HPD Blog

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rally Fit Champ

Houghton, MI. (October 18-19th, 2013) – HPD and THR head to 2013 Lake Superior Pro Rally with B-Spec Honda Fit

Team Honda Research partnered with Honda Performance Development to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Lake Superior Pro Rally (LSPR), the seventh and final round of the Rally America National Championship. 
 Moving into the final National Championship round, the B-Spec Fit was already assured of the Manufacturers’ Championship, based on its strong finishes through Round Six.  With the B-Spec drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships also locked up over the second-place Toyota team, LSPR would promise to be an exciting, albeit somewhat relaxing, event to finish the 2013 season.
“We wanted to come to LSPR to finish the season strong, and also extend a chance to have the President of Rally America co-drive for us,” said Honda B-Spec Rally driver James Robinson at the beginning of the two-day event. “It’s important for everyone to experience Rallying, and we couldn’t have had a better championship situation to allow us to bring in a guest co-driver.”
With nine stages to contest on Day One, the Fit set off with the new team of James Robinson and Bill Fogg Sr.  “Our goal for this event is to give Bill a chance to see Rallying from a new perspective, and to also have a great time!” James said.  The full THR crew came to support the last-round effort, so there was plenty of support to keep the B-Spec Fit running strong.
By Stage 4, The Fit was running clean, with no issues.  “Bill is really picking up the notes quickly and I’m gaining more confidence to push the pace a bit!” stated James at the first major service of the day.  “At this rate, we might be able to give the B-Spec Toyota Yaris a good fight this weekend.  I’d love to help Bill finish his first race, and get him his first win, as well.”
By the end of Day 1, the new team of James and Bill had worked up a five-minute gap over the B-Spec Toyota and had finished the day with no road points or mechanical issues with the car.  “This is really an incredible result for someone who has never co-driven before,” said James at the finish of the first day.  “Not only has Bill gotten better on each stage, but we’re now building up a good lead over the Toyota.”
Starting Day 2, the B-Spec Fit cleaned up and readied for the last eight stages of LSPR.  Having had no issues a day earlier, the team elected to make no changes to its setup.  “We really have no issues to address and our main focus is to keep our lead in B-Spec and stay on the road,” James said at Parc Expose.  “The course was pretty slippery yesterday; we’re hopeful that the sun stays out and we get a few dry stages.”
Despite a wild weather mix of sun, rain, and sleet, the B-Spec Fit continued to gain speed and confidence.  “I think we’re both having a great time today, and it’s a good opportunity for us to yet again showcase the reliability and adaptability of the Honda Fit,” Robinson said at the second service of the day.
By the final stage, the B-Spec Fit had built up a solid 10-minute lead over the second place B-Spec Toyota.  “Bill has helped us to keep our pace up over the last eight stages, and this puts us in a great place for wrapping up the 2013 season,”  Robinson noted.
At the end of the LSPR event, the Fit had finished first in B-Spec, sixth in 2WD, and 15th overall.  “We couldn’t have asked for a better finish to the event, or to the season,” said an elated James at the finish.  “With the strong result today, we were not only able to win the B-Spec Manufacturers’ Championship, but also the Drivers/Co-Drivers Championship, and finish fourth overall in the two-wheel-drive category!”
Look for the THR B-Spec Fit to defend its title next year in the 2014 Rally America B-Spec Championship
About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com

Touring Car Wrap-up

Honda Claims Pirelli World Challenge Title As Touring Car Seasons Conclude

The Compass360 duo of Ryan Winchester and Brett Sandberg recorded the ninth and tenth victories of the season for the Honda Civic Si at the season-ending Grand Prix of Houston earlier this month, as Honda dominated the Touring Class Manufacturers’ Championship in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge.

In all, Honda drivers won 10 of 14 races in 2013, with only Michael Cooper’s mid-season string of four consecutive wins in his Mazda3 interrupting the Honda march to the manufacturers’ crown.

Winchester successfully bookended his season to take the drivers’ championship, winning the final round at the Houston temporary street circuit to go along with victory at the season-opening round at Circuit of the Americas in Austin.  Four more victories – for a total of six – and regular podium finishes in all but one round of the 14-race championship secured the title for Winchester.

“Consistency really paid off this year,” Winchester said.  “I wasn’t fastest a lot of times, my teammate Brett Sandberg was, but consistency is what paid off.  I drove smart all year, and tried to stay out of trouble.  I think I only had major contact maybe twice all year, that that really makes a difference for a championship.”

For his part, Sandberg scored four victories and four additional podium finishes, but a “no score” in the second Toronto race and a crash in the Houston finale left him second in the championship. 

