|Honda 2006 Motorsports Highlights|
|TOKYO, Japan, February 20, 2006 – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the key features of its 2006 motorsports program, including initiatives to promote motorsports worldwide and cultivate new talent to compete at world-class racing events.
Honda’s spirit of challenge is rooted in its motorsports activities. Constantly striving to fulfill dreams and aspirations through the ongoing challenge of leading-edge innovation, Honda aims to share dreams and excitement with its customers worldwide.
Outline of Honda Motorsports Activities
1. Motorsports Strategy
By expanding its participation in motorsports activities, Honda aims to share its dreams and objectives with customers worldwide; to take on challenges on the world stage that contribute to the development of new engineering talent; and to strengthen the Honda brand.
In motorcycle racing, Honda will strive for victory in the MotoGP—the world championship of motorcycle road racing— bringing together young talent to create a new generation of top-class teams. Honda will also seek to capture championships across the full range of categories.
In automobile racing, Honda aims to win early and to take the world championship in Formula One competition with the Honda Racing F1 Team—the first all-Honda works team since 1968. Honda will also supply engines to the new SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM team, which is making its Formula One debut this year.
Since it began participating in the IndyCar Series in 2003, Honda has captured the Triple Crown title (Driver's Championship, Manufacturer's Championship, and Rookie of the Year) for two years straight. This year, Honda will become the sole supplier of IndyCar engines, providing all IndyCar teams with V8 HI6R engines.
In the Super GT, Honda will be shooting for both individual and team titles in the Honda NSX-GT Project.
Honda will also begin supplying engines in 2006 to Formula Nippon Series teams.
2. Cultivating New Talent for the Podium at World-Class Racing Events
Honda continues to implement a long-range program aimed at developing the talented riders and drivers who will compete for success in world-class racing events.
In 2004, Honda established the Honda Racing Scholarship to foster young Japanese motorcycle riders. Shuhei Aoyama, last year's All-Japan Championship GP250cc class champion, will participate in the 250cc class of the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix this year as the third recipient of the scholarship.
Honda's auto racing activities this year include plans to begin competing in Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ). Honda also plans to further develop programs under the Honda Formula Dream Project to train drivers in all categories of racing. The Project is implemented through the Suzuka Racing School (SRS-K, SRS-F), the FCJ, the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship, and Formula Nippon, with the aim of turning out skilled young racers like Takuma Sato and Kosuke Matsuura to compete in events worldwide.
3. Expanding the Popularity of Motorsports
Suzuka Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi are to form the new company Mobility Land (provisional name) in June 2006. The new organization will be positioned to contribute even more to the development of mobility in Japan and the growth of motorsports by providing more venues and opportunities for people to watch, participate in, and enjoy premier world-class racing events.
The FIA Formula One Japan Grand Prix will be held Friday October 6 to Sunday, October 8, in this, the 20th anniversary of the event at Suzuka Circuit. And at Twin Ring Motegi, The Indy Japan 300 Mile Race, which has been bringing the spirit and the exhilaration of the Indy 500 to Japan for the past four years, will be held April 20-22, 2006; and the FIM World Championship Japan Grand Prix will be held September 22-24.
To express appreciation to Honda fans, Enjoy Honda will be held this year April 15-16 at the Suzuka Circuit, and Honda Racing Thanks Day will be held November 23 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Other events on the calendar this year include the Honda Exciting Cup One-Make Race–Integra Series, as well as various participatory events and concept meetings for Honda vehicle owners to be held throughout Japan.
Summary of Plans for Motorcycle Racing
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
In the MotoGP class of the Road Race World Championship Grand Prix (WGP), Honda plans to race six RC211V MotoGP machines and to supply engines to one team, with the aim of capturing both the riders’ and the manufacturers’ titles. Dani Pedrosa, who moves up to the MotoGP class this year after winning consecutive WGP 250cc class championships in 2004 and 2005, joins the works team of Repsol Honda Team, competing alongside Nicky Hayden, now in his fourth year as a MotoGP class rider.
In the 250cc class, Honda will field four riders and two teams with the RS250RW. Shuhei Aoyama, last year’s All-Japan Championship GP250cc class champion, will participate as the third recipient1 of the Honda Racing Scholarship, started in 2004 to foster young Japanese riders.
MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series
Honda’s participation in this year’s All-Japan Road Race Championship Series, where it captured the series titles in four classes last year for the second year in a row, will be centered on teams run by Honda dealerships and supported by Honda Motorcycle Japan. The teams will be vying to recapture the series championships in their respective categories, running a CBR1000RR in the JSB1000 class, a CBR600RR in the ST600 class, a RS250R in the GP250 class, and a RS125R in the GP125 class.
