HPD Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Team Honda Research - West Drivers Put Honda Racing/HPD B-Spec Fit On the Podium in NASA Endurance Race

THR-W drivers Sage Marie and Sam Poznanovich piloted their Honda Racing/HPD B-Spec Fit to a third place finish on June 25, 2011 at the NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC) race in Buttonwillow, California.

Designed to compete in a spec series comprised of similar B-segment vehicles from various manufacturers, the Honda Racing/HPD B-spec Fit was an underdog in a field of higher performance E3 class BMWs and Miatas. However, the Fit’s fuel efficiency meant that it only had to stop once for nine gallons of fuel and a driver change. This combined with a perfectly executed pit-stop by team members Matthew Staal and Max Kiert enabled the team to gain track position. Additionally, the BFGoodrich tires remained fast and consistent throughout the entire race without the need for a tire change.

“The Honda Fit makes a fantastic entry-level racecar that rewards precision and smoothness with faster and faster lap times,” commented Marie. “It is well balanced, forgiving, and immensely fun to drive. Amazingly, all that this endurance event cost us was the entry fee, and 18 gallons of gas. I can’t think of a better way to go racing on a budget.”

Starting at 6:15 p.m. in 98 degree heat and finishing in total darkness three hours later, the event was demanding on cars and drivers alike. Poznanovich started the race near the back of the grid but quickly found his rhythm. When he pitted nearly half way through the race, the team did not know what position they were in, so the only strategy was to perform an error-free pit stop and for Marie to post lap times that were as fast and consistent as possible. Without access to timing and scoring equipment, the results of their efforts were not realized until the podium ceremony.

“Many thanks to Honda Performance Development for developing this great racing package for the Honda Fit and for allowing our team the opportunity to be here and a part of it,” said Poznanovich. “Also, many thanks to BFGoodrich for supplying us with such fast, consistent tires.”


Monday, June 20, 2011

A Successful Memorial Day Weekend for Team Honda Research

May 27-29, 2011

Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest weekends for racing the world over, and for THR drivers Jeremy Lucas and Luke Wilwert, it was certainly no exception. The long weekend meant an opportunity to earn valuable championship points at an SCCA Double National race at Grattan Raceway in Belding, MI.

Jeremy continued his campaign to qualify for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Honda S2000 CR in the Touring3 (T3) class. Grattan Raceway is one of Jeremy’s favorite tracks, and it showed in the results, with Jeremy out-qualifying both the other T3 cars and the T2 cars for both races.

However, qualifying is one thing, but the race is whole different animal, and with all the higher-torque cars starting behind Jeremy, he quickly found himself in seventh position heading into Turn 1 after the green flag dropped for Race 1, with Richard Fisher in the T3 VW GTI having taken the early lead. A few laps in, Jeremy was able to get back by Fisher, and he maintained that advantage to the end of the race for the win and a third-place finish overall. The fact that Grattan had recently completed a repaving project also allowed Jeremy to set a new class lap record with a time of 1 minute, 28.258 seconds during the race.

Race 2 brought new T3 challengers in the persons of John Heinricy and Chris Puskar, who arrived for the second half of the weekend after competing at the Lime Rock Grand-Am race a day earlier. It was a similar story for Race 2. Starting on the overall pole, Jeremy was in sixth place going into Turn 1, as the higher-torque cars motored by his S2000. Later in Lap 1, contact between Fisher and Heinricy allowed Jeremy to take the lead.

Halfway through the race, Puskar caught up to Jeremy as he was being held up a by a slower but higher-horsepower T2 car. Luckily, the T2 driver realized this and let both Jeremy and Chris past, but there was no longer any gap between them. After many laps of nose-to-tail and side-by-side action, Jeremy took the checkers just in front Chris for the victory in Race 2.

Luke Wilwert made his SCCA National racing debut, driving the Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si in the Showroom Stock B (SSB) class. Luke had his work cut out for him in the form of stiff competition from a Ford Mustang, not to mention needing to quickly come to grips with Grattan Raceway, as he had never been there before.

