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Honda's New Formula - December 2006 Shakedown

Jenson Button Wins His First Grand Prix And The First For Honda's Latest Effort

Dec 1, 2006

"Wow! What a day!" exclaimed Jenson Button after winning his first grand prix in 113 starts. "This is such an amazing moment for me and one that I have worked my whole motor racing career for. I always had faith that we would achieve our objective together and this victory is testimony to that belief."

Faith is the operative word. Button always had the ability. But after six years in Formula 1 without a victory, some in the paddock wondered if the British driver could put it all together. Others outside the paddock wondered if he would ever shave his blond stubble. One of the two came true at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he showed that he could win. And he did it in the wet.

The weekend got off to an inauspicious start. In qualifying, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were penalized for dangerous maneuvers. The penalties dropped Schumacher to 12th on the grid and Alonso to 15th. Button started from 4th.

With rain falling, the first corner was a mess. Button lost several places entering the second lap, but that's when he began his charge. He made up five places over the next handful of laps and continued to carve out seconds from the lead. By lap 46, he was right behind Alonso, the race leader. A few laps later, Alonso went into the pits for a tire change. On the second corner out, a wheelnut dislodged from his car, which sent him spinning. Button found himself in the lead with less than 20 laps remaining. After a final pitstop, he extended his lead to over 30 seconds. It was harder than it looked.

"Needless to say, this race was very hard to manage from a strategic standpoint," said Gil De Ferran, Honda F1's sporting director, "right from the start when we struggled with what tires to start the race on."

"The key part of the race," he continued, "came after Jenson caught up to the leader and we decided to split the last stint since we doubted the wets were going to be the right tire for the conditions at the end. But they certainly were when he came in for the second time on lap 46."

While Honda F1 returned to familiar form and missed the podium at the following stop in Turkey, Button finished just outside of top 3 and both RA106s earned points. More encouraging still is team boss Nick Fry's recent assessment that the team is at the threshold of some significant improvements. One can only hope.

Marvelous Marco
Rookie Marco Andretti wins his first IndyCar race at Infineon Speedway.Nineteen-year-old Marco Andretti became the youngest driver to win an IndyCar race. Starting from second on the grid at Infineon Speedway, Andretti stayed close to Scott Dixon, who led from pole, for most of the race. On lap 45, Andretti entered the pits and the team filled up the tank with enough fuel for the rest of the race. While other drivers went back in for another pitstop, Andretti was able to retake the lead. Teammate Dario Franchitti made a late charge and closed in within less than a second. But he couldn't pass Andretti.

"I knew that Dario is normally the king of saving fuel," said Andretti, who is strong on road circuits. "After he got by Tony [Kanaan], I knew it definitely wasn't over, and he would push me hard during the final laps. I had to run some pretty fast laps at the end, but we just needed to stay consistent, save the tires and fuel, and it all worked out."

NHRA Roundup
Jeremy Lookofsky continued his assault on the Honda Tuning All-Motor championship. He took his second win of the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, beating Scion's Leslie Durst-Armendariz with a time of 10.03 @ 137.82. With two races left, Lookofsky leads with 740 points. Norris Prayoonto is second with 595. "This is so gnarly," Lookofsky said. "This weekend has been so unbelievable. Yesterday I had heat exhaustion, which hindered my performance during qualifying. We did this all while missing one of our crewmembers James Lin. This had to be the hottest day. With the win we were able to increase our lead over the Clutch Masters team."

