Honda Marine South Africa News

Honda Marine – the fastest growing outboard engine brand in South Africa
Clinton Lambert, the Divisional Manager of Honda Marine South Africa gives an overview of Honda Marine’s rapid growth in the SA market.

‘Many of you know that times have been particularly tough for auto manufacturers over the last three years. The marine industry was most certainly worse hit by the recession than other industries, but as I will explain later, we believe we have seen the worst, and the market is showing the first signs of slow recovery. With this in mind, I am proud to announce that in our fiscal year ended March 2011, Honda achieved combined sales of cars, motorcycles and power products of 23.37 million units, further consolidating our position as the world’s biggest manufacturer of engines.’
‘Although the worldwide outboard engine market is in clear uncertainty about its future, we can take some encouragement from the fact that 4-stroke sales represent 79% of the world’s total marine engine sales in 2010.

Traditional 2-strokes are banned in North America and Europe. Unfortunately Africa remains a dumping ground for CHEAP and DIRTY conventional 2-stroke outboards for other outboard brands to gain volume orders for their factories.’
‘Did you know that Honda only builds four stroke outboards, so we are extremely encouraged by the trend of 4-stroke sales worldwide. The exciting thing about the South African market is that 4-stroke outboard sales represented 50% of our South African market in 2011. This is up from the 7% that 4-strokes had when Honda Marine launched in South Africa in 2005. I know that Honda was instrumental in guiding this paradigm shift to 4-strokes over the past 6 years.

For 2011, the volume of the total South African outboard engine market grew by 14%, and the volume of four stroke outboard engine sales in South Africa grew by 22% compared to 2010. I am therefore confident that we are finally through the worst of the recession.

Since establishing our own operations in South Africa, the Honda Marine brand has gone from strength to strength. From sales of less than 21 outboards in 2005, the efforts of all our Honda associates, our dealers and our loyal customers, saw our market share exceed 10% in 2010. In 2011 Honda Marine owns 13% of the total market and 26% of the 4-stroke market.’

Total SA Market
4Stroke SA Market
Some facts about Honda Marine in 2011:

  • Honda Marine is the fastest growing outboard engine brand in South Africa, and has been for two years now.
  • Our sales in 2011 grew by 46% compared with 2010.
  • Honda Marine gained the most volume in 2011 compared with any other brand.
  • Honda Marine had the highest growth in market share in 2011.
  • Honda Marine was effectively the only brand that gained market share in the four stroke segment.

‘Honda’s bulletproof marine engines have gained this growth because of their reliability, durability, fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Honda Marine can also attribute this fantastic growth all over the world due to the technological advances we continuously implement into our engines.

Many of these technologies have now been implemented by our competitors, but it is reassuring to know that we were the first with advancements like VTEC, 3 Way Cooling, Dual Stage Induction and Lean Burn Control.

Did you know that since Honda pioneered the infamous VTEC engine in 1989, there has not been a single failure, and over ten million VTEC engines have been produced! Now that’s awesome stuff.’
‘And in 2007, Honda introduced the world to our new core technology for the next generation four stroke outboard engines called Boosted Low Speed Torque or BLAST. For those of you not familiar with this technology, this is an “air/fuel ratio linked ignition timing control” designed to improve acceleration at low speed.

The NSRI put this BLAST technology to the test against a two stroke EFI competitor on a 2,8 ton 7,3m RIB and the comparative holeshot test results were as follows:

0 – 10 Knots – Competitor took 9 sec and the Honda’s took 5 sec.
0 – 20 Knots – Competitor took 19 sec and the Honda’s took 15 sec.

So no longer do two strokes own the ‘Best Holeshot’ title.’
Fact:
‘Since we launched Honda Marine in 2005, we have sold about 2,000 x outboards. Take a guess how many mechanical warranty claims we have had over that period? A hint is that other brands deal with mechanical claims almost weekly.

Honda had ONE claim in 2006 and ONE claim in 2010!

We at Honda Marine Southern Africa are looking forward to 2012 and the new challenges and opportunities it presents. With a dealer network like ours, we know that we are only changing from 2nd into 3rd gear, and we have a six speed gearbox, so watch this space.’

