HPD Blog

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.


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.

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