HPD Prepares Defense of Sports-Prototype Titles
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (February 3, 2011) - The 2010 season was the most ambitious - and successful - year for Honda Performance Development (HPD) since the company entered the sports-prototype arena in 2007. But HPD is not resting on its laurels, and has embarked upon an extensive test program of its new 2.8-liter V-6 engine, in preparation for next month's 12 Hours of Sebring and the upcoming prototype racing seasons in both Europe and North America.
Late last month, Highcroft Racing, with drivers Marino Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud, wrapped up a series of on-track tests of HPD's new HR28TT engine at Motor Sports Ranch-Houston. The two-day test at MSR followed previous multi-day tests in November and December at Carolina Motorsports Park. In addition to meeting the performance goals set by HPD, track testing also confirmed the reliability of the twin-turbo V-6, with the same engine completing a total of 2,163 miles over the three tests.
"This new V-6 twin turbo from HPD is quite amazing," Pagenaud said. "I've been part of its evolution since the first test and not only does it cover miles and miles; but also, the HPD engineers have found more torque and power at each test. This definitely is going to be a serious weapon in LMP2."
Franchitti echoed his teammate. "The Highcroft team did a first-class job of installation of the new engine, and HPD has produced a package with great drivability that is improving with every run we make."
Championships in both the Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series; victory in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; and multiple race wins in both ALMS and LMS competition made 2010 a memorable year for the racing arm of American Honda, the final season for HPD's LM V-8 as an LMP2 racing engine.
For 2011, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), rule-making body for sports- prototype competition, requires production-based engines for LMP2, to be sold or leased under a series-mandated price cap. That requirement led to development of the HR28TT, a 2.8-liter, twin-turbo V-6 utilizing Honda's exclusive engine-control system.
Multiple teams will utilize the new HPD engine in 2011, including Level 5 Motorsports, which has announced a multi-car ALMS effort. Le Mans Series class champion RML Racing is expected to defend its LMP2 crown with HPD power, along with Strakka Racing, winner of three races in 2011, including the LMP2 class at Le Mans and an overall victory at the Hungaroring.
Based on Honda's global V-6 as found in the Accord, Odyssey and other Honda/Acura models, the racing version of this engine is the result of a joint effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA).
Starting in March of last year, engine design and development engineers from HRA's Raymond, Ohio R&D Center worked with HPD race engineers to create a powerful racing engine that still meets the ACO's new, lower price targets for LMP2.
Dyno testing of the first prototype engines began last summer, with the first track test held last November 17-18 at Carolina Motorsports Park.
"Last year was incredible for HPD in sports-prototype competition," said Steve Eriksen, HPD assistant vice president. "But 2011 is a new season, with new challenges and goals. With our ambitious and successful test program for the HR28TT engine, we feel prepared for the season ahead."
Since 2007, HPD has provided engines to prototype-class teams in the American Le Mans Series, and scored numerous victories, beginning with an LMP2 class win in HPD's inaugural ALMS race at Sebring in 2007. HPD was the first manufacturer to score ALMS class wins in both LMP1 and LMP2 on the same weekend with its wins at St. Petersburg in 2009.
HPD won both the LMP1 and LMP2 Manufacturers' Championships in 2009 under the Acura banner, becoming the first ALMS manufacturer to do so. In 2010, HPD claimed the combined LMP class championships for engine manufacturers and chassis constructors. For the second consecutive year, HPD also clinched the 2010 Michelin Green X Challenge environmental award for prototypes.
In LMS competition, RML and Strakka finished 1-2 in the Le Mans Series' LMP2 category, combining for four class wins during the five-race season. Strakka also claimed LMP2 honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, finished fifth overall and established a new LMP2 record for distance covered in the endurance racing classic, in HPD's first appearance at the famed event.