HPD Blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Season, New Faces, New Winner – Spec:RaceAtom Series Presented by Honda Racing/HPD kicks off the 2012 racing season

The 2012 Spec:RaceAtom Series Presented by Honda Racing/HPD is in full swing, with Race 1 and Race 2 in the books. The season opener was greeted by fantastic weather, great track conditions, and an excited group of racers ready to hit the track.

The Virginia International Raceway South Course was the location for both races. This 1.65-mile course is very well-suited to the quick and nimble SRA racecars, providing some of the closest racing action in series history.

Race 1 took the green flag later in the day, just before 5 p.m., in what proved to be difficult conditions for many drivers, as track grip levels had changed from previous sessions. Ben Sinnott and David Chen quickly locked into a battle for third and fourth positions, while Aaron Elsner and Tyson Bytzek were pushing for the top spot. An error at the mid-point of the race cost Bytzek a shot at the win, as he dropped to fifth in the running order. Bytzek would eventually push himself back into the third position. After 16 laps of caution-free racing, the checkered flag fell with Elsner, Chen, Bytzek, Sinnott, and Christian Shield filling the top five finishing positions.

Race 2 was held under hot, sunny conditions, which provided some heated battles. The green flag fell at 2:12 p.m. with the #09 of Tyson Bytzek jumping to an early lead and Aaron Elsner and David Chen hot on his trail. Lap 3 saw a brief change in position at the front end of the field, as Elsner got a run coming onto the main straight. Bytzek quickly put himself back in the front spot on Lap 4. Great racing took place throughout the field with the 10th, 11th, and 12th-place drivers consistently running lap times within 100ths-of-a-second of each other. Sixteen laps of racing once again went caution-free and provided a first-time winner to the SRA series, with Tyson Bytzek beating Aaron Elsner to the line by 1.034 seconds. The top five finishers for Race 2 were Bytzek, Elsner, Chen, Shield, and Lee Watterworth.

Close racing has become a common theme in the Spec:RaceAtom series; Race 2 saw the fastest lap times of the top three competitors separated by only 0.03 seconds!

Fastest South Course Race Lap: Aaron Elsner 1:13.90 (Race 1)

Race 3 and Race 4 of the Spec:RaceAtom Series Presented by Honda Racing/HPD will be held July 14-15, on the fast and flowing Virginia International Raceway Full Course.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Formula F Active North & South, East & West

Professional Formula F racing has ramped up throughout North America during the past month, with Honda-powered open-wheel racers competing in two Canada series, as well as in California and Connecticut in the U.S. The category continues to expand following the introduction of the Honda L15A7 Formula F engine in 2010.

Formula F at the Canadian Grand Prix

The Quebec-based Formula Tour 1600 made its traditional, featured stop at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the center of Montreal for back-to-back race days in support of the June 8-10 Canadian Grand Prix.
More than 30 Formula F drivers contributed to a pair of event-filled races on the Ile Notre Dame, with defending champion Nathan Blok and former series title-holder Olivier Bonnet splitting the victories. On Saturday, Bonnet took the win in his Vector Ford after Blok was penalized for passing under a yellow flag. Garrett Grist was second in his Bryan Herta Autosport Mygale Honda.
On Sunday, Blok and Bonnet continued their intense duel. But in this race, it was Bonnet who was penalized for on-track misconduct, which resulted in Blok taking the win. Matt Di Leo, making a one-off appearance during a break from his Star Mazda program, finished second.

Significant changes made to the Formula Tour 1600 series for 2012 include the addition of the Honda L15A7 Formula F engine alongside the traditional Kent power plant, and a switch to Toyo R888 tires for all competitors.
The Quebec-based series opened its season in May with the first of three doubleheader race weekends at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, where Blok and Xavier Coupal traded race victories and series rookie Jean-Philippe Jodoin made his Honda-powered Formula F debut with a third-place finish in Saturday’s race.
The Formula Tour 1600 now returns to Mont Tremblant for Rounds 5-6 of the12-race championship on July 7-8. The series website can be found at http://www.siteformulatour1600.com/.

