Honda 2016 Motorsports Program Overview
TOKYO, Feb, 12 2016; Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced plans for its motorsports activities for the 2016 season and initiatives to expand the popularity of motorsports.
Since the days of its founding, Honda has always been engaged in motorsports activities in pursuit of being the best in the world. While taking on continuous challenges toward victories and attaining high goals, Honda strives to share joys with its customers all around the world under the corporate slogan of "The Power of Dreams". Honda will continue conducting motorsports activities throughout 2016 in a way that will bring fun and excitement to its fans and customers.
I. 2016 Motorsports Activities and Teams
1. Motorcycle activities
In the MotoGP, the premier class of the FIM(1) Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Series, Marc Marquez, who won the championship for two consecutive seasons (2013 and 2014) and Dani Pedrosa, a11-year veteran in this class, will continue to race for Repsol Honda Team, a Honda factory team(2), riding the 2016 model of the RC213V works machine, with a target to regain the championship title in the 2016 season. In addition, three more riders will compete in the MotoGP class this year, namely Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Jack Miller (Marc VDS Racing Team) and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS). With these four teams and 5 riders, Honda will strive to regain the MotoGP "Triple Crown" - rider, constructor and team championships. In the Moto3 class, where Honda won the championship title last season, Honda will supply 11 units of its 2016 model of the NSF250RW works machine and vie for the riders' championship for the third consecutive year.
In the FIM Trial World Championship Series (WCT), as with last year, Toni Bou, the reigning champion for the last nine seasons, Takahisa Fujinami, a 21-year veteran in WCT who will celebrate his 300th race this year, and Jaime Busto who made excellent progress last season will race for Repsol Honda Team, a Honda factory team, riding the COTA4RT works machine, while aiming to win the riders' championship and the constructors' title for the 11th consecutive year.
In the MXGP (450cc) class, the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship, Gautier Paulin and Evgeny Bobryshev, who ranked second and third for the 2015 season, respectively, will race for Team HRC, Honda's factory team. In addition, Tim Gajser who won the MX2 class championship last season will also race in MXGP class this year for Team Honda Gariboldi Racing. All three riders will ride the 2016 model of the CRF450RW works machine and vie for the 2016 championship title. Moreover, Kei Yamamoto, a contract rider of HRC, will also race in the MXGP class for Team Honda Redmoto Assomotor riding CRF450R. In the MX2 (250cc) class, where Honda won the championship title last season, 19-year-old Jorge Zaragoza will race for Honda Gariboldi, the 2015 MX2 champion team, riding CRF250RW works machine.
In the 450SX (450cc) class of the AMA(3) Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Cole Seely who won one race in the 2015 season, despite the fact that it was his first year competing in this class, and Trey Canard who won two races but struggled with an injury last season will race with the CRF450R for Team Honda HRC, Honda's factory team operated by American Honda Motor Co., Inc., a Honda subsidiary in the U.S.
In the FIM Superbike World Championship Series (WSB), Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP champion, and Michael van der Mark will race with the CBR1000RR for Honda World Superbike Team supported by Honda Motor Europe Ltd., a Honda subsidiary in the U.K. Moreover, in the FIM Supersport World Championship Series (WSS), Kyle Smith, Luke Stapleford, Hikari Okubo, Stefan Hill will race for CIA Landlord Insurance Honda, Patrick Jacobsen will race for Honda World Supersport Team and Federico Caricasulo will race for Bardahl Evan Bros Honda riding the CBR600RR.
In the 2016 Suzuka 8hours Endurance Road Race, FIM Endurance World Championship 3rd Round, Honda will strive to regain the victory by selecting riders from among Honda riders who compete in the world and regional championships. (Details will be announced as soon as determined.)
In the JSB1000 class of the MFJ(4) All-Japan Road Race Championship Series, Takumi Takahashi and Kosuke Akiyoshi, HRC's contract test riders, will race for their respective team, namely MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO and au&Teluru Kohara RT. In addition, Tatsuya Yamaguchi (TOHO Racing) and Kazuma Watanabe (FCC TSR Teluru) will continue competing in this class this year, and Yuki Takahashi (MORIWAKI RACING) who won the J-GP2 championship last year will enter into this class this year. All these riders will be riding the CBR1000RR.
In the IA1 (450cc) class of the MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship Series, Akira Narita, 10-time champion in this class, will race for Team HRC, Honda's factory team, riding the CRF450RW works machine and strive to win back the championship title. In the IA2 (250cc) class, where Toshiki Tomita from Team HRC won the championship last season, Chihiro Notsuka who ranked second last season and will join Honda this year and vie for two consecutive wins for Honda, riding the CRF250RW works machine.
