accomplishments of all the drivers who carry the Honda or Acura banner.”

To be eligible for support, all Honda competitors must be enrolled in the Honda Racing Line program and display the required “Honda Racing/HPD” or “Acura Motorsports” decals on their race vehicles. Registration for the Honda Racing Line will be offered on-site at Road America, in the Team Honda Research and Honda Racing paddock areas,

Administered by the SCCA on behalf of HPD and American Honda, these incentives will be distributed following the completion of the Runoffs:
· $500 for starting a Runoffs event;
· $500 for winning a Divisional Championship;
· $2500 for winning a National Championship, with additional awards of $1500 and $1000 for second- and third-place finishes, respectively.

Honda/Acura competitors will be reimbursed with a $100 credit for reserving a paddock parking space at the Runoffs. The space must be reserved directly through Road America and prepaid by the competitor.

In addition to these benefits, American Honda will provide a catered hospitality tent on site, exclusively for Honda competitors and crew members. The tent will provide a lunch buffet from Tuesday, Sept. 21 through Saturday, Sept. 25.

Competitors may pick up their hospitality passes in the Honda Racing paddock at Road America.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. In addition to its grassroots motorsports support programs, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series and competes in prototype sports-car racing under the HPD banner in the American Le Mans and European Le Mans Series.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

US Rallycross Championship – THR Rally

Millville, NJ. –Team Honda Research, with the support of Honda Performance Development, scored an impressive fifth-place finish during the weekend of August 28-29 at the first European-style Rallycross race in U.S. history. The race, held at New Jersey Motorsports Park, was the first round of the inaugural RallyCar U.S. Rallycross Championship. THR and HPD represented Honda in the Rally America-sanctioned event, with Brian Johnston driving a 2007 Honda Civic Si.

RallyCar Rallycross events are based on the successful European Rallycross racing model, and feature cars racing side by side over a 1.3-mile mix of tarmac and dirt. Each lap features a jump, and each competitor is required to take a “Joker Lap” during the race, which adds a unique feature and time to that lap. The Qualifying and Heat races seed the top drivers into the Main races. All three rounds will be broadcast on ESPN2.
As the weekend got started, competitors had to adjust to the new course and format of racing. THR posted competitive times during the first practice session, but things went awry during qualifying when a brake line failed, and the Civic Si limped around the track and back into the pits. “Practice went great,” Johnston stated, “and after our problem in qualifying, the team worked really hard to get the car running again in time for the heat races on Sunday.”

After the poor qualifying result, the THR Civic Si started from third in the “B Main” group for the final event. Johnston got a good start and moved to second on the first lap. On the following lap, THR built enough of a gap to take the “Joker” lap and retain the second spot. When the first-place Nissan took the “Joker,” Johnston made the pass for the lead and never looked back, winning the race and advancing to the “A Main” race with the top six 2WD cars. The THR Civic Si ran a clean race in “A Main” and finished the event in fifth place.

“I’m so proud of what we accomplished this weekend, and it’s thanks to Team Honda Research for having a great car to drive,” Johnston said afterward. “This track was so much fun, and the wheel-to-wheel racing makes a great spectacle for the fans. We’ve learned a lot about this new form of racing, and we’ll apply that knowledge to make improvements for the next round.”
The team gets a month off between events, and THR, with the support of HPD, will be fielding an additional Civic Si at Rallycross Round 2, October 1-3 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and at the season finale, November 5-7.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Acura Clinches World Challenge GTS Title

SANTA CLARITA, CA (August 17, 2010) – A pair of victories for RealTime Racing and driver Peter Cunningham at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course were enough to clinch Acura’s ninth Manufacturers’ Championship in Sports Car Club of America World Challenge competition, with three rounds remaining in the 2010 series for production-based racing cars.

The GTS class victories of Cunningham – his fifth and sixth of the season – extended his series-record career total to 38. Cunningham now has a 164-point drivers’ championship lead over teammate Nick Esayian, who finished second in both Mid-Ohio events.

Cunningham led the first race at the classic Mid-Ohio circuit from flag-to-flag on Saturday, but Sunday’s round was a tougher proposition.

“Off the start, the rear drive of the Porsche Cayman got the better of me today,” Cunningham said following Sunday’s race. “I had a couple of [early] opportunities to try to pass, but I wanted to be patient and not rush into it. I knew my Acura would stay under me. Finally, he got a little bit sideways in [Turn] Nine, and I just shoved it in there and made a clean pass.”

Next up for SCCA World Challenge competitors will be another doubleheader weekend, the SCCA Pro Racing Sports Car Wars, Sept. 10-12 at Virginia International Raceway.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Formula Element Drifts into Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV. (Aug 20-21, 2010) – Continuing their inaugural season in Formula-D competition, Honda Performance Development and Team Honda Research contested the fifth round of the 2010 Formula-D series at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the Honda Element-D. http://www.formulad.com/

With over 500HP at the rear wheels, the Element-D is the ultimate tire-shredding SUV and the only Honda in Formula-D competition. The driver, James Robinson, is set to use the abbreviated 2010 Formula-D season as a way to effectively prepare for a full championship attempt in 2011. http://www.hondaresearch.com/element-d/element-d/element-d

The custom built course is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, drifting circuits in the world. With a very high-speed triple entry, drivers were pushed to put their fears behind them and risk it all when entering the first turn. Fans were not disappointed with each grand stand seat having a great view of all the action. To better handle the excessive temperatures of the Nevada desert, all driving was done as the sun went down which added to the difficulty of focusing on the course at night. Arriving at the track late on August 19th, the HPD Element got some crucial practice on the notorious "Diamond in the Desert".