HONDA MOTOR SA/ GLOBAL NEWS

Honda previews Production and Concept Products at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show

Seven Next-Generation Electromotive Concept Models on Display

Honda EV-STER

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. previewed its lineup of production and concept-model automobiles, motorcycles, power products, and other highlights at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011, which took place at Tokyo Big Sight in early December. At this motor show, with the stand concept of “What makes people feel good?” Honda will propose an exciting and thrilling mobility, life of the future that it envisions as a company providing personal mobility to people all around the world.

The display will include a line up of the next-generation electromotive concept models including two-, three- and four-wheeled commuter vehicles designed for easy and fun mobility in future cities, mid-to-long distance commuters designed to enrich life and enhance the freedom and fun of mobility, and sporty models that pursue the joy of driving/riding.

Furthermore, at the automobile section, N Concept, a new mini-vehicle series that emphasizes the creation of ample space, will be showcased, including the introduction of the first production model in the series, the N BOX. At the motorcycle section, a variety of models will be on display, including planned production models such as the NC700S, INTEGRA and NC700X, which will be equipped with Honda’s newly-developed global 700cc motorcycle engine. Also on display will be the planned production model of the CRF250L that offers both an ease of use in everyday life and the fun of off-road riding. Covering the largest floor area of any single brand at the show, the Honda stand will showcase a diverse line up of products unique to Honda.

As a part of “SMART MOBILITY CITY 2011″, a themed project the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JAMA) will hold at the motor show venue, Honda will showcase the FCX Clarity advanced fuel cell electric vehicle, EV-neo electric scooter, EV-MONPAL electric cart, as well as the Honda Smart Home System which features several Honda-developed energy production technologies, including a gas engine cogeneration unit and a solar powered system to reduce household and mobility CO2 emissions. Also the progress that Honda has been making in the testing programmes for these technologies will be showcased.

Since the establishment of the company, Honda’s goal has been to make people happy through its technologies and through the creation of products that are useful in people’s daily lives. Driven by these dreams and passion, Honda has been committed to the research and development of mobility that focuses on people. With a passion to create and deliver mobility filled with fun and good feelings for people, Honda’s challenge as a manufacturer of mobility products will continue into the future.

Electromotive concept models

Automobiles
AC-X –

A next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicle which offers a more comfortable and enjoyable time in the vehicle during all driving situations, from urban to long-distance driving. With the choices of an “engine drive mode” for more aggressive driving or an “automatic drive mode” for more relaxed driving, the vehicle broadens the joy of mobility.

Honda AC-X

MICRO COMMUTER CONCEPT
 – A micro-sized, futuristic, electric city commuter which will become a highly accessible form of mobility for more people. This vehicle will offer the joy of a new type of communication between people and mobility and an exterior that the owner can enjoy customizing more casually. The collaboration of Honda’s motorcycle and automobile R&D Centres made it possible to load the MOTOR COMPO two-wheel EV commuter in this vehicle.

Honda Micro Commuter Concept

SMALL SPORTS EV CONCEPT (tentative name) – 
A next-generation EV sports model which maximizes the fun of driving while achieving excellent environmental performance.

Small Sports EV Concept

Motorcycles
MOTOR COMPO
 – A compact EV commuter which offers the casual and convenient mobility of a two-wheeler, but also strives to be useful even when it is not being ridden. This model can be loaded in the MICRO COMMUTER CONCEPT, with the battery that drives this commuter detachable and designed to be used as a power source in everyday life.

Honda Motor Compo

E-CANOPY – 
A quiet and comfortable next-generation commuter developed by installing an EV system on Honda’s unique three-wheeled scooter. In addition to personal use, this vehicle can be utilized for business use such as a delivery service by adopting a rear trunk that can be built-in.

Honda E-Canopy

RC-E – 
An EV version of a super sports bike that pursues the joy of riding. A powerful and smooth ride unique to an EV model is achieved with the 250cc-class compact body.

Honda RC-E

Power Products
TOWNWALKER – 
Urban mobility which pursues simplicity and nimbleness that enables anyone to enjoy mobility in urban areas more casually. It can easily be loaded on a car by folding away the steering and seat.

Honda Townwalker

 

Honda Announces Revolutionary Next-generation “Earth Dreams Technology”

-New plan calls for top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within 3 years-
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has just announced the outline for a revolutionary next-generation technology for automobiles called “Earth Dreams Technology”, a set of advancements which greatly enhance both driving performance and fuel efficiency at a high level, using as its base advanced environmental technologies to pursue the joy of driving unique to Honda. It is a series of measures in which efficiency of internal combustion components including engine, and transmission, as well as electric-powered motor technology, is further improved.