In the IAS class of the MFJ All-Japan Trial Championship Series, Tomoyuki Ogawa, a HRC contract test rider who won his fifth championship title last year, will race for HRC CLUB MITANI riding the RTL300R and vie for his sixth and fourth consecutive championship title.
2. Automobile activities
Honda will continue competing in the FIA(5) Formula One World Championship (F1) as a power unit supplier for the McLaren-Honda, which will again enter two machines driven by Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
In the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), Honda will continue providing the Civic WTCC equipped with a 1.6-liter direct injection turbo engine. Rob Huff, the 2012 WTCC champion, will join Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team, a Honda factory team, as well as Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz.
In the GT500 class of the SUPER GT Series, as with last year, Honda will compete with 5 teams/5 machines. Honda will modify the powertrain concept of the NSX CONCEPT-GT and strive to capture the title with its 2.0-liter, direct-injected and turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine without a hybrid system.
For the Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship, Honda will continue supplying the HR-414E, a 2.0-liter, inline, 4-cylinder, direct injection turbo engine with enhanced thermal efficiency. With the addition of Stoffel Vandoorne, the third driver of McLaren-Honda, to DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING, Honda will strive to capture the dual titles of drivers' and team championships with its 5 teams/8 machines.
In the IndyCar(R) Series in North America, where the 100th running of the Indy 500 will take place this year, Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will supply HI16TT, 2.2-liter V6 twin turbo engines for the 11 machines raced by 6 teams. As with last year, Takuma Sato, now in his seventh season, will compete for A.J. Foyt Racing.
II. Fostering World-class Riders and Drivers in Motorsports
In road racing, in conjunction with Honda?s racing activities in Asia where people's interest in motorcycle racing is growing rapidly, Honda strives to help young riders in this region to tackle the challenge of competing in the Road Racing World Championship Series and realize their dreams. Toward this end, Honda will continue its active support of the Asia Dream Cup (ADC), a part of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship Series (ARRC), as well as the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup (SAATC) hosted by Dorna Sports, S.L., which also hosts MotoGP, as these races are designed to identify promising riders and produce future grand prix riders from Asian countries including Japan. Moreover, Honda also supports the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship, the destination for riders stepping up from the ADC and SAATC, and IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia which will compete in the Moto2 class of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Series. Furthermore, Honda Team Asia which will begin competing in the Moto3 this year will welcome Hiroki Ono, 2013 ADC champion and second year Moto3 rider, who will be paired with Khairul Idham Pawi, who perform brilliantly in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship.
In motocross racing, Honda continues to host training camps in Japan for team riders competing in the MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship Series, and also conducts a program for fostering talent by providing opportunities for young riders with future potential to join a training camp in the U.S. and compete in MXGP races. Moreover, Honda will strive to foster another world-class rider by having Toshiki Tomita, one of the HRC contract riders and a MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship IA2 (250cc class) champion, race in the AMA Motocross Championship Series (MX450).
For auto racing, Honda has been operating Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP), a program designed to find and foster talented young drivers who will play active roles in the world of motorsports.
In the GP2 Series(6), which is being recognized as a gateway to the F1, Nobuharu Matsushita will compete again this year with ART Grand Prix. In the GP3 Series(7), Nirei Fukuzumi who competed in the All-Japan Formula Three Championship last year will compete for the first time. Honda's Participation in GP2 Series and GP3 Series is a coordinated project with McLaren Racing, through which Honda will foster Japanese drivers who can compete in the world-class races.
In Japan, Honda will continue supporting drivers who compete in the All-Japan Formula Three Championship and the FIA-F4 Japanese Championship(8), a formula race intended for junior drivers, which are an excellent opportunity to foster young and talented drivers who play active roles in the world of motorsports.
III. Honda initiatives to expand popularity of motorsports
Honda has been making active efforts to expand the popularity of motorsports. In order to convey the fascination of motorsports to a broader range of people, Honda has been conducting various events and activities including ones that can be enjoyed more casually by those people who are not yet so familiar with motorsports.
1. NSF100 HRC Trophy, CBR250R Dream Cup and HRC and NSF250R Challenge
The NSF100 HRC Trophy, held since 2006 at over 20 circuits throughout Japan, is a one-make race featuring the NSF100 machine developed exclusively for racing. The race, which marks its 11th season this year, is recognized as a gateway to success for junior riders.
CBR250R Dream Cup is a one-make race featuring the CBR250R, a mass-market Honda motorcycle model, and has been held since 2012 at circuits throughout Japan. In 2014, a new class was added to encourage entrants with no formal racing experience. This new class, together with the original class for experienced riders, now constitutes the two classes of the Dream Cup.
Moreover, since 2015, Honda has been hosting the HRC NSF250R Challenge which features the NSF250R, a mass-market Honda road racer model. The Japanese local championship for this race is held together with the race in the J-GP3 class at each circuit where J-GP3 is held. Modifications to the standard vehicle (HRC factory spec) are not allowed, which helps to curb the running cost, thereby enabling a full-fledged racing experience at a lower cost.
