In 2010, Honda Performance Development took on – and succeeded at – one of the toughest challenges in motorsports: The 24 Hours of Le Mans. Working with three teams in the LMP2 category, HPD-powered entries won the class pole and finished first and third in the company’s first attempt at the endurance racing classic.
HPD is attempting to repeat that first-year triumph in 2011, but, in order to make the attempt, had to develop a new, production-based engine to meet new rules adopted this year for the LMP2 category.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), rule-making body for sports-prototype competition, now requires production-based engines for LMP2, to be sold or leased under a series-mandated price cap. That led to development of the HR28TT, a 2.8-liter, twin-turbo V-6, based on Honda’s global V-6 production car engine, and utilizing HPD’s exclusive engine-control system.
The HPD engine will power three LMP2 teams at Le Mans: defending class winner Strakka Racing; Le Mans Series class champion RML Motorsport; and American-based Level 5 Motorsports, a team which is taking on Le Mans for the first time.
Last year, Strakka drivers Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis and their HPD ARX-01c completed 367 laps of the eight-mile Circuit de la Sarthe, establishing a new record for laps completed by an LMP2 competitor at Le Mans. Their fifth-place overall finish also established a new LMP2 record, besting the previous mark set in 2006.
Meanwhile, the HPD-powered RML Lola B08/80 HPD of Thomas Erdos, Mike Newton and Andy Wallace came home third, in a nearly equally trouble-free run. Both Strakka and RML return this year, now equipped with the latest-specification HPD ARX-01d open-cockpit chassis.
They will be joined by Le Mans newcomer Level 5, with the Wisconsin-based team running an ambitious program including both the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the American Le Mans Series championship in a pair of HPD-powered Lola Coupes – one in each series.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines.
HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series and the 2010 Le Mans Series, in addition to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. HPD also administers The Honda Racing Line to provide racing enthusiasts and professionals with dependable racing products and support from entry-level to pinnacle forms of motorsports.
2011 HPD LMP2 Engine Specs
• Configuration: Twin-turbocharged V-6, 60-degree cylinder banking
• Displacement: 2.8 liters
• ECU: HPD
• Air Intake: Two, 29.3 mm restrictors
(or two 30.0 mm restrictors for cost capped cars)
• Power: 450 bhp [335 kw]
• Rev Range: 6,200 rpm [over-rev limit 7,600 rpm]
• Service Life: 3,500 miles [30 hours]
HPD’s LMP2 Teams at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
• Level 5 Motorsports, United States
HPD Lola B11/80 coupe Michelin Tires
Drivers: Joao Barbosa, Christophe Bouchut, Scott Tucker
• RML Motorsport, England
HPD ARX-01d spyder Dunlop Tires
Drivers: Ben Collins, Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton
• Strakka Racing, England
HPD ARX-01d spyder Michelin Tires
Drivers: Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis, Danny Watts