IRL: Series names Honda as sole engine supplier

HONDA RACING INDY V-8 ENGINE TO BE SOLE INDYCAR SERIES POWERPLANT BEGINNING IN 2006 INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005 -- The Indy Racing League and Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., announced...

HONDA RACING INDY V-8 ENGINE TO BE SOLE INDYCAR SERIES POWERPLANT BEGINNING IN 2006

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005 -- The Indy Racing League and Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., announced the IRL IndyCar® Series will field Honda Racing Indy V-8 engines solely beginning with the 2006 season.

The move to a single engine for 2006 was announced by Brian Barnhart, president & chief operating officer for the Indy Racing League, and Robert Clarke, president of HPD.

In making the announcement, Barnhart pointed to Honda's renewed commitment to the IndyCar Series and decisions made individually by IndyCar Series teams to switch over to Honda as the primary reasons for the single engine program. Further, Barnhart noted that by accelerating the Honda single-supplier agreement, it would generate cost savings for teams.

The single engine program will result in immediate cost savings for teams on engine agreements for 2006, and there will be even more cost savings on engine supply beginning in 2007.

"Since 2000, we have offered some of the most competitive racing in the world under an exclusive tire arrangement with Firestone," Barnhart said. "Taking our engine program to a single format, we believe will take IndyCar Series racing to an entirely new level of competition beginning in 2006.

"We appreciate the enthusiasm shown and work done by Honda to ensure it has the ability to supply the entire IndyCar Series field. Robert Clarke and everyone at HPD have been true partners during this process."

The announcement is the culmination of negotiations initiated by the IndyCar Series in July when it became apparent that it would be in the best interests of both Toyota and the IRL to reach an agreement allowing Toyota to leave the series one year early.

"We truly appreciate Toyota's participation and service in the IndyCar Series," Barnhart said. "They have been great partners to the series both on and off the race track."

In October, HPD renewed its commitment as an engine supplier, with or without competition from other auto manufacturers, in the IndyCar Series through the 2009 season. Honda cited the IndyCar Series as a platform with technical challenges for its engineers and a showcase for Honda products in the premier open-wheel racing series in the United States for its decision.

"Providing engines for the entire IndyCar Series field is a dramatically different role for Honda from that as one competitor in a multi-manufacturer championship," Clarke said. "It is an opportunity that provides numerous new challenges, not only for HPD, but for several departments at American Honda as well.

"Certainly, manufacturing and preparing sufficient primary and backup engines for all 33 starters at the Indianapolis 500 will be a major effort," Clarke added, "and it is vitally important, given our new circumstances, that we treat and care for all IndyCar Series competitors equally. We are confident of meeting this need and look forward to working with the IRL to grow the IndyCar Series in the seasons to come."

Honda's renewed commitment to the IndyCar Series also includes its successful and mutually beneficial technical relationship with Ilmor Engineering. The two will continue working together for on-going Research and Development, engine maintenance and trackside support for the Honda Indy V-8 racing engine.

"It's clear Honda is committed to working with the league as a partner to continue building value in the IndyCar Series," Barnhart said. "As we look ahead to the 2006 season, there will be minimal changes to the technical specifications of the Honda Racing Indy V-8, and that is a tribute to the specs we have now. The reliability and performance we have witnessed has been outstanding, and as we move forward cost, availability and stability will be our priority."

Honda debuted in the IndyCar Series in 2003 and has compiled an enviable record of achievements in concert with its drivers and teams, including the 2004 and 2005 Manufacturers' championship; a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs (Buddy Rice in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005); two Drivers' Championships (Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Wheldon in 2005); three Bombardier Rookie of the Year awards (Wheldon in 2003, Kosuke Matsuura in 2004 and Danica Patrick in 2005); and a total of 28 IndyCar Series race victories.

Based in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD recently moved in to a new 124,000-square-foot headquarters that more than triples its previous space. The building provides Honda complete design, manufacturing and R&D capabilities.

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