Honda Performance Development (HPD) has raced - and won - at some of the most renowned racing circuits across the globe, from the Indianapolis 500 to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now HPD adds one more historic venue to its competition resume: the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.
HPD will field a pair of vastly divergent entries in the 89th running of the "Race to the Clouds": a rally version of the B-Spec Honda Fit introduced at last year's 25 Hours of Thunderhill; and an exotic, tube-frame, V-6-powered HPD "Desert Pilot".
HPD B-Spec Rally Fit
Designed for both stage rallying and Rallycross, in addition to Pikes Peak, the HPD B-Spec Rally Fit expands the concept of low-cost "B-Spec" competition from its road-racing origins.
The Fit utilizes all of the same competition components introduced with the debut of B-Spec racing last November by Team Honda Research-West (THR-W) at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, including the roll cage, suspension, camber adjusters, brake lines, brake pads and exhaust system.
The transition from pavement to dirt is completed by raising the car on its suspension, and installing large, 205/50R15 BFGoodrich R1 tires.
The HPD B-Spec Rally Fit will be campaigned by the Ohio-based Team Honda Research (THR) Rally team, and driven by Honda R&D Ohio engineer James Robinson. Additional rallycross events will be run by THR in the B-Spec Rally Fit in 2011, following its Pikes Peak debut.
HPD Desert Pilot
Also making its competition debut at Pikes Peak, the HPD Desert Pilot is a significant departure from all previous Honda off-road race vehicles.
The HPD Desert Pilot will be driven by Gavin Skilton and his California Race and Rally team. The new program will replace the successful CR-R stock Honda Ridgeline off-road racing program, a two-time class winner of the grueling Baja 1000.
Based around a tubular space-frame chassis, the heart of the HPD Desert Pilot is its 3.7-liter Honda V-6 engine, a racing-modified development of the alloy V-6 found in a variety of Honda and Acura automobiles and trucks. The mid-engined powerplant is located just behind the central driver's seat, providing more than 400 horsepower to all four wheels.
Replica Honda Pilot bodywork, featuring widened wheel arches to cover the 35-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires; King Shocks; four-wheel independent suspension and Baja Design lights complete the package.
After Pikes Peak, Skilton and his California Rally and Race team will campaign the HPD Desert Pilot as a Class 6 (unlimited chassis, 6-cylinder engine) entry in a variety of off-road races, culminating with November's Baja 1000.
First run in 1916, the June 26 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb starts 9,390 feet above sea level, at Mile 7 of Pikes Peak Highway, on the Rocky Mountain located outside of Colorado Springs, Colo. The 12.42-mile long course includes more than 150 turns, as it rises another 4,721 feet over both gravel and paved sections to the summit of the famous mountain. More than 150 competitors take part in the Hillclimb in multiple classes, including cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs.
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. In addition to its grassroots motorsports support programs, it offers race engine products from karting to pinnacle, HPD is the single engine supplier to the IndyCar Series and competes in prototype sports-car racing under the HPD banner in the American Le Mans and European Le Mans Series.