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Project Acura ILX

 

In 2011, THR-W approached Gary Robinson (Acura Public Relations Manager) with a proposal to campaign two Acura ILXs in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, as a way of showcasing Acura racing spirit and durability. THR-W focuses on endurance racing because of the teamwork, strategy and durability that is required to succeed. The team aspect of endurance racing gives many associates an opportunity to work together outside of their normal development roles.

Honda R & D associates foster relationships and expand their skills from endurance racing which can be directly applied to developing fun-to-drive and dependable road cars. Because the ILX is built in Indiana, it seemed like a great platform for THR-W, because the team could work with the factory and local development experts on the campaign.
 

 

Honda Drivers Continue 2010 SCCA Season Winning Streak

March 20-21, 2010

Team Honda Research and Team Honda Research-West continued their pursuit of 2010 SCCA national championship and SoPac divisional titles last weekend with four more victories at the Gathering of Champions Double National event held at Thunderhill Park in Willows, California.

Sage Marie claimed the T3 class checkered flag in each of the two races in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda S2000, earning qualifying and race track records in the process. Lee Niffenegger finished the weekend with two SSB class wins in his Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si and also set a new qualifying lap record. Matthew Staal piloted his SSB class Honda Racing/HPD BFGoodrich Honda Civic Si to a third place finish on the Saturday race and a second place finish on Sunday in heated battles with Oregon-based Civic Si driver, Eddie Nakato. Nakato finished second and then third in each of the races, respectively, and posted SSB track record on Sunday.Although fast all weekend, an exhaust sound issue threatened to disqualify Marie every session. With a great deal of help from Civic Si driver Eddie Nakato, he was able to fashion a make-shift exhaust silencer from scrap sheet metal. Although it had to be rebuilt for each time on track, it was enough to reduce the S2000’s sound output below the 103db sound limit, allowing Marie to qualify and pole and take victory both days.



Staal was the fast man in SSB qualifying on Saturday, setting an SSB qualifying record, but a setup issue pushed him to third in the race behind Niffenegger and Nakato as his Civic’s balance went away. Niffenegger was able to overcome traffic congestion after the start to work his way past his teammate for the win.

Not to be outdone, Niffenegger reclaimed the SSB qualifying record on Sunday, putting his Civic Si on pole. Nakato qualified second and Staal started third. With his setup issue resolved, Staal was able pass and hold off constant challenges from Nakato and take home second, while Niffenegger lead from flag to flag.

“A lot of credit for another great result once again has to go to the BFGoodrich tires,” said Marie. “I drove on the same set all weekend, and they just seemed to get faster every time on track.” “Many thanks to the guys at Team Honda Research-West who helped us change a clutch and a differential after the last race.”



The trio of Marie, Staal and Niffenegger head to their next race, a double national, at Buttonwillow Raceway on April 24 & 25.

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Little Trouble in Big Willow

Team Honda Research Drivers Take Convincing Victories in the Touring 3 and Showroom Stock B Classes at Big Willow.

Sage Marie leads his Team Honda Research teammates through Turn 4 in the early stages of the race


Team Honda Research (THR) drivers Sage Marie, Lee Niffenegger and Matt Staal drove brilliantly to collect maximum points for the 2010 national championship run-offs during the February 28th Sports Car Club of America National event at Willow Springs International Raceway. Marie won the Touring 3 (T3) class, while Niffenegger and Staal swept the Showroom Stock B (SSB) class with a 1-2 finish.





Matt Staal and Lee Niffenegger hustling their Honda Civic Si Coupes to second- and third- place qualifying efforts in Showroom Stock B
 
 
 
The race at Willow Springs, a.k.a. Big Willow, marked the second consecutive high-speed race for the Team Honda Research (THR) drivers and their vehicles. Although the roval (road course + oval = roval) at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and the big track at Willow Springs are both fast, their layouts are completely different. At Fontana, speeds of 130 miles per hour or more are reached as the cars storm down the back straightaway. While speeds at Big Willow are well over 100 mph, the shorter course length and flowing nature of the track give drivers little time to rest. Niffenegger calls it a "fun 'old-school' track" that he considers one of the bravest in North America, with Mosport in Canada being the other.