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas,NV
Pro FWD
Winner Jason Hunt 7.722 @ 196.30 Chevy
Runner-up Ed Bergenholtz broke {{{Mazda}}}
Hot Rod
Winner Ron Lummus 8.418 @ 173.34 {{{Pontiac}}}
Runner-up Stephanie Eggum broke Honda
All Motor
Winner Jeremy Lookofsky 10.030 @ 137.82 Honda
Runner-up Leslie Durst-Armendariz 10.241 @ 134 Scion
Sport FWD
Winner Tony Palo 9.795 @ 155.99 Honda
Runner-up Jasen Penman foul {{{Acura}}}

NDRA Roundup
After a grueling summer, which saw the NOPI NDRA series hit four tracks in less than two months, the championship comes down to the final event in Norwalk, Ohio. In the Pro Stock class, Norris Prayoonto and Saul Salcedo continued the Team Clutch Masters dominance with two wins and two runner-ups a piece during the four race stretch. Going into the finals, Prayoonto leads by 10 points. Meanwhile, in the Pro 4-Cylinder class, Alternative Motorsports Chuck Seitsinger has already locked up the championship with a 500 point cushion over Bill Lowe.

New York International Raceway
Leicester, NY
Pro Outlaw FWD
Winner Jason Hunt 7.773 @ 195.99 Chevy
Runner-up Gary Gardella 7.912 @ 180.36 Chevy
Pro 4-Cylinder
Winner Marco Pisano 11.186 @ 85.60 {{{Eagle}}}
Runner-up Bill Lowe 11.781 @ 125.46 Eagle
Pro Stock
Winner Norris Prayoonto 9.730 @ 139.51 {{{Honda}}}
Runner-up Saul Salceda foul {{{Acura}}}
Atco International Raceway
Atco, NJ
Pro Outlaw FWD
Winner Jason Hunt 7.712 @ 192.00 Chevy
Runner-up Gary Gardella 9.465 @ 135.21 Chevy
Pro 4-Cylinder
Winner Chuck Seitsinger 9.000 @ 113.06 Honda
Runner-up Bill Lowe 10.234 @ 145.20 Eagle
Pro Stock
Winner Norris Prayoonto 9.795 @ 138.31 Honda
Runner-up Leslie Durst-Armendariz 10.580 @ 130.12 {{{Scion}}}
New England Dragway
Epping, NH
Pro Outlaw FWD
Winner Christian Rado 20.156 @ 65.71 Scion
Runner-up
Pro 4-Cylinder
Winner Chuck Seitsinger 8.351 @ 175.71 Honda
Runner-up Darryl Hudson 10.621 @ 140.33 {{{Mitsubishi}}}
Pro Stock
Winner Saul Salceda 9.733 @ 140.82 Acura
Runner-up Norris Prayoonto 9.638 @ 140.93 Honda
Maryland International Raceway
Budds Creek, MD
Pro Outlaw FWD
Winner Jason Hunt 7.695 @ 195.42 Chevy
Runner-up John Shepard 8.257 @ 184.60 Eagle
Pro 4-Cylinder
Winner Bill Lowe 11.063 @ 130.51 Eagle
Runner-up Harry Sohn 11.758 @ {{{100}}}.41 Honda
Pro Stock
Winner Saul Salceda 13.741 @ 78.81 Acura
Runner-up Norris Prayoonto 17.894 @ Honda

An Andretti At Le Mans?
With Andretti Green Racing fronting one of three Acura teams in the American Le Mans Series, could an Andretti return to Le Mans be eminent?From the moment Acura revealed its LMP2 race car concept at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, there was buzz about who would be driving it in the American Le Mans Series next year. Three viable options had the same last name: Marco Andretti, Michael Andretti and Mario Andretti. And though the drivers are still unknown, Acura did select the three teams that will campaign the car.

At the top of the list is Andretti Green Racing, which is run by Michael and features Marco in the cockpit and Mario on the sidelines. Team AGR will campaign two Acura-Courage LC75 cars in the LMP2 class. Although an all-Andretti team is enticing, Danica Patrick, recently hired for 2007, could also get a shot. Prior to joining the IndyCar series, she had raced road courses in the Toyota-Atlantic series.

Two other teams getting Acura-power are Highcroft Racing and Fernandez Racing. Highcroft gets two Acura-Courage LC75s and will work closest with Honda Performance Development in developing the chassis. Fernandez will focus on developing the Acura V-8 engine, which will be built entirely by HPD.