Luke’s lack of experience going around Grattan’s tricky 12-turn layout meant he would start Saturday’s race behind the Mustang. A poor start left Luke mired in traffic for the first few laps, which allowed the Mustang to build a substantial lead. Over the next 15 laps, Luke slowly clawed back until he was right on the Mustang’s bumper.
The last few laps would see a fierce battle for the class win, which unfortunately finished with the Mustang just a few tenths of a second ahead of Luke’s Civic Si.

After the race, Luke said, “I probably should have pushed the issue a little harder with the Mustang. I was side-by-side with him a couple times going into Turn Two, but I didn’t want to risk damaging the car. If the race were just a lap or two longer, I think I would have had him easily. The BFGoodrich R1 tires had plenty of grip left in them at the end of the race, and I think the Mustang ran his tires off. I’m sure I could have gotten around him.”

After his exciting battle with the Mustang, Luke was more familiar with the track layout, which meant he was able to qualify much better for Monday’s race. Luke put in a qualifying lap just three-thousandths of a second slower than the track record, putting him well up the grid from the Mustang. Fast, consistent lap times meant Monday’s race went much smoother for Luke, as he was able to capture the class win by more than 37 seconds.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spec: RaceAtom Presented By Honda Racing/HPD Inaugural Race Weekend Is a Huge Success

Spec: RaceAtom Presented by Honda Racing/HPD is officially in full swing with the completion of the inaugural race weekend. As the checkered flag dropped on Sunday afternoon, June 12, it concluded a race weekend that saw two action-packed races with very close competition.

Thirteen identically prepared Honda K20 powered Spec Race Atoms were on hand for the weekend of racing on the challenging South Course at Virginia International Raceway. The twists and turns of this exciting racetrack were not the only elements the drivers had to contend with, as heat was also a factor, with temperatures in the mid-90s.
Saturday provided three practice sessions, a qualifying session, and a 20-minute sprint race. Aaron Elsner and Ben Sinnott traded fastest laps throughout the practice sessions.

Qualifying was no different, as Elsner and Sinnott battled for the top spot, with Elsner eventually grabbing the pole position by a mere .081 seconds.

The race proved to be equally exciting, with Sinnott and Elsner pressing hard from the drop of the green flag. Racing was tight throughout the field with a great battle for fourth position between Jim Lewis and Rob Veschi. After 17 laps of racing, Elsner took the victory with Sinnott, Tyson Bytzek, Veschi, and Lewis rounding out the top five finishers. All 13 cars completed the race.

Sunday brought a new race day, and a repeat of the practice, qualifying, and race sessions. The drivers once again faced hot temperatures as they suited up for the day’s event. The temperatures did not slow the drivers down, however, as lap times dropped with every session.

Close lap times once again made for an exciting qualifying session. Aaron Elsner captured his second pole position of the season while an intense battle was going on for the second and third grid positions. Tyson Bytzek edged Ben Sinnott for the second starting position by a mere .001 seconds!

Sunday’s race began under the threat of rain, with drops beginning to fall as the Honda Civic Si Pace Car led the 13-car field out of pit lane. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the track stayed dry for the duration of the race. Early race excitement occurred as the #90 of Sinnott locked a wheel going into Turn 4, resulting in a brief off-track excursion. Sinnott would rejoin at the tail of the field and drove a hard race to 4th finishing position. In the process, Sinnott also set the fastest race lap.

At the front of the field, meanwhile, Elsner and Bytzek engaged in a great battle, with Bytzek pushing Elsner hard right to the finish. At the finish, it was Aaron Elsner grabbing his second victory of the season, with Bytzek in the runner-up spot. Jim Taggart drove a smart and consistent race to come home on the podium in third. Sinnott and Jim Lewis rounded out the top five finishers. As was the case on Saturday, all of the 13 starters took the checkered flag!

With the first two races in the record books, the competitors look forward to the next event, which will be held July 16-17 on the Full Course at Virginia International Raceway. The size of the field is expected to grow to 18 cars for these races.

For more information on the series please contact:

Mark Swain - TMI AutoTech, Inc.
434.822.9130 x303

Monday, June 13, 2011


My name’s Lawson Aschenbach and I’m in my second year of racing a Civic with Compass360 Racing – in my second series with the team. Last year, I partnered with David Thilenius to win the Street Tuner class drivers’, team and manufacturers’ championships in Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series. For 2011, I’ve switched to SCCA Pro Racing’s Pirelli World Challenge Championships. I won a championship in this series in 2006 in the GT class, but now I’m in the Touring Car class.