Through its implementation first in the mini-vehicle N BOX and gradually onto other vehicle models, Honda aims to achieve top-of-industry fuel efficiency for every category within three years, while simultaneously setting a timeline of 2020 to reduce CO2 emissions for all products sold worldwide by 30%, relative to emission figures for 2000.

The inspiration of the “Earth Dreams Technology” name comes from:

An expression for a set of technologies that takes into account both our need to protect the environment and our desire to provide a joy of driving.
Summary of the key features

1.      A gasoline engine that achieves top-of-industry driving performance and fuel efficiency

By enhancing Honda’s original VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control System) technology to thoroughly improve thermal efficiency and minimize friction, a combination of high output and fuel efficiency was achieved. Further, a new engine series employing a new structure for higher expandability was developed.

By gradually renewing the engine starting with the mini-vehicle N BOX, Honda aims to utilize this technology to achieve top-of-industry output and fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within three years.

A wide range of engine classes including the 660cc, 1.3L, 1.5L, 1.8L, 2.0L, 2.4L, and 3.5L classes will feature the technology.

660cc class engine

Employs DOHC and VTC (Variable Timing Control) to improve intake efficiency. Furthermore, the compact combustion chamber also achieves high thermal efficiency.

By shortening the bore pitch compared to the present engine models and reducing the thickness of the cylinder block and camshaft, engine weight is reduced by 15% and fuel efficiency is improved by 10%.

1.3 to 1.5L class engine

Employs VTC, direct injection technology and the Atkinson cycle using the DOHC, VTEC technologies as the base.

Also extensive friction reduction measures are implemented.

1.8 to 2.0L class engine

Employs direct injection technology and the Atkinson cycle using the DOHC, VTEC technologies as the base. Furthermore, implementation of VTC and high-capacity EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) to both the intake and exhaust ports results in significantly reduced friction.

For the 2.0L class hybrid vehicle engines, use of an electric water pump eliminates the need for a belt in the auxiliary device and contributes to a reduction in friction. The VTC system also allows fuel-efficient driving from various driving styles.

2.4L class engine
Based on the DOHC and VTEC technologies, it employs VTC and direct injection technology and implements extensive friction reduction measures.

Standalone engine features include 5% improvements in fuel efficiency and output, as well as a 10% improvement in maximum torque compared to the previous engine.

3.5L class engine

Employs new valve train mechanisms and direct injection technology in the SOHC, VTEC, VMC systems to improve fuel efficiency by over 10% and output by 5%, relative to the present standalone engine model.

2.      A compact diesel engine that achieves the world’s lightest body, top-of-class acceleration performance and fuel efficiency

Through optimizing engine rigidity and combustion pressure, an aluminium open deck for the cylinder block was enabled in this top-of-industry lightweight 1.6L class diesel engine.

By downsizing from the present 2.2L engine and extensively reducing mechanical friction in each section, a friction level equivalent to present gasoline engine models was achieved.

Optimization of the thermal management system thanks to improvements in the cooling system reduces CO2 output by over 15%.

Employment of a compact, high-efficiency turbocharger and weight reduction in the reciprocating sliding section results in a sporty and nimble ride.

3. CVT combining the fun of driving and fuel efficiency

Three CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) structures for mini, compact, and mid-size vehicle classes have been newly developed for a variety of engine sizes.

A reinforced belt is used to realize a structure for which a wide ratio range can be set.

Implementation of analysis technology over the contact behaviour between the belt and pulley, and a high-precision hydraulic control system allows for continual optimization of hydraulic pressure to the pulley under a variety of driving conditions, contributing to improved fuel efficiency.

Use of an electronic oil pump to give an idle stop system with high response contributes significantly to improved usability and fuel efficiency.

“G-Design Shift”, a new coordinated control system for shift transmission, throttle, and hydraulic control responds quickly to driver demands and achieves an exhilarating, sporty drive with superior acceleration.

In the mini-vehicle class, a control mechanism and innovations in axle placement reduce the engine size lengthwise, while a reduction in parts by simplifying the transmission casing structure helps achieve a lightweight and compact body.