Formula F Super Series at Auto Club Speedway

In California, the Corsa Car Care Presents the Pacific Formula F Super Series held a pair of races at the 2.9-mile Auto Club Speedway road course in Fontana for Rounds 7-8 of the 12-race championship.

Conner Ford and Ed Erlandson had another of their frequent battles for supremacy in Saturday’s race, with Ford’s Honda-powered Mygale edging Erlandson’s Swift-Kent by less than a second in the run to the checkers. Neil Roberts rounded out the top three finishers in his Swift DB-6 Honda.

Sunday’s race featured another slipstreaming run from Turn 4 of the oval track to the finish, with Ethan Shippert taking the victory over Ford, while Erlandson recovered from an early-race spin to round out the top three finishers.

With six victories this season, Ford holds a healthy lead in the drivers’ championship, with 250 points to 149 points for Erlandson. Piper Honda racer Sage Marie is third with 97 points, followed by Roberts with 64 points.

Next up for the Pacific Formula F Super Series is the September 8-9 doubleheader weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway. More information on the series is available at www.pacificF2000.com.

Toyo Tires F1600 Championship at Shannonville

The Toyo Tires F1600 Championship – formerly known as the Ontario Formula Ford Championship – continued its 2012 season May 26-27 at Shannonville Raceway.

As in the Quebec-based Formula Tour 1600, Honda engines and spec Toyo tires are now included in the Toyo F1600 Championship, and the modern, fuel-injected 1.5-liter Honda is permitted to compete alongside the 1.6-liter overhead valve Kent engine. Veteran racers Steve Bamford and Caitlin Johnston are among the first to race the Honda in Canada, Bamford in a new Mygale and Johnston in her trusty Van Diemen chassis.

At Shannonville, Michael Adams extended his championship lead with a perfect two wins from two starts, but neither was a runaway victory. On Saturday, both former series champion Shane Jantzi and Bamford supplied the pressure, while, just a bit further back, Johnston fought with impressive series rookie Jack Mitchell, Jr.

Eventually, Adams pulled out a slight advantage to claim his second win of 2012, followed by Jantzi and Bamford. Mitchell finished fourth, just ahead of Johnston.

On Sunday, Jantzi started from the pole, but Adams battled back and the pair exchanged the lead several times before Adams took the win to complete his clean sweep of the weekend. In a repeat performance from the previous day, Mitchell and Johnston renewed their battle – this time for third place – but once again, it was the rookie Mitchell coming out on top.

After four of eight races, Adams leads the title fight with 388 points to 354 for Jantzi, with Honda-powered racers Bamford and Johnston third and fourth with 294 and 282 points, respectively. The Toyo F1600 championship resumes this weekend, June 22-24, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly Mosport Park). More information can be found at http://www.offcseries.com/.

F1600 Formula F Championship Series Thrills at Lime Rock Park

Back in the eastern U.S., the F1600 Formula F Championship Series conducted its second race weekend of 2012 May 25-26 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

In Race 1, budding Formula F star Matias Koykka started from the pole and never looked back, leading all 30 laps to score his second win of the young season in his Cape Motorsports Spectrum Honda.

It was a textbook perfect race for the 17-year-old Finnish karting graduate, as Koykka led every lap and set the fastest race lap en route to the victory over Brandon Newey’s Mygale Honda, with the Citation Honda of Jeremy Grenier rounding out the top three finishers.

In Saturday’s second race of the weekend, it was Newey on top at the finish for his second victory of 2012. Newey, a 19-year-old Indianapolis native and Purdue University freshman, wheeled a Bryan Herta Autosport Mygale to first place at the checkers.

As in the weekend opener, Newey and Koykka dueled throughout the opening laps in the 20-lap run. But this time, it was Newey’s car that proved stronger in the second half of the race as he eventually pulled away from Koykka, who ultimately dropped to ninth after contact with a lapped car. Grenier finished a career-best second, while Joe Colasacco rounded out the victory podium by virtue of a third-place finish in his Van Diemen Honda.