We were fortunate that success was immediate in our new endeavor. At the season opener, a street race in St. Petersburg, Fla., we won the first time out. I suppose I should be surprised, but I’m not. It all comes down to the car, the team, the driver and the tires. Everything is an important piece of the puzzle, and I knew coming in that we had a good package. We expected to compete for wins, and we proved it right out of the box. Fortunately for us, that first weekend there were a lot of new teams, new cars and new drivers and often, it takes them some time to gel and get their packages together. We knew we had a chance to pounce on everybody right away and come out with two good finishes. But even though we had success there, we knew people were going to catch up; we knew people were going to be pushing hard, as we were, and we knew it was going to be a fight.

We had an edge in that our Pirelli World Challenge Civics, built by Honda Performance Development, are very similar to the cars that we ran in the Continental Tires series. Last year we ran a four-door, this year it’s two; I was surprised at how similar they were – there wasn’t a huge difference as far as I could tell. I think the biggest difference is the tires. You’re coming from a street-based tire in the Continental Tire series to a full-blown racing slick in World Challenge; that was the biggest variable. It was just a matter of fine-tuning and tweaking a little bit for World Challenge competition.

It didn’t take long to figure out and we’ve got a great Technical Director with Ray Lee at Compass360. He knows these cars so well and can really sort things out. It’s one example of how great things start at the top. Team owner Karl Thompson has given me a terrific opportunity, for which I am very grateful, and between him, Lee, and World Challenge Program Director Enrico Diano, the people steering this thing are building a top-notch team.

With the Grand-Am Series being an endurance racing series and World Challenge being a sprint racing series, in which the races are typically 50 minutes long and there are no (planned) pit stops, there are some slight differences in driving. It comes down to a little bit of aggressiveness. I have to push my limits a little bit more. I have to push braking points, push the mid-corner speeds. Your whole game has to be stepped up just a little bit. The racing is the same, but you have to push yourself a little bit harder and push the overall package a little bit more.

It worked out for us at St. Petersburg. In Long Beach, I got caught up in someone else’s accident after qualifying on the pole. And at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, we were a bit surprised at how far some of the other teams have come along. Winning races right now is very important. It’s too early in the season to focus on the championship, although after four races we are leading the points and I think it is certainly within reach. If we win races now, we can hopefully build a points lead for the end of the season. Last year, we had a couple of bad races toward the end, some unfortunate things that had nothing to do with the team or the cars, that took us from a huge lead to a pretty big deficit. I have to try to stay clean, stay on the track and try to finish every race at the front, or as close to the front as I can.

That shouldn’t be difficult with this setup. The Civic, as it comes from the factory, handles great. It’s quick enough and it’s got everything you need to win in racing. Honda knows the type of car that can perform on the street and on the track. That type of knowledge, that awareness while they’re engineering these cars can create a machine that works for both. The relationship with Honda Performance Development helps tremendously. They know these cars and, with minor tweaks, we know these cars can win any given weekend on any given track, As a driver, you want to drive a car that has the full package, and that’s what Honda brings to the table.

I’m looking forward to showing more of what the Civic, Compass360 Racing and I – with the help of great sponsors like OMP, Piloti Shoes, Hartmann Luggage and Corsa Car Care – can do as the Pirelli World Challenge Championships season progresses.

Look for Lawson Aschenbach, Compass360 Racing and the rest of the Pirelli World Challenge competitors at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 5-7, followed by Infineon Raceway near Sonoma, Calif., later in the month. Or catch the series on Versus.

And if you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda Power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at www.hondaracingline.com.

Honda Racing Line is proud to offer original equipment replacement parts, performance parts and crate engines to Honda and Acura grassroots racers in the entry-level through professional ranks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

HPD’s New V-6 Ready for Le Mans

In 2010, Honda Performance Development took on – and succeeded at – one of the toughest challenges in motorsports: The 24 Hours of Le Mans. Working with three teams in the LMP2 category, HPD-powered entries won the class pole and finished first and third in the company’s first attempt at the endurance racing classic.