"After several strong practice runs, we headed into qualifying on Friday," stated Robinson, "Unfortunately, we developed a low oil pressure concern which made qualifying very difficult due to the excessively high entry speed and lateral G's." With the next event for the Team Honda Research Element-D scheduled October, there will be some additional improvements made to the chassis to increase toughness against oil starvation. Always upbeat, James stated: "Although the result for Las Vegas was disappointing, we are still very excited about the Formula-D series and are learning a significant amount about the requirements to field a truly competitive vehicle in 2011."
Next up for Formula-D competitors will be the "Point of Impact" round in Sonoma, California (September 10-11th). Look for the Element-D at the penultimate round in the seven event championship, "Title Fight" October 8-9th in Irwindale, California!

Paddock Report 12 – Toronto by the Numbers

-Dan Layton


And now for something completely different…., a little numerology from the Honda Indy Toronto, which turned out to be one of the more, ahem, unusual races in this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series.

1 – Number of races FAZZT Race Team principal Rob Edwards has missed in his entire, 30-plus year career in IndyCar racing. Toronto was the first and only time Edwards has been absent with his car(s) on track, so he REALLY was sick with some sort of virus that left him completely drained of energy. Fortunately, he was back in action the following weekend at Edmonton.

2 – Number of consecutive years that Alex Tagliani and Tomas Scheckter have managed to take each other out at Toronto. Last year, it was Tags tagging Tomas. This time it was “wreckter” wrecking Alex. Are they even now?

3 – The turn where almost all of the contact in a contact-filled race took place.

4 – Number of paint schemes on Tony Kanaan’s Andretti Autosport entry this season, with at least a couple more to come. This week, the featured sponsor was Nestle Pure Life bottled water so the car’s primary color was blue, instead of the usual green/white.

5 – in seconds, Justin Wilson’s lead just before the caution period and ill-fated restart that saw him lose a potential – no – expected race win to Will Power.

6 – The number of tire sets distributed by Firestone to each IndyCar entry, including three sets of primary (“Black” sidewall) tires, and three sets of the quicker, softer “Red” alternate compounds. This is why proper tire management is essential over the course of the race weekend. There are also rain tires (up to five sets per driver) if needed.

7 – Cars eliminated due to various incidents of contact during the race.

8 – The ill-fated turn where Wilson spun after losing the lead to Power. But, special bonus points to Justin for manning-up after the race, raising his hand to admit that both losing the lead and the resulting spin were his fault and apologizing to his Dreyer & Reinbold team.

10 – Number of mechanics it took to repair Scott Dixon’s cars between the first and second practice sessions, after Dixon did substantial gearbox/rear suspension damage as the meat in a three-car crash with Bertrand Baguette and Takuma Sato.

21 – (and climbing) – The number of crashes so far this season by the various KV Racing Technology drivers. That’s an average of just over two shunts per race. Surely. This. Can’t. Continue. Forever. The only KV driver not to have damaged a car this year: Paul Tracy. I kid you not.

32 – The lap on which Helio Castroneves attempted to use Vitor Meira for an auxiliary braking device entering Turn 3, ending his race with a heavy impact and not doing Meira any favors, either. For Helio, it continued a string of DNFs at Toronto; he has finished only once here in his entire career.

150 – Number of open-wheel racing wins (in USAC, CART and IndyCar competition) for Team Penske. Truly, the Greatest Team of All Time.

349,000 – In dollars, the cost of a new 2012 rolling chassis manufactured by Dallara to IndyCar specifications. This is a 45 percent price decrease from what Dallara charges in the current IZOD IndyCar Series formula. “Aero kits” (i.e. bodywork) will be priced at $70,000, and there also will be a $150,000 discount/subsidy from the great state of Indiana on the first 28 chassis purchased by Indiana-based teams. Hmmmm, wonder if Penske, Coyne, Newman Haas and Foyt will be setting up post office boxes in Speedway anytime soon……

Infinity (I need to get the sideways ‘8’ installed on my keyboard) -- Number of angry post-race tweets issued by, between and among Mssrs. Rahal, Briscoe, Scheckter, and Tagliani regarding their various racing “incidents”.

Next up: Edmonton.

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Team Honda Research-West at Buttonwillow

Team Honda Research-West (THR-W) kicked off its bid for NASA’s 2010 HPD Honda Challenge national championship title June 26 and 27, 2010 in Buttonwillow, California. In a series of events that included two sprintraces, a three-hour endurance race and two time trials during a single hotand exhausting weekend, driver Lawrence Hwang earned the five pointsnecessary to qualify THR-W for the NASA National Championships.