Capping an excellent Pirelli season for Compass360, rookie Remo Ruscitti finished on the podium no less than seven times to finish third in the driver’s championship as the top rookie in the series.

In the companion Touring Class-B category, veteran Joel Lipperini won rounds at Lime Rock Park and the Honda Indy Toronto to finish second in the TCB drivers’ championship in his Honda B-Spec Fit, just 30 points behind class champion Robbie Davis.

RealTime Racing Closes Out GTS Season With a Podium Finish

The Acura TSX-equipped RealTime Racing closed out their 2013 Pirelli World Challenge Season on a high note, with a second-place GTS class finish for team owner/driver Peter Cunningham at Houston.

Early morning rain showers meant the combined GT/GTS race started on a fully wet circuit.  The damp conditions proved an advantage for the front-wheel drive Acura, as Cunningham fought his way through the field, ending up in a multi-lap battle with the Porsche Cayman of Jack Baldwin.  Once past Baldwin with just a handful of laps remaining, Cunningham attempted to chase down the Camaro of leader Lawson Aschenbach, but the checkers waved with Cunningham second, and teammate Nick Esayian ninth.

Continental Tire Championship Goes Down To Final Laps

Across the country, the Grand-AM’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge came to an exciting conclusion at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

Unlike the otherwise similar Pirelli series, which are sprint races of less than an hour, the Continental Tire championship is made up of endurance contests featuring multiple drivers and scheduled pit stops.  In the Street Tuner category, the Compass360 duo of Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple headed to Lime Rock with their Honda Civic Si locked into a tight championship battle with no less than five other BMW and Mazda-mounted teams.

But at the end of two hours and thirty minutes of hard-fought competition around the short, but quick, Lime Rock circuit, a fifth-place finish for the Burton Racing duo of Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra was just enough to edge Eversley and Gimple, who finished sixth, for the championship by the narrow margin of just nine points.

Still, it was an encouraging Continental Tire season for Honda, highlighted by three teams sharing the victory podium at The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June, led by the RSR Motorsports Honda Civic Si of Tom Dyer and Andrew Novich.  Local favorite HART – made up of associates from Honda of America Manufacturing – finished second with drivers Chad Gilsinger and Michael Valiante; with Gimple and Eversley third. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Formula F Blog - October 2013 Recap

Herta Wins Pacific Formula F Championship
Second-generation racer Colton Herta swept the season finale triple-header race weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to claim the Pacific Formula F1600 Championship in his first season of Formula F racing.
Herta, the 13-year-old son of former Honda-powered IndyCar and ALMS driver Bryan Herta followed up a stellar karting career by scoring 10 victories in his Honda-powered PR1 Motorsports Mygale Formula F to claim the title over season-long rival and teammate Joey Bickers.
Bickers won four races in the 15-round championship, and consistent podium finishes kept him in the championship hunt going into the final weekend of the season.  Between them, Herta and Bickers won all but one round in 2013, with only veteran David Cheng’s win at Thunderhill’s round two interrupting their victory march.
At the Las Vegas road course finale, Bickers took the pole for the first race, but fell behind Herta at the start and eventually had to battle the Lynx Racing Spectrum Honda of Alex Keyes to hang on to second at the finish, with Keyes third.  Colton won from the pole in race two, clinching the title when Bickers slid off course on the opening lap.  Bickers eventually recovered to finish third behind Keyes, who scored his best result of the season.
In the third and final race of the weekend, Herta again started from the pole, but faced a strong challenge from Bickers as the pair exchanged the lead until Herta took command mid-race, with Bickers finishing second and Andrew Evans rounding out the podium in his Lynx Racing Spectrum Honda.  More information on the Pacific F1600 Championship series is available at www.pacificF2000.com.
Formula F Webcast Episode 3 Premiers
Produced by Mathisen Media with the support of Honda Performance Development, the latest episode in a series of four webcasts dedicated to Formula F competition has debuted at http://youtu.be/4rj3TstiEVI.
The video series provides Formula F race highlights, coupled with testamonials from Honda-powered IndyCar drivers touting the virtues of Formula F competition and the lessons learned from Formula F racing earlier in their careers.
The first “F1600 In Focus” webcast featured race in-car footage from the F1600 Formula F Championship Series weekends at Mid-Ohio and Summitt Point, including current IndyCar driver Tristan Vautier’s one-off return to Formula F competition at Mid-Ohio.
Honda IndyCar (and former Formula F) drivers making appearances in the video series include Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden.
Team USA Prepares for Formula F Festivals
A pair of young American Honda-powered Formula F drivers headed to England for the famed season-ending Formula F “Festival” events at Brands Hatch and Silverstone as part of the annual Team USA Scholarship program.
Joey Bickers, a 21-year-old Californian and championship runner-up in the Pacific Formula F1600 Championship; and Jake Eidson, 18, winner of the 2013 eastern US Formula F title, represented the USA and took  
part in both the annual FF Festival at the famed Brands Hatch circuit October 26-27, and the Walter Hayes Trophy race weekend at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, November 2-4.
As the newest members of Team USA Scholarship, Bickers and Eidson follow in the footsteps of previous scholarship winners [and eventual Honda-powered IndyCar drivers] Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Charlie Kimball, JR Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden.
The Team USA Scholarship program has been boosting the careers of young (ages 16-22) American racers since 1990.  Honda Performance Development has been a proud sponsor of this effort since the institution of the Honda Racing Line program in 2010.  More information on Team USA can be found at the organization’s website, www.TeamUSAScholarship.org, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
Kautz Defends Formula F Title at SCCA Runoffs
Tim Kautz, the first Honda-powered Formula F National Champion with his victory in the 2012 SCCA Runoffs, successfully defended his title in his Piper Honda last month at Road America, after a race-long battle with the Van Diemen Ford of Reid Hazelton.
Drivers from across North America qualify for the Runoffs with their race finishes in SCCA National competition throughout the season, but the title “national champion” can only be earned by winning the final race of the season, which this year is celebrated its 50th anniversary at the historic Road America circuit in central Wisconsin.
More than 700 SCCA club racers – including a record total of 63 Honda and Acura drivers took part in this year’s runoffs, one of the largest fields on record.  Included in that number were 12 Formula F racers utilizing the Honda L15A7 engine, also a record for Honda participation in the revitalized category and making up exactly half of the 24-driver entry in this popular category.
Kautz and Hazelton traded the lead repeatedly throughout the 13-lap contest, including at four times on the final lap.  In the run to the checkers, Kautz edged to the front, when it counted the most, to claim the title by just a tenth of a second over his rival.  Jeff Bartz made it a 1-3 result for Honda-powered drivers as the manufacturer claimed six of the top-10 finishing positions.
Additional information on the SCCA National Championship Runoffs can be found at www.scca.com. 

