Honda: We’ve been successful after Ganassi has left before

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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.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.