Honda (HPD) press release
Honda Anticipates Exciting 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season
TORRANCE, Calif. (March 19, 2012) – A 10-driver lineup that has combined for three Indianapolis 500 victories, six IZOD IndyCar Series championships – including the last five drivers’ championships in succession – and 65 IndyCar race wins will lead the Honda effort in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series.
After six years of Honda supplying engines to the full IndyCar Series field and achieving an unparalleled record of equal performance and reliability, manufacturer competition makes a welcome return to the IndyCar Series in 2012, with Chevrolet and Lotus joining Honda to supply new, turbocharged V-6 racing engines when the season opens at this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“We’re encouraged by the performance of the new Honda Indy V-6 and excited about the return of competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Steve Eriksen, Vice President of Honda Performance Development (HPD). “We believe we have a great lineup of teams and drivers, including a good balance of proven champions, race winners, and promising new stars. We’re looking forward to the start of the 2012 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, and taking on the challenges from Chevrolet and Lotus.”
Six teams will utilize the all-new Honda Indy V-6 engine, which is designed, manufactured, developed and maintained by HPD, the racing arm of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
The Chip Ganassi Racing organization serves as Honda’s anchor team, and is led by three-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti, Honda’s most successful driver in IndyCar competition with 30 race wins, two Indianapolis 500 victories and four IZOD IndyCar Series championships, starting in 2007 with Andretti Green Racing, and from 2009-2011 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. All of Franchitti’s IndyCar successes have come with Honda power, making him the manufacturer’s most decorated driver in North American open-wheel racing.
Franchitti is partnered by two-time series champion Scott Dixon, who also includes an Indianapolis 500 victory (2008) among in his 27 race wins. Dixon’s series championship also came in 2008, making the Ganassi organization the team to beat for the past four seasons.
In 2011, a second two-car Ganassi team began operations, featuring Graham Rahal, winner of the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, partnered with promising rookie and Indy Lights graduate Charlie Kimball. Both young American racers return to Ganassi and Honda in 2012.
With six career IndyCar victories to his name, veteran Justin Wilson returns to Dale Coyne Racing this year, partnered by fellow Englishman and second-year IndyCar driver James Jakes.
Mike Conway, winner of the Long Beach race in 2011, moves to Indy legend A.J. Foyt’s team in 2012 as the three-year veteran seeks to add to his victory tally. Takuma Sato, the pole qualifier at Iowa last year, proved capable of regularly challenging for race wins in 2011 and will lead the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing effort for Honda this season.
A trio of promising rookies rounds out the 2012 Honda IndyCar driver lineup. Already a champion in sports-car racing and a Champ Car veteran, Simon Pagenaud has performed impressively in testing for Schmidt Hamilton Racing. Reigning Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden will lead the attack for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Beginning at the Indianapolis 500, Luca Filippi, an Italian veteran of the European GP2 championship series, will join Sato at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to complete the 2012 season.
In off-the-track developments for 2012, on April 1, HPD President Erik Berkman, who also served as Vice President of Corporate Planning and Logistics for American Honda, will become president of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. In his new role, Berkman will be responsible for all North American new-vehicle design and development, including the all-new Acura NSX. He will succeed Hiroshi Takemura, who will return to Honda Motor in Japan as Deputy Director of Automobile Operations.
Art St. Cyr will succeed Berkman in both of his current roles. St. Cyr comes to HPD from Honda R&D, where he has served most recently as Chief Engineer. St. Cyr is a 1988 graduate of the University of California-Davis, with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He joined Honda upon graduation and, beginning in 1991, spent two years at Honda’s R&D Center in Tochigi, Japan, where he worked on chassis development of the original Acura NSX and the 1991 Acura Legend.
More recently, St. Cyr took responsibility for the complete vehicle performance of Honda R&D Americas’ first SUV development, the 2001 Acura MDX. St. Cyr performed the same duties in the development of Honda’s innovative Element, which debuted in 2003, and the all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey.
An additional personnel move finds David Heath, Senior Manager of Auto Shows and Events, taking over supervision of the American Honda Motorsports Department, effective with the March 1, 2012 retirement of Kurt Antonius, Assistant Vice President of Public Relations.
Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994, and has played an active role in the growth of the IZOD IndyCar Series – as both a Manufacturers' Championship competitor and single engine supplier – since joining the series in 2003.
The company scored its first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004 with Buddy Rice; Manufacturers' Championships in 2004 and '05; and became engine supplier to the entire IZOD IndyCar Series in 2006. Honda supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year from 2006-2011, and for a record-six consecutive years -- and the only six times in event history – the ‘500’ ran without a single engine failure. The 2010 Indianapolis 500, won by Dario Franchitti, marked Honda's 100th race win as a manufacturer and engine supplier in IZOD IndyCar Series competition.
In addition to its efforts in Indy car racing, HPD spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2011 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and a class victory at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans. HPD offers a line of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; for professional, amateur and entry-level efforts.