Honda 2012 Motorsports Overview
February 3, 2012 – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the key features of its 2012 motorsports program, including its motorsports strategy and initiatives for expanding the popularity of motorsports. For Honda, motorsports activities are the symbol of the company’s challenging spirit. Honda has aimed for the world’s top level from the days of its founding, taking on challenges in a variety of racing categories. With the know-how and challenging spirit cultivated through its motorsports activities, Honda will continue to expand their activities that meet customers’ expectations and that bring more joy and excitement in 2012.
RC213V #1 Casey Stoner
In the MotoGP, the premier class of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (WGP), the Honda factory team of Repsol Honda Team will put forward a lineup of two riders, last year’s series champion Casey Stoner together with Dani Pedrosa. In line with the regulation change of 2012, Honda will enter the newly developed RC213V machine, Honda is targeting to win all three championship titles this year, capturing the rider’s, team’s, and constructor’s titles for the second year in a row. Honda will also supply machines to satellite teams, amounting to a total of three teams and four riders.
In the Moto2 class, Honda will continue its active support as the sole official engine supplier, based on the CBR600RR motorcycle. The Moto3 class, which replaces the 125cc class, will be competed with 4-stroke 250-cc engines. For this purpose, Honda has developed the NSF250R, which is now also commercially available.
In the premier IA1 class of the MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship Series, Honda
re-launched its factory team involvement last year. This Team HRC will compete with three riders this season; Akira Narita, last year’s series champion in the IA1 class, and Makoto Ogata, moving up from the IA2 class, will join Yu Hirata for a total of 3 riders.
Through collaboration with its local subsidiaries in many countries, Honda aims to capture championships in series races held globally, including the FIM World Superbike Championship Series (WSB), the World Motocross Championship Series (WMX), the FIM World Trial Championship Series, and for the new entry FIM Asia Road Racing Championship Series.
Civic 5-door (EU model) WTCC image sketch
Honda has initiated discussions with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) for participation in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Planning to compete with the new 5-door Civic that will go on sale in Europe, Honda aims to enter the WTCC starting with the Race of Japan held at Suzuka Circuit in October 2012 and compete in all WTCC races in 2013.
In the Super GT Series, Honda will compete in the GT500 class with its HSV-010 GT with improved dynamic performance and aims to recapture the dual titles of both the driver’s and team’s championships by entering five teams and five racing machines. In the GT300 class, Honda will start competition with a CR-Z equipped with a racing hybrid system, supporting the racing activities of Team Mugen through a joint project with M-TEC Co., Ltd.
Honda will enter four teams in All-Japan Formula Nippon Championships and equip six cars with the 3.4-litre V-8 HR10E engine, now featuring even greater combustion efficiency while achieving greater power and improved fuel efficiency. These teams will battle to win back the dual titles of both driver’s and team’s championships.
In North America’s premier IndyCar® Series, Honda will supply the 2.2-litre V-6 HI12R turbo engine to 6 teams and 10 machines, as it seeks to win the engine manufacturer’s title. The Japanese driver Takuma Sato will race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the IndyCar® Series for his third season as well as compete selectively in Formula Nippon this season.
Overview of Motorcycle Racing Strategy – Road Races
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Series – MotoGP class
Honda will compete again this year in the MotoGP class, the premier class of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Series (WGP), our goals being to win all three championship titles—rider’s, team’s, and constructor’s titles—for the second year in a row. This year Honda will race the newly developed RC213V machines in line with the regulation change in the maximum engine displacement from 800 cc to 1000 cc.
RC213V #26 Dani Pedrosa
The Repsol Honda Team, the factory team, will enter the races with Casey Stoner, last season’s champion, and Dani Pedrosa. Two satellite teams with two riders will compete as well. Alvaro Bautista will represent Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, and Stefan Bradl, last year’s Moto2 class champion, will represent LCR Honda MotoGP.