After four of twelve races, Newey leads the championship with 181 points, followed by Grenier at 139 and Koykka with 137. The series continues with Rounds Five and Six, June 29-July 1 at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Additional information on the F1600 Formula F Championship Series can be found at http://www.f1600series.com/.

Winners Wear Red

It’s a Honda Racing/HPD tradition: the red cam cover that signifies commitment to excellence and performance. Red cam covers have been found on Honda Racing Indy car engines since HPD began Championship Auto Racing Teams competition in 1994.

Today, HPD employs red cam or valve covers on its entire line of racing engines, from pinnacle efforts in the IZOD IndyCar Series and World Endurance Championship to grassroots karting and club racing programs.

As a “thank you” to Honda-powered Formula F racers, complimentary red cam covers have been shipped by Honda Performance Development to drivers and teams running the Honda L15A7 engine in North America. It is HPD’s aim to make the competition “see red” at every opportunity!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Starworks Wins Le Mans LMP2 for HPD

For the second time in three attempts, Honda Performance Development has won the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the American-based Starworks Racing claiming the category victory in its first Le Mans start.

Starworks, which earlier this year won LMP2 at the 12 Hours of Sebring, made it’s 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in the most impressive way possible, with drivers Ryan Dalziel, Tom Kimber-Smith and Enzo Potolicchio piloting their HPD ARX-03b to a seventh overall finish, one lap ahead of the next LMP2 entry.

In 2010, HPD’s first attempt at Le Mans, it was British-based Strakka Racing winning LMP2 in its HPD ARX-01c with a commanding margin of seven laps and LMP2 record fifth overall finish.  This year’s race was far more dramatic, but just as rewarding for HPD.

Starting ninth in LMP2 and 22nd overall after electing to focus on race preparation rather than making an outright qualifying run, the Starworks trio also made a conservative start to the 24-hour endurance racing classic.  But by the six-hour mark, the team had moved into the top-10 overall and third in LMP2.  As night settled over the Circuit de la Sarthe, LMP2 settled into a multi-car battle between the HPD and several Nissan-powered teams

But three hours later, at midnight, the Starworks HPD ARX-03b chassis and HPD HR28TT twin-turbo V6 engine combination was in the LMP2 lead and – although challenged for the remaining 12 hours by several Nissan-powered teams – Starworks was more than capable of defending it’s hard-won advantage, and maintained a steady, if narrow lead for the remaining 12 hours to take the LMP2 victory over TDS Racing.  

For the first time, HPD also fielded a pair of entries in the headline LMP1 class, utilizing the new ARX-03a chassis and normally aspirated HR-LM V8 engine.  Strakka Racing moved up from LMP2 for 2012 and driver Danny Watts qualified the new combination seventh overall on Thursday, fastest of the “privateer” teams doing battle with the full manufacturer-supported teams from Audi and Toyota.  Another British team, JRM Motorsports, started 11th in their ARX-03a.

JRM had a steady run in their first Le Mans attempt, after winning the FIA GT1 World Championship in 2011.  The driving trio of David Brabham, Karun Chandhok and Peter Dumbreck moved into the top-10 in the opening hours, and seventh overall at the 16-hour mark.  Other than a few minor delays, JRM pressed on for an excellent sixth-place finish, behind only the four “works” entries from the winning Audi effort and the first of two Rebellion entries.

Meanwhile, for Strakka, it was a drama-filled 24 hours.  A transmission oil leak discovered shortly before the race start left drivers Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Watts still in their garage area as the green flag waved, with Kane finally starting 22 minutes later, six laps down on the leaders.  The team rapidly went to work making up that deficit, climbing through the GT field, making up 35 positions in the first six hours. 

