Seven teams and a dozen full-time entries will lead the Honda effort in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, which opens Sunday with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The manufacturer and its Honda Performance Development racing arm are seeking their seventh competitive manufacturers’ championshipand a repeat of the 2013 drivers’ championship with a powerful lineup that includes a mix of 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, eight proven race winners and a trio of rising talents.
All will utilize the all-new twin-turbocharged Honda Indy V6 engine, which is designed, manufactured, developed and maintained by HPD. Designated the HI14RTT, the engine is new power plant designed to meet the Verizon IndyCar Series’ technical regulations for 2014 which now specify a pair of Borg Warner turbochargers, in place of the single-turbo unit used by Honda in 2012-13.
“We’ve been encouraged by the performance of the new Honda Indy V6 and the improvements we’ve made during the off-season,” said Mark Crawford, HPD Large Project Leader for the IndyCar program. “We believe we have a great lineup of teams and drivers, including a good balance of proven race winners and promising new stars. We’re looking forward to the start of the 2014 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, and taking on the challenge presented by Chevrolet in the battle for the Manufacturers’ Championship.”
The powerful Andretti Autosport organization, which delivered a pair of Indianapolis 500 victories and three series championships with Honda between 2003-2007, returns to Honda power for 2014 and a strong, four-driver lineup
Led by 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, the depth chart at Andretti includes James Hinchcliffe, a three-race winner in 2013, popular third-generation racer Marco Andretti and newcomer Carloz Munoz, who starred in his rookie appearance at last year’s Indianapolis 500.
A two-race winner who finished third in the 2013 championship, Simon Pagenaud returns to lead the two-car effort from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Pagenaud will be partnered by promising rookie, Mikhail Aleshin, who graduates to IndyCar competition after a successful career in European open-wheel racing.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing welcomes the National Guard as the primary sponsor for Graham Rahal, son of team principal Bobby Rahal and the youngest race winner in IndyCar history. The younger Rahal was just 19 when he won his IndyCar series debut at the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Veteran race winner Oriol Servia will drive the second RLLR entry at the Indianapolis 500 and select additional events.
With seven career IndyCar victories to his name, veteran Justin Wilson returns to Dale Coyne Racing. Takuma Sato, who battled Dario Franchitti in a thrilling finish to the 2012 Indianapolis 500 and scored his first IndyCar victory at Long Beach in 2013,continues with Honda and A.J. Foyt Racing for a sixth season of IndyCar racing.
Promising young American racer Josef Newgarden returns with Honda power to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing; and Bryan Herta Autosport rounds out the Honda-powered lineup with Indy Lights graduate Jack Hawksworth.
An extensive fleet of Honda pace cars, safety cars and support vehicles is used in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, including the Honda Accord Coupe Safety Car, driven at select events by three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford. The 278-horsepower, 3.5-liter Accord Coupe was transformed by HPD into an official Verizon IndyCar Series Safety Car to complement the existing Honda IndyCar series fleet.
Modifications to the standard high-performance Accord include Sparco seats and four-point racing harnesses; an HPD high-performance brake system, with four-piston calipers, competition rotors, racing pads, and stainless brake lines; a Honda Genuine Accessory aerodynamic body kit, consisting of front, side and rear under-spoilers; and Firestone Firehawk high-performance tires, mounted on Enkei alloy wheels. An exclusive graphics theme completed the conversion from a showroom Accord Coupe to a Verizon IndyCar Series Safety Car.
Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994, and has played an active role in the growth of the Verizon IndyCar Series – as both a Manufacturers’ Championship competitor and single engine supplier – since joining the series in 2003.
The company scored its first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004 with Buddy Rice; Manufacturers’ Championships in 2004 and ’05; and became engine supplier to the entire IndyCar Series in 2006. Honda supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year from 2006-2011, and for a record-six consecutive years — and the only six times in event history – the ‘500’ ran without a single engine failure.
The 2012 Indianapolis 500, won by Dario Franchitti, was Honda’s ninth consecutive “500” triumph – both against competition from other manufacturers and as sole engine supplier. Honda has a total of 205 race victories in open-wheel racing, 65 in Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) competition and 140 in IndyCar.
Founded in 1993, HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines and competes at race circuits around the world from its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.
In addition to its efforts in Indy car racing, HPD spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2012 American Le Mans Series, and in the LMP2 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 2010 and 2012. HPD offers a line of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; for professional, amateur and entry-level efforts.