|Honda Announces 2008 Motor Sports Highlights|
|TOKYO, Japan, February 21, 2008– Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the key features of its 2008 motor sports program including its motor sports strategy, and initiatives to cultivate new talent to claim the podium at world-class racing events and expand the popularity of motor sports, as outlined below.
Honda’s spirit of challenge is rooted in its motor sports activities. By constantly striving to fulfill its own dreams and aspirations through ongoing challenges, Honda aims to share dreams and excitement with its customers.
Outline of Honda Motorsports Activities in 2008
1. Motorsports Strategy
In motorcycle racing, Honda has set its sights on recapturing the three championship titles for rider, manufacture and team in the Road Racing World Championship MotoGP class, the top class of world championship road racing. In addition, Honda is aiming to secure championships in other categories of road racing and in each of the motocross and trial racing series.
In automobile racing, with a new structure for the Honda Racing F1 Team, Honda will continue it’s challenge for the Formula One World Championship.
As for the IRL IndyCar Series, Honda began participating in 2003 and since 2006, the company has been the sole supplier of engines. This year, once again, Honda will provide all IndyCar teams with V8 HI8R engines running on 100% ethanol fuel. And for the second year, Honda will compete in the American Le Mans Series, with a car equipped with the Acura LM V-8 engine.
In the Super GT, with five teams with five cars under the Honda NSX-GT Project, Honda is focused on taking the double titles of individual and team championships for the second year in a row.
2. Cultivating New Talent to Claim the Podium at World-class Racing Events
Honda continues to implement a long-range program to foster talented riders and drivers who will compete for success in world-class racing events.
In motorcycle racing, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Yuki Takahashi and Shuhei Aoyama will compete in world-championship races, having benefited from training at the Suzuka Circuit Racing School or from the Honda Racing Scholarship, granted to foster young Japanese rider talent.
As part of its auto racing activities, Honda will promote organized programs for fostering young talent under the Honda Formula Dream Project. The project is implemented through Suzuka Circuit 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 compete in racing events worldwide.
This year, Hideki Mutoh, the 2003 Formula Dream champion and 2nd in the 2007 Indy Pro Series, will compete in the IRL IndyCar Series as a member of Andretti Green Racing.
3. Expanding the Popularity of Motorsports
Mobilityland Corporation will continue to host racing events and actively create venues and opportunities for people to watch, participate in and enjoy racing with the aim of contributing to the further growth of motor sports in Japan. At Twin Ring Motegi, the Indy Japan 300 Mile Race will be held on April 17–19 while the FIM Road Racing World Championship Japan Grand Prix will be held on September 26–28. In addition, full-scale renovation work is getting underway on the pits and paddocks at the Suzuka Circuit racing course.
To express appreciation to Honda fans, Enjoy Honda Suzuka will be held this year on May 10–11 at Suzuka Circuit, and Enjoy Honda (Honda Racing Thanks Day) will be held on November 24 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Other events on the calendar this year include the Honda Exciting Cup One-Make Race–Civic Series as well as various participatory events and driving meetings for Honda vehicle owners to be held throughout Japan.
Outline of Motorcycle Racing PlansRoad Race
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 further refined RC212V MotoGP machines, with the aim of recapturing all three titles.
Just as in last season, riding for the Repsol Honda works team will be Dani Pedrosa, who ranked No. 2 in the 2007 season, and Nicky Hayden, the winner of the 2006 series championship who placed No. 8 in 2007.
In the 250cc class, Honda will field two riders and two teams with the RS250RW, aiming for the championship title.
MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship SeriesWith factory teams allowed to take part in the races from 2007, Honda competed in the JSB1000 class as the works team TEAM HRC. To help reinvigorate road racing in Japan and to further increase opportunities for people to watch and enjoy the races, in 2008, Honda will enter the JSB1000 class as the Dream Honda Racing Team, with the cooperation of Honda Motorcycle Japan Co., Ltd.
In collaboration with Honda Racing Corporation and Honda’s technical staff, Honda Motorcycle Japan will also provide support to a number of teams and riders, centered on teams run by Honda dealerships competing in the JSB1000, GP250, GP125, ST600 and GP-Mono classes.
Motocross racesMFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship Series
The works team TEAM HRC will be vying to capture the championship title in each of the IA1 class (displacement of 450cc or less for 4-stroke machines) and the IA2 class (displacement of 250cc or less for 2-stroke machines).
In collaboration with Honda Racing Corporation and Honda’s technical staff, Honda Motorcycle Japan will also provide support to a number of teams and riders, centered on teams run by Honda dealerships competing in the IA1, IA2, IB2, IB-Open and Ladies classes.
