Honda Racing Global Update
LONDON--March 22, 2013:
- Civic Targets World Championship
- Franchitti Wants His IndyCar Crown Back
- Yet More Sebring Success for HPD
CIVIC TARGETS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HONOURS
Honda kicks off its first-ever attack on the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the famous Monza circuit on Sunday (24 March). A two-pronged team of Civic WTCCs has completed a busy programme of pre-season developments and is now ready to contest the globetrotting 12-round series.
Run by the Italian-based Honda Racing Team JAS organisation, the two Civic WTCC will be driven by former F1 drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro. The 51-year-old Italian has a wealth of touring car history having won British, European and World Touring Car Championships in 1994, 2003 and 2009 respectively.
While somewhat newer to the dark arts of tin-top racing, Tarquini's 36-year-old Portuguese team-mate has already marked his card with four WTCC race victories when racing for previous teams.
To ensure the new team gets off to a flying start in Sunday's season opener, the two 1.6-litre, turbocharged Civic WTCCs entered the final three rounds of the 2012 championship - Monteiro claiming the car's maiden podium at Macau in November.
All 12 rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship are broadcast live on Eurosport.
FRANCHITTI WANTS HIS INDYCAR CROWN BACK!
Scottish star Dario Franchitti is all revved for yet more success when the US-based IZOD IndyCar Series kicks of with this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of St Petersberg (23-24 March) on Florida's sunshine Atlantic coast.
To date Franchitti has notched up no fewer than four IndyCar crowns in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 as well as three Indianapolis 500 victories in 2007, 2010 and 2012 - all achieved with Honda engines. It's a remarkable tally and one to which the 39-year-old is determined to add during the year ahead.
"My goals are another championship and another victory in the Indianapolis 500, and we are doing everything possible to achieve that," he said in determined fashion having only finished seventh overall last season after a slow start.
While there's a familiar feel to the 2013 IndyCar calendar with a mix of street, permanent circuit and ovals on the 19-race schedule, a few new challenges lay ahead for Franchitti and his rivals. Belle Island, Toronto and Houston all host new double-header weekends with two races each and some showdowns will now feature standing, rather than rolling, start procedures.
Around half those lining up on the 2013 IndyCar grid are Honda powered entries all armed with high-tech, turbocharged 2.2-litre V6s developed by Honda Performance Development in California. Other notables include Scott Dixon who is Franchitti's team-mate at Target Chip Ganassi, former F1 favourite Takuma Sato and Englishman Justin Wilson.
The entire 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series will broadcast to UK viewers on ESPN (Channel 417). Live coverage of the opening Honda Grand Prix of St Petersberg is from 4.15pm on Sunday afternoon.
YET MORE SEBRING SUCCESS FOR HPD
Honda has savoured its first major international motor sport success of the 2013 season at the classic 12 Hours of Sebring sportscar race in Florida, scoring a commanding one-two victory in the LMP2 class.
Californian-based Honda Performance Development (HPD) and its Honda-powered ARX prototypes totally dominated last year's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) when clinching multiple LMP1 and LMP2 titles - and now its partner teams have kept up the winning habit in the opening round of 2013's championship.
Powered by 2.8-litre, turbocharged Honda V6 engines, the pair of HPD ARX-03b prototypes entered by Level 5 Motorsports totally dominated the LMP2 category. Ryan Briscoe, Marino Franchitti and Scott Tucker finally took the spoils from the sister ARX shared by IndyCar Series Champion Ryan Hunter Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Tucker (who drove both Level 5 entries).
Honda power also set the pace among the ALMS regulars in the premier LMP1 class but the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing run HPD ARX-03c - propelled by a normally-aspirated 3.4-litre Honda V8 - eventually had to settle for second place among the points scorers and fourth overall behind the two factory Audi coupes and the leading Rebellion Racing entry.
With the dust now settling at Sebring,
the ALMS battle switches to the renowned streets of Long Beach in California on Sunday 20 April.