Honda Begins A New Challenge in the IRL

2/26/2003 6:56:42 PM

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. enters Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series for the 2003 season, beginning a new era of competition for the manufacturer. Honda's racing subsidiary, Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD) of Santa Clarita, California, will lead the effort in partnership with Ilmor Engineering Inc., of Plymouth, Michigan.

HPD and Ilmor will work together as technical partners to design, develop and produce engines for the 2003 season. HPD and Ilmor also will provide trackside support and engine rebuilding services to teams using the newly developed Honda HI3R Indy V-8 engine.

"This is an exciting new chapter in Honda's racing history, giving Honda the opportunity to compete in the challenging IRL series and the famous Indianapolis 500 race, while at the same time expanding HPD's abilities as a true racing engine development company," said Robert Clarke, general manager of HPD. "Competing in the IRL series, with its rules to intentionally limit the use of high-cost technology and thus provide more parity in the racing field, will give Honda a new competitive experience and the fans more exciting racing."

Ilmor, a sister company to Ilmor Engineering, Ltd., of Brixworth, England, will use a combination of engineering resources in the U.S., a special projects group in the UK and a new, dedicated manufacturing plant to support the project.

"Our technical relationship with Ilmor, an international racing engine company with a distinguished record in designing and developing competitive racing engines, will allow us to develop the all-new 3.5 liter, normally aspirated HI3R V-8 engine for the 2003 IRL racing season," said Clarke.

Honda R&D and HPD jointly developed engines for the CART racing series from 1994 to 2002, with Honda R&D handling many of those responsibilities. This change will mean that IndyCar engine R&D functions now will be turned over to HPD. The shift will require HPD to further develop its in-house design, development and manufacturing expertise and capacity. "We have always said that racing is an important training tool for our engineers and these new responsibilities will certainly prove to be beneficial for them," said Clarke.

Honda Performance Development, Inc. was founded in 1993 and won 65 CART races between 1994 and 2002, including four CART Manufacturers' Championships (1996, 1998, 1999, 2001). The Honda Turbo V-8 also powered six consecutive CART World Series Drivers' Champions from 1996-2001 (Jimmy Vasser 1996, Alex Zanardi 1997-'98, Juan Pablo Montoya 1999, and Gil de Ferran 2000-2001).