 

Inclement weather presented the Team Honda Research drivers with their first challenge of the weekend. The precipitation necessitated a switch to rain tires for the first practice session of the weekend. Two-thirds of the way through practice, Marie experienced trouble with the throttle body of his #4 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda S2000. This would sideline Marie and his S2K for the rest of the day. It also meant he wasn't able to qualify, and would have to start from the rear of the field for the race. Marie and Staal would later trek down to Torrance to pick up a borrowed throttle body from Hondata’s Doug MacMillan, then back to the track in Rosamond to perform the (quick) repair on Saturday evening.

 


 

 

Seen here in qualifying mode, Niffenegger attacks the second part of Turn 4, home of the Budweiser Balcony

 


 
 
Track conditions were better for qualifying as the rain waited until the end of the session to return. Staal qualified his #53 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si Coupe second and Niffenegger placed his #42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si Coupe third. Tom Brecht grabbed the pole in Showroom Stock B with his supercharged #25 R53 MINI Cooper S. Unlike in the race at Fontana, THR drivers would not be starting from the pole positions in their classes in Sunday's race.

 


Civic Si vs. Cooper S - It would only be a handful of laps before the victor would be decided

 


 

 

 
 
Clear, sunny skies presented themselves for the morning warm-up and the race. With the previous day's troubles (rain and a bad throttle body) behind them, the Team Honda Research drivers were poised to drive their way to the tops of their classes. The Showroom Stock B contenders would begin the race in the middle of the pack, while Marie would have to carve his way through many slower vehicles to return to the front of the field.
Staal spent the early laps of the SSB race looking for a way around Brecht's MINI. After a few more laps, Niffenegger caught and passed Staal and set after the MINI. In fewer than two laps, Niffenegger took the SSB class lead and never looked back.
 

Lee Niffenegger barrels down the hill from Turn 4 to Turn 5 with the class lead comfortably in-hand

In the initial stages of his race, Marie safely carved his #4 Honda S2000 through slower traffic consisting of cars in less powerful classes. His primary competition for the weekend was the Mazda RX-8s driven by Lynne Griffiths and Michael Sullivan. Marie's best lap of 1:36.461 was significantly faster than the 1:37.777 and 1:39.834 Griffiths and Sullivan could muster, respectively. (For reference, Niffenegger clicked off a 1:37.641 and Staal turned a 1:38.078 in their Honda Civic Si Coupes.) With the speed he had, Marie made it appear easy to reel in and pass his Touring 3 division competitors. He was also unaffected by the spins of third-place finisher Steve Schmidt and overall race winner Ryan Cashin in their C5 Chevrolet Corvettes.


 



 

Marie approaches Turn 5 with the class win well in- hand

 

 

Back in SSB, the highlight of the second half of the race was Staal's pass of Brecht's MINI for second place, and his defense of the position during the run to the checkered flag. Niffenegger observed that the MINI couldn't keep a consistent pace and fell off as the race progressed. When the race-leading Touring 1 (T1) class Corvettes came to lap the SSB field, Staal keenly realized he could have a great opportunity to get a big run on the MINI as Brecht would have to acknowledge the blue flag and let the faster traffic pass him. Utilizing one of the Corvettes like a fullback, Staal followed a lead block to catch and get around Brecht's Cooper S.

 

Because of the layout of the track, the high-speed right turns taxed the left side tires. "There was one lap when things got hairy for me in Turn Nine," Staal shared after the race. "It felt like I ran over some of the marbles." Staal successfully kept the MINI behind him for the remainder of the race to secure the SSB 1-2 sweep for THR.



Staal accelerates his #53 Honda Civic Si Coupe out of Turn 4 with Brecht's MINI Cooper S trying to keep pace

 

Next up for the Team Honda Research drivers is another fast track, the long straights and fast turns of Thunderhill Raceway on March 13-14. Staal considers it one of his favorite tracks and should have a strong showing there. Marie and Niffenegger are also positioned to do well and keep their winning streaks intact.

