Honda motorsport restructuring opens door to WEC, Le Mans bid

It was announced on Thursday that Honda Performance Development, the motorsport arm of American Honda Motor Co. based out of Santa Clarita in California, will join Japan’s Honda Racing Corporation to become HRC US. 

The aim is for one global HRC entity to boast combined expertise as Honda re-enters Formula 1 in 2026 with Aston Martin. With three F1 races now held in America – in Austin, Miami and Las Vegas – the rebranded HRC US will also be involved in F1 power unit development and race support from 2026. 

HPD was established in 1993 to produce engines for the IndyCar Series, and has gone on to claim 280 race wins from 510 races, including 15 victories in the Indianapolis 500. 

In recent years, it has expanded its operations to include IMSA SportsCar Championship competition, scoring three IMSA manufacturers’, drivers’ and teams’ titles since 2018 and three consecutive Daytona 24 Hours victories. 

The collaboration with HRC in Japan means that HPD’s programme with the Acura ARX-06, which runs in the GTP class in IMSA, will have a smoother pathway to becoming a Honda or Acura WEC and Le Mans project.  

Along with its works team, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global, that points to a potential programme outside of the U.S. in 2025, which had been a barrier under the previous set-up due to HPD’s limited remit inside North America.

“Our goal is to increase the HRC brand and sustain the success of our racing activities and we believe that uniting Honda motorsports globally as one racing organisation will help achieve that,” said Koji Watanabe, president of HRC Japan.

“Our race engineers in the U.S. and Japan will be stronger together and I am so happy to welcome our U.S. associates to the HRC team.” 

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque pit stop

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque pit stop

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

David Salters, the president of HPD who will take on the same role of HRC US, added: “Honda’s racing heritage is unparalleled and over the last 30 years and the talented men and women of HPD have contributed to that success in the U.S. 

“We are thrilled and very proud to join forces with our friends and colleagues in HRC Japan and represent Honda Racing as a global racing organisation.

“We will continue to challenge ourselves in U.S. motorsports activities even as we develop our people and technology to compete on a rapidly changing global motorsports stage.” 

The 2024 Daytona 24 Hours on 27-28 January will be the inaugural race for the newly rebranded HRC US, with the Acura ARX-06 LMDhs to sport HRC logos as part of their liveries. 

But the potential to race the car across the globe in the WEC, and at Le Mans, has long been a talking point. 

“We’ve always been very clear – we need to look at WEC,” said Salters.

“We have an amazing ARX-06, which has been the work of our team, [chassis partner] ORECA and our race teams have done a stunning job. So, we’re smitten with it and it’s eligible to go to WEC.  

“We have always said it needs to make business, brand and marketing sense. Very importantly for me, it needs to make competitive sense. We don’t go racing not to be competitive – it’s too hard!

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

“There is a more formal setting to evaluate them now, because we’re all looking at global motorsport, but the boundary conditions are still the same and we need to evaluate if that makes sense, and we’ll do our due diligence to see what makes sense for our company and our people.” 

On the subject of a timeframe for a move into WEC competition, Salters ruled out talk of a programme in 2024, and said: “It’s not been outlined, so we constantly work on that stuff to see what makes sense on where we go in the future.

“We’re looking at future strategies and have no definite timescales at the moment, but we are evaluating it seriously.” 

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