Honda announces new tech center, USAC partnership in Indy

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Honda’s two North American arms has been in the news with two major announcements this week related to its IndyCar program.

On Wednesday, Honda Performance Development officially opened its Indiana Tech Center in Brownsburg, Ind. The facility features a full-scale DIL (Driver-in-the-Loop) Simulator. Construction began in 2012.

A DIL Simulator can save racing teams both time and money, as extensive test programs can be run through the simulator, with the team’s driver at the wheel and engineers monitoring “lap times”, prior to going to the expense and time-consuming process of actual on-track testing.

“Because [setup] changes can be done so quickly, the DIL Simulator allows you to run through many more [chassis geometry and track condition] changes than you could perform with an actual race car,” said Gil de Ferran, Indianapolis 500 winner, Indy car champion and now a consultant to HPD.  “It also allows you to perform experiments that would be completely impractical – or highly expensive – on an actual race car.”

Meanwhile on Thursday, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. announced a major USAC partnership program. It will include title sponsorship of several USAC racing series and a new role as Official Engine Supplier to the Ignite Midget Series.

More information on the tech center can be found here, and on the USAC partnership, here.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”