For the compact and mid-size classes, in addition to the reductions in size and weight, transmission efficiency was greatly improved by expanding the ratio range to achieve fuel efficiency improvements of 5% and 10% compared to the conventional CVT and comparable 5ATs, respectively.

4. A two-motor hybrid system that achieves top-of-industry efficiency

A two-motor hybrid system featuring top-of-industry efficiency enhancing driving performance and reduced CO2 emissions has been newly developed.

A special lithium-ion battery and charger is employed to enable mounting on plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Mid-sized vehicles equipped with this system are scheduled to begin production, starting with the plug-in hybrid model in 2012 and the hybrid model in 2013.

Three driving modes allowing for top-of-industry efficiency for various driving environments were developed, namely an “EV driving mode” for urban environments, a “hybrid driving mode” using electricity generated by the motor, and an “engine-connected driving mode” where the engine and tyres are mechanically connected during high-speed cruising.

Combination with a high-output 120kW motor allows for superior environmental performance and driving enjoyment.

5.      A high-efficiency, high output electric SH-AWD hybrid system that combines superior driving and environmental performance

A new hybrid system, electric SH-AWD, was developed for large-sized vehicles. By combining a 3.5L, V6 engine with this hybrid system, acceleration equivalent to V8 engines, as well as fuel efficiency equal or superior to in-line 4-cylinder engines were achieved.

An electric 4WD system with independent 20kW+ motors on both sides for the rear wheels combines a 7-speed dual clutch transmission system with a built-in 30kW+ high-efficiency motor with the engine.

By mounting a high-performance lithium-ion battery and optimally controlling the front and rear motors, a new hybrid system with high fuel efficiency and output was the result.

By mounting two independent motors in the rear and employing a newly developed bilateral torque adjustable control system, incredibly tight cornering just like driving “on-the-rail” is achievable. With this mechanism, Honda strives to provide a stable ride for various driving environments.

6. A compact, high efficiency electric powertrain for EVs

Thanks to the high efficiency coaxial motor, low-friction gearbox and electric servo brake system, the system gives the highest electrical consumption capability in the world, meeting the required AC consumption rate of 29kWh/100mile (116MPGe) as set forth by the United States.

A traveling distance of 123 miles (LA-4mode: unadjusted) or 210km(JC08 mode) was achieved thanks to the mounting of a high capacity lithium-ion battery.

When using the 240V U.S. electric source, a full charge takes less than 3 hours (from the time a low-charge signal is lit till full charge).

By offering three driving modes (SPORT, NORMAL, ECON), the driver can freely select from a number of options to meet the needs of various driving styles such as power-saving or sporty driving.

 

Honda Aircraft Achieves First Flight of Third FAA-Conforming HondaJet and
announces Milestone on Remaining Test Fleet
GREENSBORO, NC, U.S.A., December 20, 2011 – Honda Aircraft Company announced on the one-year anniversary of flight testing of its first FAA design-conforming HondaJet aircraft, that its third conforming aircraft, referred to as “F2,” joined flight test and has been conducting extensive flight testing since its first flight on Nov. 18, 2011. This milestone marks important progress toward the HondaJet’s certification.

The F2 aircraft’s first flight test began with engine startup at 2:04pm Eastern Time and lift-off at 2:21, on Nov. 18, 2011, from Honda Aircraft Company’s world headquarters at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport.

The team completed a variety of checks in this first flight, including: take-off and climb; landing gear operation; flap operations; aircraft handling; air data system checks with instrumentation; and an Instrument Landing System approach using the flight director. Overall, the aircraft performed quite well, according to the pilots and telemetry teams. Since this first flight, Honda Aircraft has expanded F2’s performance envelope as the aircraft has begun its test mission work in earnest.

HondaJet 2 Flight Crew

“The first flight of a flight test aircraft is an important milestone for an aircraft certification program, and the fact that we achieved F2’s first flight shortly after receiving its engines illustrates our team’s preparation and readiness,” said Michimasa Fujino, President and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company. “F2’s first flight was the result of extensive planning, hard work and execution by many teams and individuals across our organization and our supply chain partner network. The aircraft’s performance is as expected and flying in the aircraft is exhilarating.”