TrialsFIM World Trial Championship Series
For the FIM World Trial Championship Series, Honda will run two Montesa COTA 4RTs equipped with 4-stroke engines, with the aim of capturing the rider’s title for the second year in a row and our third consecutive manufacturer’s title.
MFJ All-Japan Trial Championship SeriesHonda Racing Corporation will provide support to a number of teams and riders, centered on HRC Club teams belonging to HRC service shops.
Main Honda teams and riders participating in MFJ All-Japan Championship Series races (Reference information)In cooperation with Honda Racing Corporation and Honda technical staff, Honda Motorcycle Japan Co., Ltd. plans to hold the Honda Racing Family Circuit Meeting to offer opportunities for Honda riders participating in all-Japan road races and motocross championships to practice riding, as well as advice on physical training. At the venue of each championship, the Honda Racing Family Racing Service will be made available for riders participating in the race, where machine setting by technical staff and advice on riding technique will be provided. In this way, riders’ racing activities will be properly supported.
Major team/rider for All Japan Road Race Championship
* This information is provisional and subject to change
Major team/rider for All Japan Motocross Championship
* This information is provisional and subject to change
Major team/rider for All Japan Trial Championship
Main Honda teams and riders participating in the World Superbike (WSB) Championship, the World Supersport (WSS) Championship, and the World Motocross Championship (WMX) with support provided by Honda Motor Europe Ltd.
Taking part in the World Superbike (WSB) Championship as members of private teams supported by Honda Motor Europe Ltd. (HME), Honda’s overseas subsidiary, will be Ryuichi Kiyonari, winner of consecutive series championships in the British Superbike (BSB) Championship in 2006 and 2007, and Shuhei Aoyama, competitor in the 250cc class of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix until last year and third recipient of the Honda Racing Scholarship, which was started in 2004 as a scholarship for fostering young Japanese rider talent. Also competing in the WSB as members of an HME-supported team are Carlos Checa, 2007 MotoGP participant as a member of a satellite team and Suzuka 8hours World Endurance Championship Race participant as a member of a works team, and Kenan Sofuoglu, far ahead of other riders as the runaway winner of the World Supersport (WSS) Championship in 2007.
Jonathan Rea, who last year took the No. 2 spot in the BSB Championship behind champion and teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari will compete in the World Supersport (WSS) Championship, riding a CBR600RR as a member of the same team as Kiyonari, who will enter the WSB as already mentioned.
HME will also support two teams racing in the World Motocross Championship (WMX). The teams feature riders Mike Brown, winner of the 2007 MX2 British Championship, Billy Mackenzie, winner of the 2007 MX1 British Championship, Julien Bill, winner of a number of Swiss championships, and Marc de Reuver, former 125cc Netherlands Championship champion. The four will ride CRF450Rs and participate in the MX1 class, the top class of WMX.
Major team/rider for World Superbike Championship (WSB)
Major team/rider for World Supersport Championship (WSS)
Major team/rider for World Motocross Championship (WMX)
Outline of Automobile Racing Plans
Formula One World ChampionshipIn 2008, Honda reaffirms its commitment to the pursuit of its world championship ambitions with a fresh face for the Honda Racing F1 Team, as Ross Brawn takes over as the team principal. Honda will also enhance its car development capabilities through closer Japan-UK collaboration.
With the new Honda RA108 race car designed using a completely new concept to deliver stable, superior aerodynamic performance, and the Honda RA808E V8 engine, which is compatible with the new regulations, Honda aims once again to compete for nothing less than the top position.
IRL IndyCar SeriesHonda Performance Development, Inc., a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will supply the HI8R Honda V8 engine to all IndyCar teams as the sole engine supplier. Now that new regulations are effect, all Indy cars are required to have a paddle shift allowing drivers to shift gears with only their fingers. The paddle shift reduces shift errors and improves safety since the driver can shift gears without taking a hand off the steering wheel even when cornering, which requires gear shifting.
American Le Mans SeriesHonda will participate in the LMP2 Class, the prototype category of the American Le Mans Series again this year, using cars equipped with Acura ARX-01b chassis, and the Acura LM V-8 engine, which was independently designed and developed by Honda Performance Development, Inc., a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Super GTThe Honda NSX-GT Project, in cooperation with M-TEC Co., Ltd. and Dome Co., Ltd., is fielding five teams and five cars in the Super GT. The V6, 3.5-liter, NA (natural aspiration) engine has been further refined, and using a lighter, more rigid chassis, Honda is focused on taking the double titles of individual and team championships for the second year in a row.
Formula NipponHonda will supply four teams with HF386E 3-liter V8 engines through Japan Race Promotion, Inc.
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 horizon of motor sports in Japan by fostering talent for the future, Honda will continue its support of Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ), a Junior Formula race .