Honda, more specifically Honda’s U.S.-based Honda Performance Development unit, is working on a new engine it hopes to sell to private teams competing in the World Endurance Championship and the series’ highlight, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The new engine is a turbocharged V-6 that will be offered to teams competing in the series’ premier LMP1 category next season. By 2015, HPD also hopes to have a range of bespoke energy recovery options ready. These are being developed in accordance with the series’ new energy-based powertrian regulations.
Starting in 2014, rather than any set engine displacement or air inlet restrictor limits, the technical regulations specifies a maximum fuel-flow rate into the engine, with or without energy recovery systems. Teams can run without energy recovery systems or choose to add the level of energy recovery that best suits their needs, i.e. everything from no energy recovery up to a maximum eight Megajoules.
HPD is already a supplier to teams competing in the lesser LMP2 category, offering up a V-8 engine to teams in the WEC and American Le Mans Series. Cars using the new LMP1 engine, however, will be competing against the latest prototypes from Audi, Porsche and Toyota. Toppling these giants will be no small feat but HPD certainly has plenty of experience. The company will also have access to technology being developed for Honda’s new Formula One engine, which will also be a turbocharged V-6.
HPD’s new engine, to be designated the Honda HR22T, is based on the same architecture used in IndyCar since 2012. The particular unit is a direct-injected and turbocharged 2.2-liter V-6, which has been designed to work with a new energy recovery system developed in concert with HPD technical partner Magneti Marelli.
Despite its new focus on the WEC’s LMP1 category, HPD still plans to supply engines and chassis to teams competing in the LMP2 category as well as those teams competing in the newly combined United Sports Car Racing series. In fact, HPD and chassis technical partner Wirth Research are also developing an enclosed version of its successful ARX chassis, powered by its new HR22T engine and energy recovery technology, which will provide teams with a fully integrated solution from next year.
With these latest developments in endurance racing, as well as the return to F1, there remains little doubt that Honda is once again committed to motorsport. Hopefully we’ll see some actual benefits transferred to Honda’s road car program. The 2015 Acura NSX is a good start but a few accessible sports cars would be even better.