The first FAA-conforming HondaJet, F1, which flew for the first time on Dec. 20, 2010, has already achieved key benchmarks that meet or exceed the aircraft’s designed performance goals. In March, Honda Aircraft reported the aircraft achieved a maximum speed of 425 KTAS (489 mph) at 30,000 feet, surpassing the company’s performance commitment of 420 KTAS. The aircraft has since achieved a climb rate of 4,000 feet per minute, beating its target of 3,990 FPM, and a maximum operating altitude of 43,000 feet.

HondaJet 3 - 1st Structural Test Aircraft

“While the flight test aircraft are highly visible and vital to our certification program, our structural test aircraft also are just as essential to Honda Aircraft’s certification program,” continued Mr. Fujino. “In 2011, we made major progress on FAA structural component tests and entire aircraft structural tests with the second conforming aircraft, ST1, and we successfully completed all limit load tests for the aircraft structure.”

Honda Aircraft plans to begin flying two additional flight test aircraft, F3 and F4, in 2012. The company also plans to begin structural testing with additional structural test aircraft in 2012.

HONDA RACING NEWS

The Marco Simoncelli Foundation becomes a reality
A non-profit organization in memory of the late MotoGP San Carlo Honda Gresini rising star Marco Simoncelli has been realized through the efforts of his family and friends. “The Marco Simoncelli Foundation” began as an idea of Carlo Pernat (Simoncelli’s manager) and was immediately embraced by the Simoncelli family, who worked quickly to make the foundation a legal reality.

“We completed all of the paperwork in a very short time,” said Paolo Simoncelli, “and we are ready to start work.” The president of the foundation will be Marco’s mother Rossella, while Paolo Simoncelli’s sister Angela and Dr. Arnaldo Cappellini will sit on the board of directors. Sister Martina and girlfriend Kate, with assistance from Carlo Pernat and Paolo Beltramo (Mediaset MotoGP journalist and friend) will offer their assistance.
“We already have several initiatives underway. For example, on January 20 an event titled ‘Happy Birthday Sic’ will be held at the 105 Stadium in Rimini, an evening designed for fun as my son would have liked. There will be comedians from the TV show Zelig on stage and many of Simoncelli’s friends from the GP paddock are also expected to show up. We are also working on an exhibition dedicated to Marco in the City of Coriano, managed directly by the Foundation. We are just getting started and we’re surrounded by positivity that was so typical of Marco, positivity that affected everyone around him and made him an extraordinary person.”

“The basic premise of the Foundation,” explained Paolo Simoncelli, “is that through keeping the memory of Marco alive we can help alleviate suffering of those who are worse off than us. It is hard for me to say where and how the funds raised will be distributed, since I cannot assess how much we will have available as time goes by. One thing is certain; I will try and manage all this as a good father.”

“We received a huge number of messages of affection for Marco” added Paolo Simoncelli, “and this has helped and continues to help us overcome the difficult times that we live with daily. Seeing how many people loved our son has helped us go on and we believe that ‘The Marco Simoncelli Foundation’ represents the best way to remember him in the future.”

FIM announce changes to 2012 MotoGP calendar
The FIM announced changes to the MotoGP World Championship 2012 provisional calendar, which include a change of date for the opening round in Qatar, the confirmation of the Jerez circuit contract plus the designation of Sachsenring as the circuit to host the Grand Prix of Germany (pending confirmation of the contract).

2011 MotoGP World Champion - Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner

The new schedule for 2012 is as follows:

 

Date                          Grand Prix                                                                   Circuit
8 April                        Qatar*                                                                           Doha/Losail
29 April                      Spain                                                                            Jerez
6 May                         Portugal (STC)                                                             Estoril
20 May                       France                                                                          Le Mans
3 June                        Catalunya                                                                    Catalunya
17 June                      Great Britain                                                               Silverstone
30 June                      Netherlands**                                                              Assen
8 July                         Germany (STC)                                                            Sachsenring
15 July                       Italy                                                                               Mugello
29 July                       United States***                                                           Laguna Seca
19 August                   Indianapolis                                                                 Indianapolis
26 August                  Czech Rep.                                                                   Brno
16 September           San Marino & Riviera di Rimini                                 Misano
30 September           Aragon                                                                           Motorland
14 October                Japan                                                                             Motegi
21 October                Malaysia                                                                        Sepang
28 October                Australia                                                                        Phillip Island
11 November            Valencia                                                                         Valencia

*Evening Race/
** Saturday Race/
*** Only MotoGP class

 

IndyCar must handle change well in 2012

2011 IndyCar Champion - Dario Franchitti

Coming on the heels of both Dario Franchitti’s masterfully triumphant championship run and a horribly tragic accident that claimed the life of one of IndyCar’s brightest stars, Dan Wheldon, the 2012 season looks to be a combination of unknowns and great potential. New cars, new faces and new venues will grab the early headlines. Here are 10 important questions that will highlight the season.