HPD is attempting to repeat that first-year triumph in 2011, but, in order to make the attempt, had to develop a new, production-based engine to meet new rules adopted this year for the LMP2 category.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), rule-making body for sports-prototype competition, now requires production-based engines for LMP2, to be sold or leased under a series-mandated price cap. That led to development of the HR28TT, a 2.8-liter, twin-turbo V-6, based on Honda’s global V-6 production car engine, and utilizing HPD’s exclusive engine-control system.

The HPD engine will power three LMP2 teams at Le Mans: defending class winner Strakka Racing; Le Mans Series class champion RML Motorsport; and American-based Level 5 Motorsports, a team which is taking on Le Mans for the first time.

Last year, Strakka drivers Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis and their HPD ARX-01c completed 367 laps of the eight-mile Circuit de la Sarthe, establishing a new record for laps completed by an LMP2 competitor at Le Mans. Their fifth-place overall finish also established a new LMP2 record, besting the previous mark set in 2006.

Meanwhile, the HPD-powered RML Lola B08/80 HPD of Thomas Erdos, Mike Newton and Andy Wallace came home third, in a nearly equally trouble-free run. Both Strakka and RML return this year, now equipped with the latest-specification HPD ARX-01d open-cockpit chassis.

They will be joined by Le Mans newcomer Level 5, with the Wisconsin-based team running an ambitious program including both the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the American Le Mans Series championship in a pair of HPD-powered Lola Coupes – one in each series.

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.

HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series and the 2010 Le Mans Series, in addition to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. HPD also administers The Honda Racing Line to provide racing enthusiasts and professionals with dependable racing products and support from entry-level to pinnacle forms of motorsports.

2011 HPD LMP2 Engine Specs
• Configuration: Twin-turbocharged V-6, 60-degree cylinder banking
• Displacement: 2.8 liters
• Air Intake: Two, 29.3 mm restrictors
(or two 30.0 mm restrictors for cost capped cars)
• Power: 450 bhp [335 kw]
• Rev Range: 6,200 rpm [over-rev limit 7,600 rpm]
• Service Life: 3,500 miles [30 hours]

HPD’s LMP2 Teams at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

• Level 5 Motorsports, United States
HPD Lola B11/80 coupe Michelin Tires
Drivers: Joao Barbosa, Christophe Bouchut, Scott Tucker

• RML Motorsport, England
HPD ARX-01d spyder Dunlop Tires
Drivers: Ben Collins, Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton

• Strakka Racing, England
HPD ARX-01d spyder Michelin Tires
Drivers: Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis, Danny Watts


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pacific Formula F Super Series Debuts

Close racing, with multiple lead changes, is a hallmark of Formula F racing, and the debut of the new Pacific Formula F Super Series at Buttonwillow Raceway in southern California was no exception.

Jeff Sakowicz won both rounds of the new professional racing division, part of the West Coast-based Pacific F2000 Championship, but he had a fight on his hands all the way.

In the opener, veteran Formula F competitor Ed Erlandson qualified on the pole in his Swift DB-1, with Sakowicz second in his Van Diemen. The pair swapped the lead multiple times in the 13-lap race before Sakowicz went down in the record books as the inaugural Formula F Super Series race winner.

For the second round, Erlandson again claimed the pole, by just three-tenths of a second over Sakowicz. The two appeared ready to repeat their Saturday contest, but this time, Erlandson dropped back in the final laps, albeit after setting the fastest race lap, to finish third behind Sakowicz and the Swift DB-1 of Paul Wittrock.

“I have long been a proponent of Formula F, having started my own racing life in a Crossle 32F,” noted Pacific F2000 Series principal Les Phillips, who also serves as General Manager of Buttonwillow Raceway. “We hope to contribute in a small way toward rebuilding the class here on the West Coast.”

The Formula F Super Series runs as a separate class at four of the six Pacific F2000 race weekends, totaling a championship run of eight races. The fields will feature both the new Honda and traditional Kent powerplants.

More information on the Pacific Formula F Super Series Formula F is available on the web at www.pacificF2000.com; or by calling series coordinator Les Phillips at 661-764-5333.


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