Riders who rank high in regional preliminary races held in local circuits will win admittance to the Grand Championships of respective events held at Suzuka Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi. HRC will continue supporting these programs, while making these racing machines available in the market.
2. Honda Sports & Eco Program
In 2012, Mobilityland Corporation and M-TEC Co., Ltd jointly started the Honda Sports & Eco Program, a participatory motorsports program, under the theme of "eco-friendly sports driving." This program is designed to provide participants with a lighthearted experience of enjoying the fun of "driving, upskilling and competing," while pushing the limits of eco-performance behind the wheel of a Honda CR-Z with racing specifications provided to each participant through the program, toward the ultimate goal of promoting coexistence of the environment and sports driving. The program has been providing a four-step school program which enables motorsports beginners to strive for their racing debut with peace of mind as well as a five-times-a year racing program for all levels of drivers. Moreover, the price structure of this program allows more people, including beginners and skilled sports drivers alike, to casually experience motorsports, making the program even more attractive to everyone.
3. The 1.5 Challenge Cup
Starting this season, the FIT 1.5 Challenge Cup, a one-make race featuring Fit, hosted by Mobilityland Corporation will be upgraded to a quasi-domestic rank race approved by the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF). As a result, the title of "Suzuka Touring Car Championship" and "Motegi/Sugo Touring Car Championship" will be added to the race name FIT 1.5 Challenge Cup for each event in each respective location.
4. N-ONE OWNERS' CUP
N-ONE OWNERS? CUP is a participatory motorsports program that utilizes the N-ONE mini-vehicle that has proven popular with a large number of customers. With the aim of letting many motorsports fans including racing beginners actively take part, the N-ONE OWNERS' CUP started in 2014, taking the form of a sprint race with commercially available vehicles licensed for public roads. With this existing concept that has proven popular, this motorsports event will again be held at six circuits spread around Japan: Suzuka Circuit, Twin Ring Motegi, Okayama International Circuit, Fuji Speedway, Autopolis International Racing Course, and Sportsland SUGO. A total of 14 races at these circuits are planned for this season, with more extensive support provided to racing beginners.
5. Honda Eco Mileage Challenge 2016
Since 1981, Honda has hosted the Honda Eco Mileage Challenge, an event focused on the environment. Participants combine their creativity, freewheeling thinking and technology to create their own handcrafted vehicles, and then compete to see how far they can travel on one liter of fuel. This event will mark its 36th year in 2016, and the cumulative number of teams participated since 1981 has exceeded 13,000 teams. The Honda Eco Mileage Challenge is now held not only in Japan but also in Thailand, China and Vietnam.
6. Enjoy Honda 2016
With the aim of providing more opportunities for people to watch, participate in and enjoy activities related to Honda motorcycles, automobiles, and power products, the Enjoy Honda program will be held again this year as a fan appreciation event. In 2016, Enjoy Honda events will be held at eight venues: Kumamoto, Mie, Hokkaido, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Miyagi, Hiroshima, plus a new venue in Kagawa Prefecture.
The events in Mie and Tochigi will be held at Suzuka Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi respectively, on the day when the following event will be held: Suzuka 2&4 Races (with concurrent races of Round 2 of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series and Round 1 of the Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship) at Suzuka Circuit, and Motegi 2&4 Races (with concurrent races of Round 6 of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series and Round 4 of the Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship) at Twin Ring Motegi. Furthermore, the Enjoy Honda 2016 also will include the display of Honda motorcycles, automobiles, and power products, as well as various events including parent-and-child motorcycle lessons, live demonstrations of ASIMO and UNI-CUB and a trial bike show(9).
(1) FIM: Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (2) Factory team (also known as "works team"): a team managed directly by the manufacturer that creates the racing machine. For Honda, teams operated by Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) are factory teams of Honda. (3) AMA: American Motorcyclist Association (4) MFJ: Motorcycle Federation of Japan (5) FIA: Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (6) The GP2 Series is a category positioned as a gateway to F1. GP2 Series races are held internationally, mostly in Europe, as support races for F1. Past GP2 Series champions have moved on to further success at F1. (7) Most GP3 Series races are held concurrently with GP2 Series races as support race for F1. Regulations and manufacturers of GP2 machines are different from those of GP2 machines. (8) The FIA-F4 is a new category established in 2015 by FIA, with the major purpose of fostering young drivers who can aim to move up from cart racing to the F3 class. FIA will strive to evolve this category in a greater number of countries around the world. (9) The actual program will differ according to venue. For more details, visit the official Enjoy Honda website at http://www.honda.co.jp/enjoyhonda/ (Japanese only).