1. What’s new for 2012?

What isn’t?

For the first time since 2006, IndyCar will have competing engine manufacturers as the cars change from normally aspirated V-8s to twin turbo-charged V6s powered by Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus.

The question is whether this will create a more level playing field among teams, at least in the early going. Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and KV Racing will field Chevrolets; Target Chip Ganassi Racing is continuing with Honda; and Dreyer and Reinbold, HVM and Bryan Herta Autosport have partnered with Lotus.

Chevrolet to return to IndyCar racing in 2012

2. How will the new Dallara chassis be received?

Developed with input from a safety-first committee of former drivers, engineers, promoters and officials, Dallara began delivering the chassis — DW12 (the initials DW for Dan Wheldon) — en masse in mid-December.

Teams have been shaking them down sporadically during the offseason to mixed reviews.

Three-time defending champ Franchitti’s main concern is that IndyCar allow the teams generous leeway in adjusting and setting up the cars. He doesn’t want to see the series put everyone in too tight a box.

As his team owner Chip Ganassi said this offseason, “The new car is somewhat of a revolution. It might take a little extra time to get it right for everybody, not necessarily right for just one or two teams.’’

In light of Wheldon’s death, safety will be paramount, but the cars must be racy, too. The general consensus among those who have tested the cars is that they will be OK on the road courses but still need work on the oval package.

Dan Wheldon

3. Can Franchitti be slowed?

Can anyone stop Dario Franchitti’s amazing and historic run of championships? In winning his fourth title — third consecutive — he has erased any doubt of his place among the sport’s very best. Now he’s trying to equal the record of four straight championships that Sebastien Bourdais set in the old Champ Car Series, also a mark for consecutive titles in any form of IndyCar racing. There’s no reason to expect Franchitti’s primary competition to be any different than last year — Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon and Team Penske’s Will Power.

Who picked up an IndyCar race win in 2011?

“I don’t think there’s any more pressure,’’ Franchitti said of his quest to four-peat. “I think you’ve got to keep the motivation up. When you’re going for that first championship, you’ve never won one, you’ve got that great motivation to do it, but no experience. The trick is now when you’re going for your second, third, fourth, fifth, whatever, is to use that experience and to keep the motivation.’’

4. How best to promote the sport?

It’s been a tough two-year tenure at the top for IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard — a “likable guy,” by all accounts, but a racing outsider who’s had steep challenges leading the series through multiple transitions. Some insiders wonder if his days are numbered, but IndyCar’s team owners and drivers continue to publicly voice support for him.

“Look at the things that have gone on since he came into the sport . . . ” Ganassi said. “The guy, just about every time he comes up for air, he gets pushed back under the water again. The good news is I think Randy’s shown great ability to breathe underwater.’’

To Ganassi’s point, the job will continue to be a tall order in 2012, with the introduction of new cars, new power plants, a revamped schedule and the call to review and improve safety in light of Wheldon’s tragic accident.

Perhaps the best thing he could do is help make IndyCar racing as relevant as it is good. His challenge is to improve the television ratings and put people in the grandstands without having to grandstand or become too gimmicky.

The racing is incredible — close finishes, wheel-to-wheel excitement and rivalries that NASCAR fans would love to have.

5. Who leads race control?

Who will Bernard tap to succeed longtime official Brian Barnhart in race control?

Bernard has promised an announcement in the near future. Both Wally Dallenbach Jr. and longtime official Beaux Barfield have been leading candidates for the job.

Dallenbach would be a good fit considering his knowledge and familiarity of the sport as IndyCar’s Versus television commentator, along with his driving background. He also holds a distinguished pedigree in this department as his father, Wally Dallenbach Sr., was the highly respected chief steward of CART for more than 20 years.

Barfield has valuable experience, having worked as a steward for Champ Car in the mid-2000s. He’s currently the American Le Mans Series competition director and well-known, well-liked and respected throughout the industry.

