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|Honda 2007 Motorsports Highlights|
|TOKYO, Japan, February 19, 2007– Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the key features of its 2007 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 in 2007
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 has set its sights on winning, for the second year in a row, the three championship titles for rider, manufacturer and team in the Road Racing World Championship MotoGP class, the top class of world championship road racing, as well as on securing championships in other categories of road racing and in each series of motocross, trial and mountain bike downhill racing.
In automobile racing, with the Honda Racing F1 Team, which last year became the first all-Honda works team to win a championship in 39 years in Formula One competition, Honda aims to step up on the podium many more times and to be in contention for the constructor’s championship title this year. Honda will also again provide support this year to the Super Aguri F1 Team, by supplying engines among other things.
As for the IndyCar Series, in which Honda began participating in 2003 and for which Honda has been the sole supplier of engines since last year, the regulations were changed so that 100% ethanol fuel is to be used. Honda will provide all IndyCar teams with V8 HI7R engines again this season. Honda will also start competing in the LMP 2 Class of the American Le Mans Series this year with a car equipped with the Acura LM V-8 engine, the first result of the independent design and development work carried out by Honda Performance Development, Inc., a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
In the Super GT, Honda added a new team with one car under the Honda NSX-GT Project, and five teams with five cars each aim to capture the double titles of both the individual and team championships.
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 motorcycle racing, Shuhei Aoyama, the third recipient of the Honda Racing Scholarship, started in 2004 to foster young Japanese rider talent, will compete again this year in the 250cc class of the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix.
As part of its auto racing activities, Honda will promote organized programs for fostering young talent under the Honda Formula Dream Project, Honda’s overall program for nurturing racing drivers. The project is implemented through Suzuka Racing School (SRS-K, SRS-F), Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ), the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship, and Formula Nippon, with the objective of turning out skilled young racers able to follow in the footsteps of such drivers as Takuma Sato and Kosuke Matsuura to compete in events worldwide. This year, Yuki Nakayama, a 2005 graduate of SRS-F who placed 4th in the 2006 FCJ rankings, will move up a step to the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship racing.
Honda will also provide support to Hideki Muto, the 2003 Formula Dream champion and 2006 entrant in the Formula Nippon and Super GT, who will compete in the Indy Pro Series from 2007 as a team member of SUPER AGURI Panther Racing.
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. Honda will begin full-scale renovation work on the pits and paddocks of the Suzuka Circuit racing course, continue to host premier world-class racing events and proactively create venues and opportunities for people to watch, participate in, and enjoy racing and other activities firsthand. In this way, we aim to continue contributing to the further growth of motorsports in Japan. 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 five years, will be held April 19-21, 2007; and the FIM World Championship Japan Grand Prix will be held September 21-23.
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 Racing World Championship Grand Prix (WGP), Honda plans to race six of the newly developed RC212V MotoGP machines and to supply engines to one team, with the aim of capturing all three titles for the second year in a row, under the new 800cc engine displacement regulations.
Just as in the last season, riding for the Repsol Honda works team will be Nicky Hayden, the winner of last year’s series championship, and Daniel Pedrosa, who placed fifth .
In the 250cc class, Honda will field four riders and two teams on the RS250RW, with the aim of capturing the title.
MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series
From this year, the factory team will be allowed to take part in only the JSB1000 class. In order to further increase opportunities for people to watch and enjoy the races, Honda will enter the JSB1000 class as TEAM HRC.
Honda Motorcycle Japan Co., Ltd. will cooperate with Honda Racing Corporation and engineers at other Honda group companies to provide support to teams and riders, centered on the teams run by Honda dealerships taking part in each of the JSB1000, GP250, GP125 and ST600 classes.
British Superbike (BSB) Championship
Ryuichi Kiyonari, who won the series championship for the first time last year, will aim to repeat his success.
Honda plans to race two CBR1000RRK, with the goal of capturing a double title in the rider’s and the manufacturer’s categories.
MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship Series
The works team Team HRC will be fighting to capture the title for the second season in a row in the IA1 class (engine displacement of 450cc or less for 4-stroke machines).
Yu Hirata joined the team in the IA2 class (engine displacement of 250cc or less for 4-stroke machines) and his sights are set on the championship.
FIM World Trials Championship Series
For the FIM World Trials Championship Series, Honda will run three of Montesa COTA 4RT equipped with 4-stroke engines, aiming to recapture both the riders’ and the manufacturers’ titles.
MFJ All-Japan Trials Championship Series
Honda riders participating in this year’s All-Japan Trials Championship Series are actively supported by Honda Racing Corporation. Teams will be vying for the series championship, running number of Honda RTL250F equipped with 4-stroke engines for the third year in a row.
[Mountain Bike (MTB) Downhill Races]
UCI World Cup Downhill / UCI World Championship
Honda plans to run three RN01 in the two main World Cup-class races in front of tens of thousands of spectators, battling to recapture the title in each series.
JCF Mountain Bike Japan Series / All-Japan Championship
Honda will supply the RN01 to two teams and aim to retake the championship in the JCF Mountain Bike Japan Series and win the title in the All Japan Championship for the second year in a row.
Summary of Plans for Auto Racing
Formula One World Championship
Honda will continue to compete in the 2007 Formula One season with a system where the Honda Racing F1 Team operates as a single, unified all-Honda works team. Our goal is to climb up on the podium many more times, battling for the constructor’s championship title. The new Honda RA107 racer features a significant improvement in aerodynamic performance that combines with Honda's new RA807E 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 to the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM again this season.
IRL IndyCar Series
Honda Performance Development, Inc., a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will again support the IndyCar Series this year as the sole engine supplier. Due to a change in the regulations, 100% ethanol fuel will be used starting this year, a switch from the formula of 90% methanol and 10% ethanol used until last season. Engine displacement will also increase to 3500cc. Honda will provide all IndyCar teams with V8 HI7R engines, which fully comply with the new regulations.
American Le Mans Series
Honda will participate in the LMP 2 Class, the prototype category, this year, using cars equipped with the Acura LM V-8 engine, the first racing engine independently designed and developed by one of Honda’s overseas subsidiaries, Honda Performance Development, Inc., a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
The Honda NSX-GT Project, in cooperation with M-TEC Co., Ltd. and Dome Co., Ltd., is fielding five teams and five cars. The V6, 3.5-liter, NA (natural aspiration) engine has been further refined, and using the newly developed chassis with improved stiffness and aerodynamic performance, Honda is focused on winning the two titles in the team and driver championships.
Honda will again supply four teams with HF386E 3-liter V8 engines this year as part of its efforts to promote racing in Japan.
All Japan Formula 3 Championship
Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ)
To find and cultivate excellent young drivers capable of racing on the global level and to broaden the horizons of motorsports in Japan by fostering talent for the future, Honda will continue its support of Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ), a new Junior Formula race started in 2006.