Marc Sours GM of Honda Performance Development, Inc (HPD)

Honda adopts new engine formula for 2012

By Dave Lewandowski

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Honda Performance Development is the first engine manufacturer to commit to the next generation of IZOD IndyCar Series car.

HPD president Erik Berkman announced before qualifications at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that the racing arm of American Honda Motor Company is extending participation beyond expiration of its current supply agreement at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

HPD will continue to provide the Honda Indy V-8 engine to all competitors during the 2011 season, after which a 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 power plant, designed by HPD, will debut when new engine specifications take effect in the series in 2012.

The cost of a season-long lease for the 2012 Honda IndyCar engine will be reduced by up to 40 percent from current pricing. This follows a number of other significant cost reductions, which Honda has implemented since taking on the challenge of supplying the entire field of entrants in 2006. HPD has provided engines to the series since 2003.

“Through both robust and trying times, our commitment to open-wheel racing in America has never wavered,” Berkman said. “With today’s announcement, we are pleased to reaffirm that commitment, and extend it deep into the current decade. We’ve had meetings with the (Indy Racing League) and meetings directly with individual competitors to agree on how we can limit our escaltion of costs and yet have fair and reasonable competition.

“With a passionate and energetic new title sponsor in IZOD, dynamic new management at its helm, and plans to significantly reshape its on-track product in the near future, the IZOD IndyCar Series is poised for significant growth. We are delighted to take a role in that promising future.”

On June 2, IZOD IndyCar Series officials announced that its 2012 engine platform will allow manufacturers to produce engines with a maximum of six cylinders as well as maximum displacement of 2.4 cubic liters. The ethanol-fueled engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes and will be turbocharged to allow for flexibility in power.

“It shows commitment and dedication on their part, and we couldn’t be happier both with the job they’ve done in the competitive environment and their ability to step up and be our sole supplier from 2006 forward has been just phenomenal,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the IZOD IndyCar Series. “The performance and reliability is unmatched, and any time you get a company with the magnitude and caliber of Honda through HPD joining your series it’s a great thing.”

Other manufacturers are welcome to join Honda in supplying engines, and IZOD IndyCar Series CEO and team co-owner Gil de Ferran will travel to Europe in September to speak with potential manufacturers.

“The ICONIC Advisory Committee has researched future engine platforms with manufacturers, teams, drivers and fans, and they felt this strategy best highlights key attributes of the sport – speed, competition and diversity,” Bernard said. “We feel this open and all-inclusive platform will make our sport an attractive option to engine manufacturers, while allowing development of a relevant and innovative platform to the current and future automotive industry by highlighting efficiency, performance, durability, quality, environmental responsibility and safety.”

Founded in 1993 and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for American Honda high-performance racing cars and engines.

“By Honda extending its participation, I think it says a lot of what the IndyCar Series is now and where it’s going,” said de Ferran, former sporting director of Honda’s F1 program. “Manufacturers aren’t forced to participate in motorsports, and they’re not forced to participate in any one series per say. They do so because they choose to and because they can see the benefits that motorsports can bring to the business of selling road cars. Honda, as people like to say, is a racing company that happens to sell road cars.”

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