In Moto2 class, Honda will once again support the series as the sole official engine supplier. All machines for every team will be powered by a race engine developed exclusively for the Moto2 class, derived from the in-line 4-cylinder engine of the commercial CBR600RR supersports model.
In this class, Takaaki Nakagami, last season’s champion in the J-GP2 class of MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series, will join the race for the Italtrans Racing Team, while Yuki Takahashi, in his third season as a Moto2 class rider, will now compete for NGM Mobile Forward Racing. The Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot, also in his third Moto2 season, will now race for Gresini Racing Moto2.
The Moto3 class has been established as a new WGP racing class this year. In response, Honda has developed the NSF250R, specifically for the Moto3 racing, which went on-sale last year. Moto3’s inaugural 2012 season will feature 13 Honda machines out of a total of 32 machines. Honda will support Kenta Fujii, last season’s J-GP3 champion of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series, who will be the only Japanese rider in the class this year.
The former Moto3 class was for 125 cc class for machines equipped with 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines. New Moto3 regulations have been changed to compete with 4-stroke engines and having displacement of up to 250 cc.
FIM Endurance World Championship Series – Suzuka 8hours Endurance Road Race
To heighten the attraction of the 35th Suzuka 8hours Endurance Road Race, Honda plans to enter riders who are active in championship races around the world and in Japan, such as Jonathan Rea, who competes in the FIM World Superbike Championship Series (WSB), and Kosuke Akiyoshi, who currently competes in the MFJ All-Japan Road Racing Championship Series. These riders will come from veteran endurance race teams such as F.C.C. TSR Honda and MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO.
FIM World Superbike Championship Series
The Honda World Superbike Team, supported by Honda Motor Europe Ltd. (HME), Honda’s local affiliate in Europe, will compete in the World Superbike Championship Series (WSB) with the CBR1000RR. The two riders on the team will be Jonathan Rea, racing for Honda in WSB, and Hiroshi Aoyama, who raced in MotoGP until last year.
FIM World Motocross Championship Series
Supported by Honda Motor Europe Ltd. (HME), Honda’s local subsidiary in Europe, the Honda World Motocross Team will enter the race with the CRF450R model in the MX1 class, the premier class of the FIM World Motocross Championship Series (WMX).
*MX1 includes engine displacements of 2-stroke/175cc–250cc and 4-stroke/290cc–450cc.
FIM World Trial Championship Series
Repsol Montesa Honda will compete again this year in the FIM World Trial Championship Series (WCT). Honda will run two Montesa COTA 4RTs equipped with 4-stroke engines. Two riders will compete; Toni Bou, the current five-year consecutive champion, and Takahisa Fujinami, the only Japanese rider in the series, who placed third last season.
Honda has its eyes on its sixth straight rider’s championship and its seventh straight manufacturer’s championship.
Overview of Automobile Racing Strategy
FIA World Touring Car Championship
Civic 5-door WTCC image sketch
Honda has decided to enter the world of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) and has now initiated discussions with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) for participation in the race. Honda aims to enter the WTCC competition with the Civic 5-door model that will be sold in the European market, beginning with the Race of Japan at Suzuka Circuit in October 2012 and will then race in all WTCC races in 2013. This Civic 5-door model will be a 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbo engine featuring direct injection to comply with FIA regulation. The Automobile R&D Center of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. will develop the engine, while M-TEC Co., Ltd. will be in charge of manufacturing and maintenance. J.A.S. Motorsports of Italy, will be responsible for vehicle body development and manufacturing, as well as the team’s operations.
SUPER GT – GT500 class
In the GT500 class, Honda will continue to race using the HSV-010 GT with improved dynamic performance in its quest to recapture the dual titles of both driver’s and team‘s championships. Five vehicles in five different teams will compete again this season. As before, the machine is being developed under the Honda GT Project by the Automobile R&D Center of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. in cooperation with M-TEC Co., Ltd. and Dome Co., Ltd. Carrying the flag for Autobacs Racing Team Aguri will be Ralph Firman, a Super GT champion driver, while Carlo van Dam, the 2008 champion of the Japanese Formula 3 Championship, will compete for Weider Honda Racing in the GT 500 class of Super GT.
