The final race of the 2002 Formula One World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix, is Honda's home nation Grand Prix and, as before, has added significance for the manufacturer as it fittingly takes place at the company's own racetrack, Suzuka.
The final race of the 2002 Formula One World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix, is Honda's home nation Grand Prix and, as before, has added significance for the manufacturer as it fittingly takes place at the company's own racetrack, Suzuka. Suzuka Circuit was built by Honda over 40 years ago and was the first full-scale race track in Japan. It exists thanks largely to the enthusiasm for motor sports of the company's founder, Soichiro Honda, who maintained that racing is indispensable for automobile development.
His now legendary observation, "Without racing, there is no Honda" has become a touchstone for the world's largest engine manufacturer, whose products range from cars, motorcycles and power equipment to marine, energy and lawn and garden, and which also supplies engines to original equipment manufacturers. Such commitment is evident through the plethora of two and four wheeled racing programmes Honda has engaged in over the years.
The Japanese Grand Prix marks the culmination of Honda's unique twin-team supply for the past two years of its partner teams, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda and DHL Jordan Honda. Both teams head to Honda's homeground aiming to end the season on a high note, with the added benefit of further progressions on the RA002E engine. During 2002 Honda has made steady progress with the engine and the development programme has continued right up until the last race of the year.
Suzuka is the home of Honda's Racing School whose graduates include Takuma Sato and Kosuke Matsuura, who is currently second in the German Formula Three Championship. In 1999 Honda established the Formula Dream category, which is a step up from the Suzuka Racing School, and 2002 marks the fourth consecutive year that a round of the Formula Dream series will be run as a support race at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The FD-99 racing cars, which are designed and built by Dome, are of equal specification and are powered by a 2.2 litre Mugen-tuned Honda engine, producing approximately 220 bhp. Honda is also staging the inaugural Integra Type-R Challenge Cup at Suzuka, replacing the Honda Civic One-make race series which ended its 21 year run at last year's Japanese Grand Prix. The top eight drivers from each of the five regional races held in Japan during the year have been invited to compete in the race, which will be held before the Grand Prix on Sunday.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Race and Test Team Manager, Honda Racing Development
"This year has seen an aggressive development programme for the RA002E engine and we've continued that right up until the last race. We're running a higher spec unit at the Japanese Grand Prix and I'm optimistic that all four Honda-powered drivers will run competitively - I hope we'll be able to end the 2002 season on a high. We're really looking forward to racing in front of our home crowd at Suzuka and I want to give the local fans something to cheer about."