Honda Establishes Motorsports Division For Le Mans

Japanese Automaker Eyes WEC Race via HRC US

Toyota has long held the title of top dog at the venerated 24 Hours of Le Mans, although Ferrari triumphed in the most recent rendition after being gone from the competition for half a century. The addition of another Japanese carmaker–Honda–could make this rivalry even more intense through the freshly-launched Honda Racing Corporation USA (HRC US).

HRC US is a collaboration between two separate motor racing units: Honda Racing Corporation in Sakura, Japan and Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, CA. The end goal is to extend Honda’s overall presence in motor sports worldwide, which includes an open possibility for the 24 Hour of Le Mans.

HRC was established in 1982 to be the motorbike arm of Honda and ultimately gain control over the automaker’s Formula 1 program. Not too long after that, HPD was launched in 1993 so as to tackle tasks like IndyCar, IMSA, Baja Off-Road, Touring Cars, and Formula Regional America.

The Drive recently conversed with Dave Salters, head of the HPD, to glean more information regarding the broadened and advanced motorsport program. Even if he said there were still enough yet to be discussed amongst their circles, he bolstered that joining in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) is a real possibility.

“Although details are yet to be finalized, we are thrilled about the prospects of Formula One and the World Endurance Championship. We will be proactively promoting Honda and Acura in all areas.”

Despite the existence of the Acura ARX-06 LMDh hypercar – a far cry from the brand’s most powerful road car, the Acura NSX – Honda Racing Corporation US (HRC US) has declared that the 2024 WEC season is “too soon” for them. This begs the question: why hasn’t Acura followed in the footsteps of Cadillac and Porsche, and entered the WEC when they already have a car ready? According to Salters, Acura had to “concentrate in the US,” and it was Honda that had the final say on joining series outside the country. However, with the formation of the new HRC US, the two can now share resources and build a car for the WEC and Le Mans.

Honda are part of the numerous vehicle makers returning to the WEC circuit with their inclusion for the 2023 season, in accordance with other prominent arrived such as Ferrari, Porsche, and Cadillac. Lamborghini will mark the start of their foray next year by debuting the SC63 while an Aston Martin Le Mans contender based on the Valkyrie is speculated to be released in 2025.

In addition to WEC involvement, HRC USA’s launching will also reinforce Honda’s F1 program which currently works in collaboration with Red Bull to provide powertrains. In 2026, Honda has agreed with Aston Martin F1 to supply power units instead of the ones provided by Mercedes-AMG. Additionally, Red Bull and Ford have established a partnership during the same year.

HRC United States will mark its first formal outing at the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 27-28, showcasing its Acura ARX-06 adorned in a new HRC paint job and seeking to protect their prior triumph in the very same race of this year.

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