At the 18-hour mark, Strakka was up to 10th overall, behind JRM and the Lolas of Rebellion Racing in the battle for independent team honors.  But overheating issues slowed Strakka’s pace in the final hours, and the team settled for an eighth-place finish in LMP1.

HPD’s second LMP2 entry, the Level 5 Motorsports HPD effort of Christophe Bouchut, Luis Diaz and Scott Tucker, suffered early disappointment in its effort to build on a third-place class finish in 2011.  Communication problems during the night led to the car missing its scheduled pit stop, and running out of fuel midway around the eight-mile circuit. Unable to make it back to pit lane, the ARX-03b was retired.

Steve Eriksen (Vice President, Honda Performance Development) on this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans:  “What an incredible day.  I believe Starworks has confirmed their status as a world-class racing team, their effort both here at Le Mans and earlier this year at Sebring is a real testament to [team owner] Peter Baron’s dedication and ability; as well as the skill and hard work from everyone in Starworks organization.  We are proud to have them as a partner.  All four of our teams put in an outstanding effort this year, with Strakka’s exciting early-race charge and the consistent race-long performance from JRM Racing just two of the highlights.  Level 5 also again produced a very competitive effort prior to their unfortunate problem.  Congratulations to all of our teams for their efforts, and to everyone at HPD and our technical partner Wirth Research on our second LMP2 victory in just three starts.  We’re already looking forward to defending our win here next year!”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HART Wins on “Home Ground”

A textbook-perfect weekend for the Honda of America Racing Team (HART) resulted in the first victory of 2012 for the team of Honda engineers – with a little “outside” assistance from professional racer Michael Valiante – at last weekend’s Mid-Ohio round of the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Honda associate Chad Gilsinger qualified HART’s Honda Civic Si on the pole in the Street Tuning class, then teamed with Valiante to prevail in a race-long battle with both the Kinetic/Kia Racing entry of Matt and Mark Pombo and the Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si of Adam Burrows and Andrew Novich.

At the end of two-and-a-half hours of racing around the challenging 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio circuit, Valiante claimed the win by just four-tenths of a second over the Pombos, with Burrows just another tick of the watch back to round out the podium and give Honda a 1-3 finish at the “home” race for both HART and Honda of America Manufacturing.

“It couldn’t happen at a better place,” said Gilsinger. “This is our home track – Mid-Ohio – and we worked really hard to make sure we would get a good result here. I have to admit I don’t think we were planning on the top step (of the podium), but we were hoping for at least a top-five [result], and it couldn’t get any better than this.”

With 37 ST entries in the 62-car starting field, the action was frenetic from start to finish. Jonathan Bomarito took advantage of some car-to-car contact at the start to lead the early laps in his C.J. Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 before Gilsinger regained the lead shortly prior to the single round of scheduled pit stops.

Valiante resumed with the HART Civic Si in third place, but regained the lead on Lap 52 and held off the challenges from both the Honda-mounted Compass360 duo and the Kia Forte of the Pombos for the class victory.

“I really have to give it to these guys,” said Valiante. “It’s not a full-time effort, they’re all volunteers and they’ve been putting in so much personal time. In just a couple of races, we’ve gone from mid-pack to a front-running car, so being [at] the home race here, I’m so happy for myself and the whole team.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Race a Honda: Mike Porter

My name is Mike Porter, and I race a Honda-powered off-road buggy. I recently won the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series championship in the Pro Buggy Unlimited class.

The Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series is a series for short-course off-road racing. It’s kind of like motocross, only with trucks and buggies instead of motorcycles. Unlike desert off-road racing, where you’re racing more against the elements and the clock, this is almost like a combat sport. It’s door to door, wheel to wheel, and intimidation is a big factor. It’s very aggressive, and for 20 minutes you’re giving it all you’ve got – there’s no pacing yourself.

I love the door-to-door racing aspect of it. The equipment can handle it, unlike desert racing, where you’ve got to pace yourself and save your equipment.