SUPER GT – GT300 class
CR-Z Super GT/ GT300 image sketch
Starting this year, Honda will enter the GT300 class with a CR-Z equipped with a racing hybrid system, and through a joint project with M-TEC Co., Ltd. Honda will support the racing activities of TEAM MUGEN, which plans to enter GT300 from Round 4 (Sportsland SUGO). The development driver will be Hideki Mutoh, who has competed in the IndyCar® Series and the GT500 class of SUPER GT.
Japanese Championship Formula Nippon
Aiming to win the title with teams entering machines powered by Honda engines, Honda will equip four teams and six cars with the 3.4-litre V-8 HR10E engine through Japan Race Promotion Co., Ltd.
Takuma Sato, who will race in the entire IndyCar® Series this year, will also compete selectively in Formula Nippon.
Developing talent: Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP)
For developing racing talent, Honda directs the Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP), which focuses on discovering and cultivating young, skilled drivers to be active in motorsports. For this season, Honda will support a total of six drivers, two drivers competing in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship Series and four drivers competing in the Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ), a junior formula car race.
Japanese Formula 3 Championship Series
For this season, Honda will support racers Tomoki Nojiri in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship Series (the former C class) and Kazuki Hiramine in the F3N class.
Formula Challenge Japan
For the purposes of “discovery and cultivation of young, skilled drivers to be active on the world stage”, Honda will continuously support the Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ)*, a junior formula car race, together with two other automakers. As part of its ongoing participation in FCJ, Honda will support the participation of four drivers through training scholarships.
*Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ): This junior formula car race was founded in 2006 through the cooperation of three automakers: Toyota, Nissan and Honda. The concept places its focus on the discovery and cultivation of young, skilled drivers to be active on the world stage and developing talent who can help spread the foundation of Japanese motorsports and support future growth.
Developing talent: Suzuka Circuit Racing School (SRS)
Seeking to develop riders and drivers who will become formidable contenders on the global motorsports stage, Mobilityland Corporation operates its own racing schools: the Suzuka Circuit Racing School Junior (SRS-J) for motorcycles and the Suzuka Circuit Racing School Kart (SRS-K) and Suzuka Circuit Racing School Formula (SRS-F) for automobiles. Top-notch riders and drivers provide guidance at these schools as instructors. The Suzuka Circuit Racing School has produced competitive racers for the MotoGP and Formula One Grand Prix. Many graduates have been active in numerous motorcycle and automobile racing categories both inside Japan and overseas. Racers in training who demonstrate excellent results at SRS-F will receive training scholarships for their participation in Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ), a race category for stepping up onto higher level competition.
Main Honda Teams and Drivers in Overseas Championship Races
Starting this year, multiple manufacturers will be suppliers of engines for the IndyCar® Series. Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will equip six teams and ten machines with its 2.2-litre V-6 HI12R turbo engine as it gears up for capturing the engine manufacturer’s title.
Takuma Sato, the only Japanese driver, will compete for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in his third season of the IndyCar® Series.
American Le Mans Series (ALMS), FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)
In the LMP1 classof ALMS this year, Honda will supply the ARX-03a chassis developed by HPD and a 3.4-litre V8 LM-V8 engine to support CytoSport / Muscle Milk Racing team. In the LMP2 class, Honda will supply the 2.8-litre HR 28TT V6 twin turbo engine and the ARX-03b chassis to the Level 5 Motorsports team, and will supply the HR 28TT V6 to the Black Swan Racing® team as well.
The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) which includes the 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans) will make its debut this year. HPD will continue its support for the participation of the Strakka Racing and JRM Racing teams in the LMP1 class by equipping them with the ARX-03a chassis and the LM-V8 engines.