Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has just announced plans for its motorsports activities for the 2018 season together with some initiatives to expand the popularity of motorsports.
Since the days of its founding, Honda has been engaged in various motorsports activities in pursuit of being the best in the world. Last year, in the area of motorcycle racing, Honda captured the “Triple Crown” – rider, constructor and team championships – in the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). In the FIM Trial World Championship (WCT), Honda won the championship for the 11th consecutive year. Moreover, Honda also dominated the top class of the three categories of motorcycle races in Japan, namely the JSB1000 class of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship (JRR), the IA1 (450cc) class of the MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship and the IAS class of the MFJ All-Japan Trial Championship (JTR).
Furthermore, in the area of automobile racing, Takuma Sato became the first Asian driver to win the prestigious Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500) in the 101st running of the race.
In 2018, under the corporate slogan of “The Power of Dreams,” Honda will take on continuous challenges while always being determined to win.
2018 Motorcycle Activities and Teams
In MotoGP, the premier class of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, Marc Márquez, the four-time World Champion who won the championship in 2017 for the second consecutive year, and Dani Pedrosa, a 13-year veteran in this class, will continue to race for Repsol Honda Team, a Honda factory team, riding the 2018 model of the RC213V factory machine.
In addition, four other riders will compete in MotoGP, namely Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) who is moving up to the MotoGP class this season, Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Lüthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS).
With a total of three teams with six riders, Honda will strive to win the MotoGP “Triple Crown” – rider, constructor and team championships.
In the Moto3 class, where Honda won the championship last year, Honda will supply its 2018 model of the NSF250RW factory machine for 7 teams/13 riders and strive to win the championship for the second consecutive year.
In the MXGP class, the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship, Tim Gajser, who finished the 2017 season in 5th place and Brian Bogers, who newly joined the team this season from the MX2 class, will race for Team HRC, Honda’s factory team. Both riders will ride the 2018 model of the CRF450RW factory machine and strive to regain the championship title. Moreover, in the MX2 class, Calvin Vlaanderen will race for Team HRC, riding a CRF250RW works machine and vie for the title.
In the FIM Trial World Championship (WCT), as with last year, Toni Bou, the reigning champion for the last 11 seasons, and Takahisa Fujinami, a 24-year veteran in WCT will race for Repsol Honda Team, a Honda factory team, riding the COTA4RT factory machine.
In the 450SX class of the AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Cole Seely and Ken Roczen will race for Team Honda HRC, Honda’s factory team operated by American Honda Motor Co., Inc., a Honda subsidiary in the U.S. With the 2018 model of CRF450R, the riders will vie for the championship.
In the FIM Superbike World Championship (WSB), Leon Camier and Jake Gagne will race with the CBR1000RR SP2-based racing machine for Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team supported by Honda Motor Europe Ltd., a Honda subsidiary in the U.K.
In the Suzuka 8 hours Endurance Road Race, which is the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC), starting this year’s race, Takumi Takahashi will race for Team HRC, Honda’s factory team. Honda will select other riders for the team from among Honda riders who compete in the world and regional championships.
In the SS600 class of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC), Md Zaqhwan Zaidi who finished the 2017 season in second place, Azroy Anuar, who newly joined from IATC and Tomoyoshi Koyama, also new addition to the team who captured second place in the AP250 class in 2017, will race for MuSASHi Boon Siew Honda Racing, a team striving to regain both the team and rider titles. Moreover, in the AP250 class, Astra Honda Racing Team will race for their consecutive championship.
In the JSB1000 class of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship (JRR), starting this season, Takumi Takahashi will begin racing for Team HRC, Honda’s factory team, riding a CBR1000RR SP2-based racing machine. In addition, Sodo Hamahara (Team Sakurai Honda), Tatsuya Yamaguchi (Team SuP Dream Honda) will race from this season. Yuki Takahashi and Ryuichi Kiyonari (MORIWAKI MOTUL RACING), Kosuke Akiyoshi (au & Teluru MotoUP Racing) will continue to race in this class for their respective teams. Moreover, Ryo Mizuno (MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO.Honda), the 2017 J-GP2 champion, will move up and face the JSB1000 class and Md Zaqhwan Zaidi will race for a new team, Honda Asia-Dream Racing.
In the IA1 class of the MFJ All-Japan Motocross Championship(JMX), Kei Yamamoto, the 2017 champion, will team up with Akira Narita who has won 11 championships in JMX series and race for Team HRC, Honda’s factory team, riding the CRF450RW factory machine, and strive to win a second consecutive championship title in this class. Moreover, in the IA2 class, Chihiro Notsuka, who has won IA2 championship in 2016 season, will race for Team HRC.
In the IAS class of the MFJ All-Japan Trial Championship (JTR), Tomoyuki Ogawa, who won his seventh championship title last year, will race for HRC CLUB MITANI riding the RTL300R and vie for the championship title for the sixth consecutive year, which is unprecedented in the IAS class.
Automobile Activities and Teams
Honda will compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship (F1) as a power unit supplier for Toro Rosso Honda (tentative) with two drivers, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.
In the GT500 class of the SUPER GT, as with last year, Honda will compete with five teams/five machines. Honda will vie for titles by further maturing the NSX-GT which was introduced in 2017. Moreover, Jenson Button, who made his SUPER GT debut at the Suzuka 1000km last year will become the first F1 champion to compete for a full season in SUPER GT.
In the Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship (SF), with the new addition of Shinji Matsushita who has been advancing his skills in the FIA Formula 2 Championship (F2) which is positioned as one of the gateways to the F1 and Nirei Fukuzumi, who began competing in the GP3 Series in 2016, Honda will strive to capture the dual titles of driver and team championships with its five teams/eight machines.
In the IndyCar Series in North America, Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is planning to supply the HI18TT, 2.2-litre V6 twin turbo engines for 12 machines raced by five teams. Takuma Sato, in his ninth season, will return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and vie for the Indy500 championship for the second consecutive year as well as the series championship.
NSX-GT3, a racing machine based on a production NSX model announced last year, will be competing in a number of GT championships and endurance races around the world such as North America, Europe and Japan, and a Civic TCR will be competing in the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), a new series which takes over the WTCC, as well as other touring car races around the world through customer teams. Not only supplying these racing machines but also enhancing customer support structure, Honda will work with each team and take on challenges to empower more teams to enjoy highly competitive racing.