(Editor update, Jan. 2: IndyCar answers this question, reportedly hires Barfield for role.)
6. What will be done about safety?

Just as NASCAR faced intense scrutiny in 2001 after the death of seven-time champ Dale Earnhardt, IndyCar finds itself being held accountable for safety improvements in light of Dan Wheldon’s fatal accident in the last race of the 2011 season.

A post-crash investigation called Wheldon’s accident the result of a “perfect storm” of tragic events — not due to any one cause. But while saying IndyCar is committed to improving safety in general, the sanctioning body has offered no specific recommendations since the accident for tracks or cars. The new chassis was designed with safety upgrades; ironically, its chief test driver during development was Wheldon.

Bernard has held multiple meetings with drivers, team owners, engineers and track operators to gather input and suggestions.

“IndyCar has always worked very hard on safety,’’ Franchitti said. “I think Dan’s accident was a catalyst for a renewal of that effort. . . . I’m happy with what I see and with the effort everybody’s putting in, the fact that the drivers have very much been included in that.’’

7. Can Penske return to top?

Will this be the year that Team Penske reclaims its championship mojo? For the past two years, Will Power has single-handedly carried the banner of the most successful team in IndyCar history — losing out to Franchitti in the championship in the past two season finales while winning a series best 11 races and 16 poles since 2010.

After proving himself the class of the field for the past two years, can Power finally close the deal in 2012?

His teammate, three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, is certainly motivated after suffering through the worst season in his 11-year tenure at Penske — finishing 11th in the championship.

It marked the first time Castroneves did not win a race since being at Penske and the first time he didn’t at least claim a pole position since 2001.

Similarly, Ryan Briscoe endured his worst season (sixth in points) since being hired by Penske in 2008. He’s finished among the top five in the championship and won at least one race in his first three years with Penske but was shut out in wins and poles in 2011. His Team Penske Chevrolet switches from No. 6 to No. 2 — so already the numbers are looking up.

Familiar colours of Team Penske

8. Who takes the spotlight?

With Danica Patrick’s departure to NASCAR, who will be the new face of the series? Most agree that the late Wheldon, who had secured a full-time ride for 2012, would have willingly and most competently taken on the task of series frontman.

Even though Danica wasn’t winning, she provided star power to the series and IndyCar still needs that spotlight.

Beyond championship drivers Franchitti, Power and Dixon there are many marketable, spotlight-ready personalities — including talented young Americans such as Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti. The series needs to broaden its reach and utilize series sponsor IZOD’s vast promotional and marketing resources to get the word out there.

9. How well will Andretti perform?

Will Andretti Autosport be championship calibre again, and can Marco Andretti take it to the next level?

While the team consistently visits the winner’s circle, it hasn’t really proved itself ready to run at the big trophy in years.

During the mid-2000s the Andretti team was unstoppable, collecting race wins and championships (Dario Franchitti in 2007, Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Tony Kanaan in 2004). But it’s been a tough go lately, and as of the new year, the four-car team — which would have included Wheldon replacing Patrick — has only two drivers lined up for 2012.

Third-generation driver Marco Andretti won a race last year for his dad but has yet to prove himself a week-in, week-out threat. Yet.

Meanwhile, teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has won in each of the past two seasons, is being mentioned as a championship contender in 2012.

10. How much will road courses impact the season?

Will the new road- and street course-heavy schedule alienate the longtime, loyal fan base?

Bernard has said this year’s tilt to 11 street/road courses and only four ovals is temporary as the series works through scheduling issues and sanctioning agreements.

Bernard has noted that the attendance and television ratings lag at the oval events — the Indianapolis 500 notwithstanding.

There are rumours that the 1-mile Phoenix oval might reappear, and there have been talks with the famed Watkins Glen International road course.

A 16th race will be announced “at a later date,” according to Bernard, who promised on an Indianapolis radio station last month that “we’ll take a small step back and in 2013 you’ll see it more thought out and planned.’’
 

BOAT REVIEW

This month Leisure Boating, SA’s premier monthly boating magazine, reviews the Infanta 6.7SRi powered by twin Honda BF90HP outboard engines. To read the review click on the link below and look under Latest Boat Reviews:

http://www.leisureboating.co.za
 

 

DEALER FOCUS

Honda Marine St Francis

Honda Marine St Francis' launch just 6 months ago

With each Newsletter we’ll be introducing you to the Honda Marine Dealer Network, letting you know where your nearest Honda Marine dealer is situated and also giving you background into how Honda Marine has been able to so effectively establish itself in the South African market.

