One of the items from last weekend’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course we weren’t able to hit during the weekend was Honda’s Steve Eriksen, VP and COO of Honda Performance Development, having a sit down with the media to discuss Honda’s current racing projects.
Eriksen expanded on the new HPD ARX-04b coupe, the new P2 car. Here’s a transcript of that section:
THE MODERATOR: Let’s move to sports cars for a moment. The new ARX-04b makes its debut in 2015. It’s a beautiful car. We know the Extreme Speed Motorsports team is going to run it in the TUDOR Championship. Give us an update on where that project stands, perhaps if we have the possibility of seeing other cars out there in addition to the Extreme Speed entries.
STEVE ERIKSEN: Our target was to have six cars planned for next season. I have every confidence that we’ll have all six out there.
The balance between World Endurance Championship or the TUDOR Championship kind of depends on the politics and balance of performance happens in the U.S. But I expect that all six of the cars we’ve targeted will go out to teams.
The progress on the car is going really well. We’re planning to put the first cars together in late October, then they’ll be on track in November. You can see them in person.
The car itself, it takes everything we learned from the last times that we had to do new cars. If you look back on the history, there was the ARX-01a, which debuted in 2007, then the 01b came out in 2008, which was a major update. The 01c was developed for Le Mans. That was a car that raced and set all kinds of records in 2010. We didn’t have opportunities to do updates to the car until we created this new car because of the ACO regulations.
What you’ll see is essentially the behind-the-scenes work that has been going on for years in our sports car program finally come to light. All the things that have been happening in the virtual world over the years is going to be coming together in this new car.
We made a special emphasis on the safety in this car. If you look at the regulations and you look at LMP1 versus LMP2, there are some differences in safety requirements between the two cars. Our P2 car is going to have all of the P1 safety requirements in addition to the P2 safety requirements. We’ve gone above and beyond. Although that adds expense to the car, it’s going to have every safety advancement we can put in the car.
This is not part of the regulation requirement, but we’re adding the fuel safety interlock system, which is the same system on every IndyCar here, which we developed. That same system of ours is going into the sports car as well. That’s another safety enhancement.
We’re also pushing the TUDOR Series to go back to ACO-style pit stops with the requirement that you can’t work on the car until fueling is done. We feel that’s an important safety benefit that should be put back into the series.
I think it will also save teams money because they’ll be able to double, triple, even quadruple stint their tires. I think it will help make the racing more interesting because you’ll have this back and forth between a DP car, which is really using the cars properly, then a P2 car for which the tires are not designed to operate with that type of car.
When the 04b comes out, I think you’ll see a lot of neat refinements on that car. It’s going to be a special car.
THE MODERATOR: You expect some mix of 04b cars, chassis, between the World Endurance Championship and the TUDOR Championship, correct?
STEVE ERIKSEN: That’s correct. If I was guessing today, and every day changes, but if I was guessing today, I’d say there will be four in the TUDOR Series and two in the WEC.