Honda Performance Development, in partnership with the Ohio-based Honda of America Racing Team (HART), gave the 2012 Honda Civic Si a successful competition debut at this year’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Developed for racing in the Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Challenge Series, SCCA World Challenge and similar categories, the HART/HPD Civic finished seventh in the E0 class at the season-ending National Auto Sport Association (NASA) endurance race, held at the three-mile Thunderhill Raceway road course north of Sacramento, California.
Members of HART, the Ohio-based race team comprised of Honda associates, joined with HPD to prepare and run the Civic Si, which was built up from a body-in-white as displayed by HPD at the recent Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, utilizing a spec Honda K-24 engine as approved by Grand-Am and the SCCA, on BFGoodrich R1 tires.
Starting fifth in the E0 class, a field that included a half-dozen BMW M3s and an FFR Cobra Daytona Coupe replica, the Civic ran competitively throughout the first quarter of the 25-hour contest. At the six-hour mark, the equivalent of multiple Continental Tire/World Challenge races for which the car was designed, the Civic was ranked sixth in E0, and continued to run without any mechanical issues.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, however, transmission issues sent the Civic behind the wall for repairs. But the HART/HPD team returned to competition after replacing the transmission, and the Civic Si went on to a seventh-place finish in E0.
“This was an encouraging race debut for the 2012 Civic Si,” said Lee Niffenegger, HPD senior engineer. “The HPD-developed parts and K-24 engine all ran flawlessly throughout the event. The one issue we did encounter, with the transmission, only developed after the equivalent of two Grand-Am race weekends, which isn’t completely unreasonable. We’ll be able to take what we learned this weekend and apply it to future HPD-developed cars and parts.”
In addition to the HART/HPD Civic effort, Team Honda Research-West (THR-W) – comprised primarily of California-based Honda R&D associates who compete regularly in NASA events – also campaigned an Acura RSX in the E1 class., one of the largest of the six classes at the 25 Hours.
The RSX started strong, leading its class through the six-hour mark and building a lead of more than a lap at 8 hours. But shortly before half-distance, an off-course excursion – due to oil on the track – cost the team time behind the wall replacing a broken damper. After repairs were completed, the THR-W Acura returned to finish fifth in E1.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993 and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. HPD served as single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series from 2006-2011 and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans.
HPD offers a line of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; for professional, amateur and entry-level efforts.