FIM Supersport World Championship Series
The Supersport World Championship Series will be supported by Honda Europe Motorcycle S.R.L., which will deploy four Honda CBR600RRs in an effort to score double titles for the fourth consecutive year.
British Superbike Championship
Due to the success of such riders as Ryuichi Kiyonari, who advanced to the No. 2 spot in the rankings with most season wins, Honda captured the manufacturer’s title in the British Superbike (BSB) last year. Honda plans to race two CBR1000RRKs, with the aim of capturing a double title in both the rider’s and the manufacturer’s categories.
FIM Motocross World Championship Series
The Motocross World Championship Series will be supported by Honda Europe Motorcycle S.R.L., which will deploy four 4-stroke CRF450Rs for the MX1*2 Class and one 2-stroke CRF250R for the MX2*3 Class, with the aim of capturing the series championship.
AMA Supercross Series
The AMA Supercross Series will have the support of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., which will provide one CR250R and four CRF450Rs for the 250cc*4 Class, and seven CRF250Rs for the 125cc*5 Class, with the aim of scoring victories in both classes.
MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship Series
In the All-Japan Motocross Championship Series, Yoshitaka Atsuta, a competitor in the World Championship until last year, has joined the works team TEAM HRC. Honda will enter three Honda CRF450R 4-stroke machines in the All-Japan Motocross Championship Series IA16 class, aiming for the championship.
FIM World Trials Championship Series
For the World Trial Championship Series, Honda will field two Montesa COTA 4RTs equipped with 4-stroke engines in a bid to win the series title in the rider’s and the manufacturer’s categories.
MFJ All-Japan Trials Championship Series
Honda riders participating in this year’s All-Japan Trials Championship Series are supported by Honda Racing Cooperation with Honda Motorcycle Japan. Teams will be vying for the series championship, running Honda RTL250Fs equipped with 4-stroke engine.
Mountain Bike (MTB) Downhill Races
UCI World Cup MTB Downhill/UCI World Championship
NORBA National Mountain Bike Series
After taking the UCI World Cup Series title in 2005 in Downhill races overseas, Honda will again race two RN01s in the UCI World Cup MTB Downhill and the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series, with its sights set on capturing the title in each series.
JCF Mountain Bike Japan Series/All-Japan Championship
After winning the series titles last year in the JCF Mountain Bike Japan Series races, Honda will enter two RN01s, the machine that has been champion for the past two years, with the aim of winning the series titles for another consecutive year.
Summary of Plans for Auto Racing
Formula One World Championship
Honda plans to pursue early victories in the 2006 Formula One season under a new system in which its Honda Racing F1 Team will operate as a single, unified all-Honda works team. The new Honda RA106 racer features a significant improvement in aerodynamic performance that combines with Honda's new RA806E engine—developed to comply with new Formula One requirements for V8 engines—to deliver superior speed, durability and reliability in a highly polished package. Honda will also supply V8 engines this season to the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM.
IRL IndyCar Series
In the IndyCar Series, where Honda has won the triple crown title (Driver's Championship, Manufacturer's Championship, and Rookie of the Year) two years running, Honda will be the sole supplier of engines to the IndyCar Series in 2006, providing all participating teams with Honda V8 H16R engines. Honda Performance Development, Inc.—a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.—will supply engines throughout the IndyCar Series as part of its continuing technical partnership with Ilmor Engineering Inc.
The Honda NSX-GT Project, in cooperation with M-TEC Co., Ltd. and Dome Co., Ltd., is fielding three teams and four cars. The V6, 3.5-liter, NA (natural aspiration) engine has been further refined and a chassis with superb cornering characteristics has been adopted in a bid to win a double title for both team and driver.
As part of its efforts to promote racing in Japan this year, Honda will supply four teams with HF386E 3-liter V8 engines for eight vehicles.
All Japan Formula 3 Championship
Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ)
To find and cultivate talented young drivers worldwide and to broaden the horizons of motorsports in Japan, Honda is providing its full support to a new Junior Formula race to begin in 2006: Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ). FCJ will become part of the “Honda Dream Project”, Honda’s new driver development program which provides opportunities for rising young stars to hone their skills in the Suzuka Racing School (SRS-K, SRS-F), FCJ, All-Japan Formula 3 Championship and Formula Nippon.
Honda will provide graduates of the SRS-F a chance to participate in FCJ on a scholarship, and FCJ racers in turn to advance on a scholarship to more advanced categories, helping foster the international careers of promising young drivers as part of a long-range program aimed at developing the talented drivers who will compete for success in world-class racing events.