Unlike AGR and Highcroft, Fernandez will run a Lola B05/40 chassis. Recently, the team was at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz., for two days of testing. Over the two days of testing, Adrian Fernandez, the team president and driver, put the Lola B05/40 through its paces over 200 laps.

"I can't remember a first test with a brand-new package ever going this well," he said. "My first laps in the car were unbelievable. The car is fast! It felt great from the start, and I was amazed at how quickly we were able to make strides to continually get the car better and better.

The first race for all three teams will be the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

Sweet And Low
It doesn't look like the Honda Stream will make its way to America anytime soon, but the Stream made minivans cool.The latest generation Honda Stream gets the Honda low floor treatment. The new design pushes the floor lower and flat, which increases overall cabin room. The floor tunnel has been eliminated for more legroom. The design also lowers the vehicle's center of gravity, which improves handling characteristics. Wheelbase has been increased. The side sills have been redesigned for more passenger width. The chassis has been strengthened for increased rigidity. The Stream is only available in Japan and comes with two engines: a 2.0-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder with CVT and a 1.8-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder with a 5-speed automatic.

Small Goes Big Time
The all-new '07 Honda CR-V joins the crowded mini-SUV crossover market.There was a time when the Honda CR-V was a small solution to the SUV trend. It was a runt-underpowered and not exactly a looker. Who knew then it would become the SUV of the future?

Now, every car manufacturer makes some sort of mini-SUV crossover. Ads boast about their car-like handling and gas mileage. Suddenly, Honda's third generation CR-V has lots of stiff competition.

With an increased emphasis on contemporary style, the all-new CR-V looks as good as ever. Gone is the boxy moon buggy silhouette. In its place is a sleek and stylish profile. Honda moved the spare tire from the tailgate to underneath the vehicle, which shortens the body length by 3.1-inches to 177.9-inches. Width has been increased by 1.4-inches to 71.6-inches.

As for the nuts and bolts, the CR-V is built on a unit-body construction. Honda emphasizes its use of high-strength steel in strategic areas to bump up chassis rigidity. The cabin is also quieter than ever, protected from road and engine noise with the use of new noise absorption materials.

All three trim levels get the same engine. It's a modified version of the existing 2.4-liter DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder. Honda has done some valvetrain tuning and tuned the intake and exhaust. Compression ratio is higher. And the engine puts out 166 hp and 161 lb-ft of torque and features a Drive-By-Wire throttle. A five-speed automatic tranny and RealTime 4WD are standard.

More power has been pumped into the audio system. Every trim comes with at least 160-watt of stereo sound and MP3/WMA playback capability. The Honda CR-V is on sale now.

At A Glance:2007 Honda CR-VEngine:2.4-liter inline-4 DOHC i-VTEC

Max Power:166 hp @ 5800rpm161 lb-ft of torque @ 4200rpm

Transmission:Standard 5-speed automatic

Wheels:17-inch aluminum alloy

Tires:P225/65R17

Splash 'N' Dash
Honda has begun taking sales orders for the HondaJet, which boasts fuel-efficient engine technology and cutting edge aerodynamics. The prototype HondaJet has completed more than 240 hours of flight-testing. It has achieved an altitude of 43,000 feet and a speed of 412 knots. Piper Aircraft is collaborating with Honda on sales and service.

The all-new Honda Element SC has hit the showroom. The factory-modified Element SC comes with more than 10 exclusive additions, including a sport-tuned suspension with lowered ride height and 18-inch wheels. Painted bumpers, projector beam headlights and an "aero" grille are just a few features that distinguish the Element SC from the standard vehicle. The Element SC is on sale now with a price of $22,695.

Pricing for the '07 Acura RDX has been announced at $32,995. An RDX equipped with the Technology Package is set a $36,495 and adds a 10-speaker, 410-watt, Acura/ELS Surround Premium Sound System and several visual and audio communications features such as the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition and rearview camera, the HandsFreeLink wireless telephone interface, and the AcuraLink Satellite Communication System with Real Time Traffic.

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