RSR at Lime Rock

My name is Corey Fergus. I race the #197 Honda Civic Si for RSR Motorsports in Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge ST class with co-driver Owen Trinkler.

Our 11th and final race of the season took place in Salisbury, CT at the 1.53 mile Lime Rock Park. This event is always a little unique as there is a church located right next to the track. This means no racing on Sunday, which really bunches up the weekend schedule. For us, it meant that everything (practice, qualifying, and the race) took place on Friday. With only 45 minutes of practice before qualifying, it meant that the car had to essentially role off the trailer ready to race. Therefore, we didn’t have much time to work on the setup.

Heading into the season’s final race I knew we were out of the championship. I’ve had an incredibly unlucky season with some mechanical difficulties and being crashed out as well. Things certainly hadn’t been going my way. I was hoping for a top 5 finish at least. I wanted to prove that we could finish well, not just be fast.
Interestingly enough, I had never raced at Lime Rock in the dry. Last year’s race was a complete washout. You couldn’t see a thing when driving. This year, the forecast was great, with gorgeous weather and the leaves already changing in September. Since we had little practice time and I’d never raced in the dry, I used iRacing’s simulation service to prepare myself for the event. So my first lap in the dry felt like my hundredth.
In practice, everyone was pretty close in lap times. With such a short track, the times were under a minute! We made a change for qualifying and hoped for the best. Like almost every qualifying this year, I was on the pole for at least part of the session. It lasted one lap for this one. On the last lap I got jumped a few more cars as well, so I was to start 5th. The next Honda was 10th, which was the #75 Compass 360 Civic, second in the championship.
I had a great start for the race, moving into 4th on the first lap. Very uncharacteristic of our series, there wasn’t a yellow at the beginning of the race. We ran under green for a long time. After a while, the car started to fall off pretty significantly. I made the decision to wave a few cars by when they got close enough, so as not to screw us both up. There was no sense holding them up, when their car was clearly quicker. I dropped back to 7th. About an hour into the race, going in to Turn 1, I got hit by a Mazda MX-5 that had “brake problems” and it broke our right front suspension. Another race ruined; definitely a frustrating end to a frustrating season. We always had a fast car, but in the final results it rarely showed.
In the fight for the championship, it came down to the wire. In the end, the #75 Honda got beat out by the #23 BMW. So, a 2nd for Honda in the Driver’s championship and a 3rd place finish in the Manufacturer’s championship. The Honda’s were a lot stronger than the results showed this year. Our team especially was consistently the fastest Honda team, but couldn’t convert when it counted.
On to the next season. Hopefully I’ll be back in a Honda.
See you at the track!

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