HPD-Honda equipped Extreme Speed Motorsports celebrated a second consecutive World Endurance Championship podium finish Sunday at the Shanghai International Circuit, finishing second in the LMP2 category in the final race of the season for both the Florida-based team and Honda Performance Development.
Starting sixth with Ryan Dalziel at the wheel, the #30 HPD ARX-03b Honda quickly vaulted to second, and would hold that position for the majority of the six-hour contest, despite an unscheduled pit stop to refasten a loose bodywork panel during teammate Scott Sharp's opening stint.
With Ricardo Gonzalez joining the lineup for Shanghai, strong stints from all three drivers in the second half of the contest brought the ESM Honda to the checkers second to the class-winning G-Drive Ligier in the LMP2 category, and 10th overall. It marked the second consecutive podium result for Extreme Speed, following a third-place WEC debut in September at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas
ESM's second HPD prototype, started fifth by David Brabham and co-driven by Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek, gained one position in the opening laps and also completed a steady, consistent race to take the checkers fifth in LMP2 and 13th overall.
The HPD-developed Honda engine used in the WEC – and in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – is derived from the Honda "J35" series of production V6 engines and includes relevant twin-turbocharger technology, along with the efficiency provided by direct fuel injection. Key production-based components utilized in the HR28TT include block and heads, direct injection fuel system, valve train components, drive-by-wire throttle, alternator, sensors, fasteners, etc. The engine even utilizes a stock Honda oil filter.
HPD's prototype racing efforts have resulted in more than 60 victories and multiple American Le Mans Series championships. HPD won the LMP2 title in the inaugural 2012 World Endurance Championship and won the LMP2 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 2010 and 2012.
Today's race in Shanghai completed the 2014 sports car season for Honda Performance Development. Meanwhile, construction of the new HPD ARX-04b Honda coupes has already begun, with the new cars scheduled to make their public debut at the pre-season "Roar before the 24" open test January 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway. The 2015 HPD sports car season kicks off January 24 with the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Scott Sharp (Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda) finished 2nd in LMP2 and 10th overall: "It was a great day. The Honda prototypes had very good pace, all six drivers performed very well, and the team had good stops and good strategy. Coming into just our second WEC event, and first overseas race, our goal was at least one podium finish and we nailed it! We learned so much, both on- and off-track, including the logistics just to get us here. I think racing WEC in China was everything we hoped it to be. All in all, this was a positive weekend and a great day for the team."
Ryan Dalziel (Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda): "What a way to continue our WEC campaign – a third place at COTA and a second place here – it was a great result. We definitely worked hard for that finish and we deserved it. This is probably the last race for the HPD ARX-03b at this level, so I'm happy we could get Honda a nice podium before we retire her. The entire team was flawless. We were forced to pit Scott [Sharp] early to fix loose bodywork, and that turned our race into a seven-stop race, one more than the others. But we managed to hammer down and get a big enough gap to make our second stop and maintain second place. It was a good send-off for the old [open top] HPD; she's been good to us over the years. We're really looking forward to the new [coupe] chassis and an exciting 2015."
Allen Miller (Prototype Project Leader, Honda Performance Development) on Sunday's season-finale race: "Both the ESM team and our HPD engineers performed admirably today, and adapted well to the unique requirements of racing overseas. It was a pretty uneventful race, no dramas, which is just what we wanted! The team did a really good job on all of the pit stops, and recovered well after Scott Sharp had to make an extra stop in the #30 car when a shock cover came loose and had to be re-attached. The second-place finish was a fitting reward for the #30, while the #31 car also had a steady, consistent race to finish fifth. It's been a good season, but we're already looking forward to 2015, and will soon begin testing our new HPD ARX-04b coupe in preparation for the "Roar before the 24" test and the season-opening 24 Hours of Daytona."