-By Loren Wong, Contributing Editor.

TEAM HONDA RESEARCH DRIVERS BEGIN 2010 SCCA NATIONAL CAMPAIGN WITH THREE STRONG FINISHES

TEAM HONDA RESEARCH DRIVERS BEGIN 2010 SCCA NATIONAL CAMPAIGN WITH THREE STRONG FINISHES

 

Sage Marie drove to victory in the Touring 3 class in his Honda S2000 and Lee Niffenegger and Matthew Staal finished first and third in Showroom Stock B in their Honda Civic Si Coupes.

 

FONTANA, California – January 24, 2010 – Team Honda Research Racing drivers Sage Marie, Lee Niffenegger and Matthew Staal opened the 2010 season with strong showings at the Auto Club Speedway in their Team Honda Research-Ohio-prepared vehicles. Piloting the #43 Honda Racing/Honda Performance Development (HPD)/BFGoodrich Tires Honda S2000, Sage Marie led flag-to-flag to a dominant win in the Touring 3 class. Driving the #42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si Coupe, Lee Niffenegger claimed victory by holding off charges from the other Showroom Stock B (SSB) drivers. Staal finished third in SSB despite sustaining moderate damage to the #53 Honda Racing/HPD/BF Goodrich Tires Honda Civic Si Coupe.

 

Marie drove a superb race in his #43 Honda S2000 to a drama-free victory and turned a best lap of 1:55.348. Although he was able to dominate his class, he still had to deal with Chris Qualls’ American Sedan class #73 Ford Mustang in the opening stages of the race. Qualls fell off the pace, however, when the hood of his car became undone due to high speed buffeting. Left unchallenged, Marie was able to focus on driving a clean race until he took the checkered flag.

 

Niffenegger and Staal qualified first and third in their Honda Civic Si Coupes. Sandwiched between the Honda Racing/HPD teammates was Lance Stewart in his #3 Ford Mustang. Because of the rolling start and high speeds afforded by the Auto Club Speedway’s front straightaway, the pole position presented Niffenegger with the challenge of holding off Stewart and his Honda Racing teammate Staal as they headed toward Turn 1’s 14 degrees of banking.

 

The three cars circulated the track in a close pack during the race’s early stages. Staal and Stewart exchanged positions multiple times with much of the action taking place coming off the oval and onto the infield road course. With the hard racing taking place behind him, Niffenegger extended his lead over the two who were battling for second place. The battle came to an end on lap 7 when Staal’s Civic Si Coupe was hit as a result of a braking error by Richard Roberts in his Touring 2 class #5 Pontiac Solstice GXP.

 

Staal’s Civic Si was damaged to the point that he could no longer contend for second place. Staal nursed his car to finish in third place, but knew he definitely could have finished higher. Niffenegger’s best lap was a 1:59.657 and Staal’s was a 1:59.932. The close proximity of their times was another testament to the competitive nature and skill of the Honda Racing/HPD team.

 

The Team Honda Racing-West (THR-W) team of Marie and Staal and THR-Ohio’s Niffenegger will head to Willow Springs International Raceway on February 27-28 to continue their journey to this year’s SCCA National Runoffs. Marie and his S2000 are in a prime position to excel through the fast turns of Big Willow while Staal and Niffenegger will again be class favorites in SSB. The handling capabilities of Marie’s S2000 and Staal and Niffenegger’s Civic Si race cars and their BFGoodrich g-Force R1 tires should pay huge dividends through Turns 8 and 9 and onto the front straight where they will be able to outbrake their competition entering Turn 1.

 

Team Honda Research-West (THR-W) and Team Honda Research-Ohio (THR) are officially-sanctioned employee efforts fielded by Honda associates. They are expressions of the racing spirit Honda has exhibited in all levels of motorsport since its beginning. As enthusiasts, they operate under the mantra, “We develop what we race, and race what we develop,” with the intention of transferring their findings into the development of the “fun-to-drive” Honda products that consumers can purchase.  More information about THR-W is available at http://thrw.hra.com.