Working our way around the coast and then inland, we’re now heading off to Honda Marine St Francis.
Here we find ourselves in discussion with Warren Rachman, the Dealer Principal at Honda Marine St Francis.

Warren Rachman - Dealer Principal - Honda Marine St Francis

Why did you choose Honda in terms of wanting to be a Marine dealer?
Looking at all our options and based on the fact that St Francis is a boating mecca with both tremendous commercial and leisure opportunities, we wanted to partner with a strong brand which has fantastic prospects going forward, therefore the choice of Honda, the fastest growing 4-stroke brand in South Africa, was always going to be at the top of our list.
How long have you been a Honda Marine dealer?
We’ve only been up and running for 6 months, so we’re still very much in the first phase of our Honda business operations, but the reception from the people of St Francis has been phenomenal and we envisage things going from strength to strength.

Meet the Team at the Dealership
We’ve quickly built up a strong team who are highly dedicated and passionate about what they do. Our strength lies currently around the technical/workshop side, however we’re gearing up step by step in the other primary areas of operation with a view to establishing a shop that offers our customers a 1-stop facility for a hassle-free boating experience.

Warren Rachman(Technical)
Eamon Scott (Parts/Accessories/Admin)
Louis Fouche (Storage/Launch & Retrieve)
Soul Mapoe (Workshop 2IC)
Willem Robinson (Workshop)
Brandon Doyle (Workshop)
Face(Cleaning/Storage)
Bonga(Cleaning/Storage)

With what Boat Manufacturers do you have direct tie-ups?

Angler Boats' Benguela 19 powered by 2 x Honda BF75HP outboards

With all the boating applications that St Francis has to offer, we have established partnerships with all the major boat manufacturers, so that we can offer our customers exactly the right boat for their individual needs.

Infanta 5.2m SRi powered by a Honda BF75HP

What types of Boat Packages are most popular in your area?

Panache 1750 powered by a Honda BF115HP

From the river to the infamous canal waterways with access to the ocean, combined with the deep sea fishing opportunities that St Francis has to offer, we have a huge potential market ranging from speedboats for watersports usage to twin-mount fibre-glass hulled and rigid inflatable boats for offshore/deep sea fishing usage.

In what main areas does your Workshop specialise?

The professional servicing of Honda outboards and other makes is key at Honda Marine St Francis

Our primary focus is the servicing of Honda outboard engines, the rigging of new boat packages, as well as offering our customers launch and collection services, cleaning, repairs and general maintenance. We also specialize in the servicing of Suzuki 4-stroke outboard engines together with all Seadoo products.

With which Leisure Accessory companies are you involved?

A wide range of skis, wakeboards and other leisure accessories are available

We offer a comprehensive range of skis, wakeboards and watertoys, as well as a host of other leisure accessories, currently having tie-ups with the following companies: Fluid/ Obrien/ Connelly/ HO/ Liquid Force/ Quiver/ Fuel/ Burn/ Body Glove/ Hydro Slide.

With which Navigational Equipment companies are you involved?

Garmin GPS 420s

We are involved with all the major players in terms of the supply of top quality navigational equipment, namely Garmin/ Furuno/ and Raymarine.  

Do you offer sell Canoes/ Kayaks
Paddling on the canal waterways of St Francis is extremely popular, so we offer a number of canoes from the Quiver range as well as the full range of Fluid products, allowing us to cater for every kayaking need.

In the case of Customer Emergencies or Problems, do you offer a Call-Out service? We offer a full-on Call-Out service with charges being levied according to the nature of the problem.

Do you have a specific message for the readers?

"We'll do it all for you, you just add the water"

Honda Marine St Francis is rapidly establishing itself as a 1-Stop boating shop offering their customers a hassle-free boating experience from the very day they first step into the shop to order their specific boat package for their individual boating need/ application. As Warren says, “We’ll do it all for you, you just add the water.”

Dealership Contact Details – HONDA MARINE ST FRANCIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tel.: 042 2940961
Fax: 042 2940845
E-mail: warren@hondamarinestfrancis.co.za

Website: www.hondamarinestfrancis.co.za (site under construction – online soon)