Honda solidly behind INDYCAR’s move to Hybrid engines in 2022

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The chance to showcase hybrid engine technology and gain technology transfer between its INDYCAR program and the consumer market has made Honda a solid advocate of INDYCAR’s decision to introduce hybrid engines in 2022.

INDYCAR officials made the announcement on August 1 and the new engine platform will help deliver more than 900 horsepower to the IndyCars. The innovation is focused on “electrified response” in service to IndyCar drivers and fans while maintaining the key components of an internal combustion engine (ICE).

From a manufacturer’s standing, the decision “parallels addition of hybrid systems across Honda product lineup.”

Honda officials spoke about the announcement by INDYCAR on August 1 that it will introduce hybrid powertrains to race cars in the NTT IndyCar Series for the 2022 season. The plan to begin using hybrid powertrains in a pinnacle racing series like INDYCAR parallels a recent announcement from Honda that it would expand application of hybrid electric systems throughout the Honda product lineup in the coming years.

“Racing has long been a crucible for the development of new technologies and people at Honda and this direction will enable us to promote a technology through racing that is essential to the future of our automobile business,” said Ted Klaus, president of Honda Performance Development. “At the same time, the immediate response delivered by an electrified powertrain will improve vehicle performance for our IndyCar drivers and the quality of the competitive show for our great fans.”

According to the INDYCAR announcement, the hybrid powertrain will work in parallel with the internal combustion engines from Honda and Chevrolet, combining growing hybrid technology with the traditional power plants to produce in excess of 900 horsepower for the most competitive racing series in the world.

“The addition of hybrid power to INDYCAR parallels our own decision to reduce CO2emissions by adding hybrid electric systems across our entire Honda model lineup,” Klaus continued. “For our customers, it’s about making environmentally responsible vehicles that people enjoy driving, and in a similar way, adding hybrid power to our INDYCAR formula will make the racing even more enjoyable for our fans.”

From a manufacturer’s standpoint, Honda is targeting to make two-thirds of its global automobile sales electrified by the year 2030, as it works to realize its dream of a carbon-free society. Earlier this year, Honda announced plans to expand the application of its award-winning two-motor hybrid system to the entire Honda product lineup, in order to achieve challenging goals to make products more appealing while lowering CO2emissions.

Honda’s INDYCAR program is an opportunity to promote this direction, according to the manufacturer.

Honda also has been racing hybrid powertrains over the past five seasons in the Formula 1 series. While the hybrid power unit in Formula 1 is proprietary to Honda, the INDYCAR power unit, although single-sourced, will enable Honda to develop next-generation people and processes to integrate Electric Motor Torque along with Engine Torque. Honda racing’s experience and recent successes in Formula 1® bode well for Honda integrating hybrids in their INDYCAR strategies and efforts.

INDYCAR’s single-source hybrid platform includes a multi-phase motor, inverter and electric storage device that will create energy recovery from the car’s braking system. This will mark the first time that IndyCar race vehicles will depart from the traditional, manual hand-held electric starters to a hybrid component that can be activated by the driver from the cockpit.

In addition to allowing drivers to restart their cars from the cockpit, the system will increase the horsepower of the push-to-pass system and potentially improve the pace and overall time of races.

The hybrid powertrain will be integrated into the push-to-pass system and provide a power boost to the tool used by drivers for overtaking on road and street courses. The current system, which is limited to 200 seconds per driver in those events, will gain additional horsepower from the hybrid system to help INDYCAR reach its target goal of achieving 900-plus horsepower for its cars.

The new technology will also have some valuable benefits from a safety standpoint.

The system will improve on-track situations by giving the driver the ability to restart the car quickly should it stall on track. This will help reduce the time the driver and AMR Safety Team are exposed on track as opposed to awaiting a manual restart.

Also, this feature could potentially help reduce the number of caution flags for stalled cars on track and leading to improved overall pace and time of races.

The new INDYCAR powertrain strategy now will align with the arrival of the next-generation chassis as initially scheduled. INDYCAR also announced that the new engine regulations will be in place for six years – 2022 through the 2027 seasons – in a concerted effort to provide a clear vision and stability for the NTT IndyCar Series engine manufacturers and teams.

Originally, a 2.4-liter engine platform was going to begin in 2021. By moving into hybrid technology, the new engine will be introduced one year later.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.