Through Honda Racing/HPD, the Honda Racing Line program provides support and incentive programs to Honda and Acura competitors participating in SCCA competition and other forms of grassroots motorsports. Additional details on the Honda Racing Line can be found at http://racing.honda.com/hpd

 

Team Honda Research-West is proud to represent, test and use products from the following companies: Honda Research & Development Americas, Inc., American Honda Motors Corporation, Honda Performance Development, BFGoodrich Tires, The Westside Group, H&R Springs, Brembo Sport, Baja Designs, Inc., AEM, Traqmate, Hondata, APR, Exedy, Recaro, Red Line Oil, Tyga-Box Inc., HMS Motorsport and Schroth Racing safety harnesses, Goodridge, ASR, Cobalt Brakes and King Motorsports.

 

-By Loren Wong, Contributing Editor.

 

THR-W RETURNS TO THE 25 HOURS OF THUNDERHILL RACE THIS WEEKEND.

Team Honda Research – West has entered one of its Acura race cars in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill road race with the goal of finishing on the podium in the very competitive E0 classification.

TORRANCE, Calif. – December 4, 2009

Team Honda Research – West (THR-W) returns to the NASA Pro Racing 25 Hours of Thunderhill race this weekend with the goal of finishing on the podium in the extremely competitive E0 classification.  THR-W has participated in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill since 2004 including collaborations with sister team THR Ohio, finishing 1st, 2nd and 4th in class.  This year’s effort is led by 25 Hours E0 Class Runner-up Lawrence Hwang, who hopes to better his 2008 finish (2nd in class, 3rd overall).  Honda Canada Associate Scott Nichols, retired American Honda Associate Bob Endicott and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Associate Steve Neese will handle driving duties in addition to Hwang.  The race will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday December 5, 2009 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California.  The 25 hour race is the longest endurance road race in the U.S and annually attracts factory supported and top privateer racing teams.  Highlights of the race will be televised on Versus Network on a date to be determined.

THR-W is the officially sanctioned employee road racing team of Honda R&D Los Angeles - comprised entirely of Honda associates who strive to exhibit in themselves and their vehicles the challenging spirit first demonstrated by company founder Soichiro Honda. The team and its sister team THR Ohio is an expression of the challenging spirit that exists within Honda – a racing spirit that is a fundamental part of the company’s DNA.  Operating under the mantra, “We develop what we race, and race what we develop,” the team strives to translate lessons learned on the track into new vehicle development as part of the “fun-to-drive” character found in Honda products.  The fact that Honda associates are themselves enthusiasts and racers is an indication that they have the interests of enthusiasts in mind when they bring new vehicles to market. THR-W was founded in 1996.  Additional information about the team can be found at http://thrw.hra.com.

Through its new Honda Racing Line program, Honda Racing/HPD provides support and incentive programs to Honda and Acura racers competing at the SCCA Runoffs and in other forms of grassroots motorsports competition. Additional details on the Honda Racing Line can be found at http://racing.honda.com/hpd.

Team Honda Research-West is proud to represent, test and use products from the following companies: Honda Research & Development Americas, Inc., American Honda Motor Co., Inc, Honda Racing/HPD, Hoosier Tires, The Westside Group, H&R Springs, Brembo Sport, Baja Designs, Inc., Skunk2, Traqmate, Hondata, APR, Exedy, Recaro, Red Line Oil, Tyga-Box Inc., Prototype Racing, Inc., HMS Motorsport, Schroth Racing safety harnesses, Goodridge, ASR, Porterfield, King Motorsports, and Aquapel Glass Treatment by PPG Industries, Inc.  

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If you would like more information about THR-W or would like to request high resolution photographs please contact John Whiteman at (310) 781-6532 or e-mail John Whiteman at jwhiteman@honda.hra.com

 

TWO THR-W DRIVERS QUALIFY FOR SCCA NATIONAL RUNOFFS

Contact: John Whiteman                                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel. 310.781.6532

Email jwhiteman@honda.hra.com

http://thrw.hra.com

 

TWO THR-W DRIVERS QUALIFY FOR SCCA NATIONAL RUNOFFS

 

Matthew Staal earned two top five finishes at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania to join fellow Team Honda Research-West racer Sage Marie in qualifying for the 2009 SCCA National Runoffs.

