The “ripple effect” as you were of the Tony Kanaan-to-Chip Ganassi Racing announcement earlier Friday has, naturally, merited a response from both KV Racing Technology and now, Honda.
Honda offered thanks to CGR in its statement, as the team switches to Chevrolet in 2014. But, as it was also quick to acknowledge, its level of success didn’t end when the partnership with Ganassi did.
The platitudes first: “On behalf of everyone at Honda, I’d like to thank Chip Ganassi and the entire Ganassi Racing organization for their efforts in our very successful, eight-year partnership in the Indy Racing League and INDYCAR, which included four driver’s championships, three Indianapolis 500 victories and more than 40 individual race wins since 2006,” Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr said in a statement.
But here’s the dagger. Ganassi left Honda for a lucrative deal with Toyota after four consecutive CART championships from 1996 to 1999. And while CGR initially struggled with Toyota as it worked through teething issues and unreliability, Honda went onto consecutive titles in 2000 and 2001 with their-then prized new recruits: Gil de Ferran and Team Penske.
“It may be worth noting that when our previous – and also very successful – association with the Ganassi organization in Championship Auto Racing Teams competition ended after the 1999 season, Honda went on to win 15 races over the next two seasons, including both the 2000 and 2001 driver’s championship, and the 2001 Manufacturers’ Championship,” said St. Cyr.
With three races to play in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season, whichever manufacturer wins two of the next three races will take home the Manufacturer’s Championship. That manufacturer will have 10 wins at a minimum, with 11 achievable if a manufacturer wins each of the last three. Understandably, that remains HPD’s focus for the final two race weekends of the year.
“While this partnership is coming to an end, Honda and Honda Performance Development remain committed to achieving even greater IndyCar success in the future with our continuing and new partner teams. While Honda and theGanassi organization are going our separate ways, we remain committed to winning the 2013 Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ championships, and our collective efforts for the final three races will be entirely focused on accomplishing those objectives,” said St. Cyr.
Honda will likely pick up at least one and possibly more Chevrolet teams in the offseason to offset the loss. For those worrying about a draw down effort from HPD on the IndyCar side, fear not. The company’s mission statement and identity is “the power of dreams,” and there’s no question that Honda’s dream is to keep the hammer down in its battle versus Chevrolet for years to come.