Re-commissioning the number 25 Acura Motorsports Acura RSX-S after sittingidle for six months, Hwang was able to learn the car, work out the bugs,and pilot the vehicle to a 2nd place H1 class finish in Saturday’s HPDHonda Challenge race.

A fuel leak prevented an earnest qualifying effort for Saturday evening’sthree-hour Western Endurance Regional Championship (WERC) race, so the 25car was forced to start from the back of the grid. THR-W driver, SageMarie, worked diligently to move through the field, ultimately reachingsecond in class and 6th overall. Hwang took the wheel at the two hourmark, maintaining the team’s position until a low fuel situation with 10minutes left in the race forced him into conservation mode and resulted ina fourth place finish. The single set of BF Goodrich R1 Tires lasted thecomplete 3 hours with much to spare.

The weekend's Time Trial events marked another opportunity for Hwang todevelop the car and earn vital points. With intention to preserve for theendurance race and HC races, two 4th place finishes were achieved in TTRclass.

“We look forward to representing Honda Racing/HPD at the 2010 NASA NationalChampionships, especially since HPD is getting so involved with supportingits customers that race in the HPD Honda Challenge series” Hwang commented.“We know the RSX is very competitive, and we think with a little moredevelopment, our Acura Motorsports RSX-S will be in contention for achampionship.”

THR-W was founded in 1996 and is the officially sanctioned employee roadracing team of Honda R&D Los Angeles - comprised entirely of Hondaassociates who strive to exhibit in themselves and their vehicles thechallenging spirit first demonstrated by company founder Soichiro Honda. Inaddition to more than 20 SCCA class wins, the two car team won the 2007NASA Western Endurance Racing Series Championship “WERC.,” earned eightpodium finishes in the past two WERC Series seasons and finished second inclass at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill three times.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paddock Report 11 – Watkins Glen


-Dan Layton

Last year, the Watkins Glen race generated one of IndyCar’s “feel good” stories of the year, as Justin Wilson shocked the field with a victory for perennial mid-field [and that’s being kind] team Dale Coyne Racing. I called it “the day the minnow ate the sharks”.

But this year, order was restored, and the sharks dined mightily. Scoring his third win of 2010 – no other driver has more than one – Team Penske’s Will Power firmly established himself as the man to beat for the title. Two other Penske/Ganassi drivers, Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti, filled out the podium, leaving the rest to fight over table scraps.

This was the sixth time the IZOD IndyCar Series has run at The Glen, and Scott Dixon has won three of them. But not this year, as Dixon’s just slightly over-eager move on Helio Castroneves in the chicane during the early laps sent both to the pits: resulting in a flat right front and damaged wing for Dixie, and a flat right rear for “twinkletoes”. That ruined the race for both and was probably the only thing preventing a 1-2-3-4-5 for the BTT (Big Two Teams).

This was Will Power’s weekend, and that’s been a bit of a trend this year (see also Ryan Hunter-Reay@Long Beach, Dixon@Kansas, Franchitti@Indy, Briscoe@Texas, etc). Here, Power started from the pole, led over half the laps, and basically looked to be in command pretty much from start to finish.

After nine races this season, we’ve had seven different winners, which is way cool. But only one of them – the Aussie from the little town with the weird name of Toowoomba – has more than a single victory.

So here we are, halfway through the 2010 season and this much is obvious to me: With three wins so far, Power’s my somewhat obvious tip to win it all this year. Not too bad for a guy who was rideless 18 months ago … a part-time driver 12 months ago … and nine months ago, was held together with pins and screws after a back-breaking crash at Infineon.

Other Stuff

In addition to IndyCars, we also had Indy Lights, the SCCA World Challenge (see my blog on another RealTime GTS class win) and a pair of F2000 Championship Series races on the holiday weekend schedule at The Glen.

On the “Light-er” side, “JK” Vernay expanded his championship points lead with a narrow victory (two-tenths of a second) over his closest title challenger, James Hinchcliffe. Two other possible challengers – Charlie Kimball and Stefan Wilson (Justin’s younger brother) – were eliminated early with engine problems.

Besides the battle at the front, where “Hinch” led early, but was eventually chased down and passed by Vernay, the highlight of the day was watching the series debut of Anders Kohn. The F2000/Star Mazda graduate started mid-field and had an entertaining day, dicing with Wilson (before the latter’s DNF), Martin Plowman and James Winslow until a late off-course dropped him back to 10th.

Over the last five laps, Hinchcliffe gave it all he had, usually trying to pass at the “Inner Loop” chicane, but could never quite pull it off. Sebastian Saavedra, winner in Iowa two weeks ago, rounded out the top three finishers.

The F2000 Championship Series is NOT the US F2000 Series that is part of the "Road to Indy" ladder system. But it does have large fields (32+ for two races at The Glen) and some truly talented young drivers at the sharp end of the grid.

This weekend, Aussie Dan Erickson (who - full disclosure here - drives for the Quantum Mechanics team where I have an FF partnership) won both days, just ahead of quick American Chris Livengood. On Sunday, it was 18-year-old Brazilian Victor Carbone who finished second, while another US kid to watch, Cole Morgan, held off Livengood for third. Great races, both days.

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