The class I race in is called Unlimited Buggy, but there are limitations. We’re allowed to run a 1650cc, water-cooled engine, with no variable cam timing and a carburetor with 28mm restrictors. Internally in the motor, you can bump the compression, do head work, change valves and cams … all of that is open. The result is a very high-strung engine that we’re pushing to the limit. We’re running at 9,200 rpm.

In our case, the engine is based on a Honda B16A. We have to build aftermarket camshafts that don’t have the VTEC lobes. We sleeve the block, and run 13:1 compression.

When I say “we,” I really mean “we.” I own Redline Performance in Anaheim, Calif. We build engines for off-road racing and recreation. That’s why I chose the Honda. It’s superior to some of the other choices. We’ve been building Honda motors for 18 years, and we know them like the back of our hand. We feel that we have an advantage over everyone else. The engine makes good power, and since the chassis in which it sits weighs fewer than 2,000 lbs., it’s a quick package.

I run an Alumicraft chassis. It has to have a minimum weight of 1,820 lbs. or 1,850 lbs., depending on engine configuration, but most are over that. The suspension is unlimited, and we’ve got 18 inches of wheel travel all around to absorb the bumps and jump landings. They handle amazingly – you can fling them sideways, or sprint-car them into the corner. They accelerate very fast because the power-to-weight ratio is very good.

One unique thing we have is a turning brake. Because the engine is in the rear, we don’t have a lot of weight on the nose, so sometimes under power, the front end gets light. The turning brake – operated by a handle in the cockpit – helps whip the car in whichever direction you want it to go. Especially when you drive on the inside of somebody, you can use the turning brake to make a pass. Our rear end is not a spool, so we can lock one tire or the other.

I used all of it to good effect this year, winning the championship. It’s an incredible feeling. Winning races is good, but the main goal is winning championships. Championships don’t come easily, and we were there just about every weekend. It’ll be even better if we can back it up next year. Not many guys have done it back-to-back.

Look for Mike Porter and other Honda-powered buggies in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. You can also catch the series on SPEED, NBC Sports Network and MavTV.

If you’re a racer in a Honda or with Honda power, don’t forget to register for the Honda Racing Line program at http://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 1, 2012

Conner Ford Dominates in Formula F at Buttonwillow Raceway

Formula Ford, Pacific Formula F, Formula F, F1600Conner Ford continued his mastery of the 2012 Corsa Car Care presents Pacific Formula F Super Series with another pair of race wins May 19-20 at Buttonwillow Raceway in California, his fourth and fifth victories in six starts this season.

Ford and his PR1 Honda Mygale were untouchable at Buttonwillow, qualifying on the pole for both races, and leading series debutant Al Savo home for a PR1 Racing 1-2 result in both races.

Honda Formula F, Formula Ford, F1600In Saturday’s opener, Ford led convincingly from green to checker, despite 100-degree weather. The fight for second was the highlight of the race, with Savo battling the Porter Racing Swift Ford of Ed Erlandson until a wheel-banging pass in the closing laps settled the fight in Savo’s favor. Erlandson held on to finish third, followed by defending series champion Jerry Anderson in a Swift Ford and the Piper Honda of Sage Marie.

Ford repeated his wire-to-wire run on Sunday for his second Formula F victory of the weekend, while the best battle was once again the fight for second. This time, it was an all-Honda affair, as Marie and series newcomer Neil Roberts battled Savo. The three traded places frequently for 12 of the scheduled 16 laps before Savo edged out a six-tenths of a second advantage at the finish, followed by Roberts and Marie.

The six-car Formula F field at Buttonwillow was the largest of the season, including four Honda-powered cars and two entries using the Ford Kent engine. Ford now holds a commanding 193 – 96 lead in the points championship over Erlandson. Marie rounds out the top three in the championship with 61 points.

Buttonwillow, Podium, Formula Ford, F1600, Formula F

Next up for the Corsa Car Care presents Pacific Formula F Super Series is the June 9-10 doubleheader weekend at Auto Club Speedway near Los Angeles. More information on this exciting series is available at www.pacificF2000.com.

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