 

TORRANCE, Calif. – August 18, 2009 - Team Honda Research-West took another step toward realizing a national championship dream when Matthew Staal became the second THR-W driver to qualify for the 2009 Sports Car Club of America National Runoffs.  Driving a showroom stock SSB class Honda Civic Si, Staal battled a large field to finish 5th and 4th respectively at Pocono in national qualifying races on Saturday and Sunday.  Staal’s strong weekend allows him to join fellow THR-W regular driver Sage Marie, who qualified for the runoffs in a T3 class Honda S2000 with a second- place finish in the Southern Pacific Division championship .  The drivers, who are running in conjunction with Honda Performance Development’s newly created Honda Racing Line, will race at Road America in September at the 2009 SCCA National Runoffs.

 

Staal, who focused on endurance racing in 2007 and 2008, quickly got up to speed by qualifying 4th in class on Saturday.  During the race, mechanical issues slowed the Civic Si forcing Staal to focus on smooth and consistent laps, and saving the car for the second race.  On Sunday, Staal improved his qualifying to 3rd position.  He was able to utilize the Civic Si’s strong acceleration to move into second place before contact interrupted his challenge for the lead.  In turn one, Staal was hit on the passenger side causing him to nearly spin in front of the field of cars.  Staal kept his foot in the throttle and managed to recover the severe over-steer, staying with the front runners to finish fourth. These two strong finishes following Staal’s second-place run at Nelson Ledges Raceway in Ohio in July earned him a starting position in the national runoffs.

 

Matthew Staal is looking forward to representing Honda Racing/HPD along with fellow drivers Lee Niffenegger, Chad Gilsinger, Inness Eisele, Sage Marie and Bob Boileau at Road America for the SCCA National Championships on September 24-27, 2009.

 

Team Honda Research-West is proud to represent, test and use products from the following companies: Honda Research & Development Americas, Inc., American Honda Motors Corporation, Honda Performance Development, Toyo Tires, The Westside Group, H&R Springs, Brembo Sport, Baja Designs, Inc., AEM, Traqmate, Hondata, APR, Exedy, Recaro, Red Line Oil, Tyga-Box Inc., HMS Motorsport and Schroth Racing safety harnesses, Goodridge, ASR, Porterfield, King Motorsports, Aquapel Glass Treatment by PPG Industries, Inc and K1 Speed Karting tracks. 

 

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If you would like more information about THR-W please contact John Whiteman at (310) 781-6532 / jwhiteman@honda.hra.com.  You can also find the team at http://thrw.hra.com or on Facebook.

Team Honda Research West and Kogi BBQ @ Honda Campus!

Team Honda Research West is proud to announce that its Acura RSX-S race car will be displayed along side two of the Kogi BBQ trucks that will be at the Honda campus on Thursday, July 9 from 12 PM to 3 PM. Look for all three vehicles on Harpers Way in Torrance, CA!

 

Team Honda Research - West Acura RSX-S Displayed at K1 Speed Torrance!

Team Honda Research West (THR-W), in association with K1 Speed Torrance, gladly presents the #24 THR-W Acura RSX-S on display at the K1 Speed in Torrance CA.  Look for the #24 car in the lobby of one of Southern California's premiere go kart franchises.  

Become a Facebook Fan of Team Honda Research - West

Become part of the growing group of Team Honda Research - West fans on Facebook!  Join the group now!  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Honda-Research-West-Race-Team/89666196518

 

Team Honda Research - West RSX-S Featured On Autoblog

This past week THR-W was featured on Autoblog during American's 50th Anniversary.

 

 

Welcome to the Team Honda Research - West Official Blog!

See our race car at American Honda's 50th Anniversary Car Show on Friday, June 12th at the Honda Campus in Torrance.

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