Honda shaping up in better position for 2016 IndyCar season

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Once the “world’s worst kept secret of the IndyCar offseason” was made official on Tuesday, that Honda would in fact continue with the Verizon IndyCar Series, they can now talk more openly about goals and projections for the 2016 season ahead.

Testing has been intense since the reopening of the winter testing period in January, with a pair of Sebring tests and new aerodynamic components being tried out by four of Honda’s six teams.

Thus far Andretti Autosport, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises have tested with the new parts.

“I think they’ve been very pleased with the consistency and predictability of the car,” Vice President and COO of Honda Performance Development Steve Eriksen told MotorSportsTalk at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, prior to the race.

“We’re trying to give them more, that so they can feel more comfortable doing their setups.”

Dale Coyne Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport are yet to test with the new parts but you’d hope they will be out at least once before the Test in the West series open test at Phoenix International Raceway, February 26-27.

Eriksen said the parts situation, which was arguably a bit late and delayed to start last year, should be improved from a timeline standpoint in 2016.

“Having gone through the motions once, you try to reflect on what went well and what didn’t,” he admitted.

“I think we’re in a lot better position now about the flow through of parts than last year. The teams have the ability to get sufficient time before they get on track for the full season.”

Honda has one more manufacturer test day scheduled for Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on February 10. Andretti and SPM will be testing; Andretti will have all three of its drivers while SPM will just have James Hinchcliffe.

In terms of entries, Eriksen isn’t expecting any major surprises for the number of engine leases.

“I think we’ll be at 11 full-season, and we’d expect for the Indy 500, 17,” he said.

A 12th Honda engine will be running at selected events, not necessarily with just one team.

The breakdown of the full-season 11 Honda entries is pretty straightforward:

  • Andretti (3): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz
  • Schmidt Peterson (2): James Hinchcliffe, Mikhail Aleshin
  • Foyt (2): Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth
  • Coyne (2): Conor Daly, TBA
  • RLL (1): Graham Rahal
  • BHA (1): TBA, but highly likely to be Gabby Chaves

Factor in Spencer Pigot for at least three races in the second Rahal Letterman Lanigan car and Bryan Clauson as an extra with Coyne at the Indy 500 and then the final four – or perhaps five if Honda can stretch to 18 engines – would make up the balance.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.