Pikes Peak always brings out an array of interesting entries. Honda has fielded quite a few of its own, but will take the unusual step this year of entering a Le Mans prototype.
The new ARX-04b is the latest in a line of prototypes which Honda Performance Development and Wirth Research developed to compete in the LMP2 class in series like the FIA World Endurance Championship, the United SportsCar Series and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Though it’s designed to race on closed circuits, Honda has announced that it’ll be taking on the 156 turns and 12.42 miles of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year.
Driving duties will be handled by Justin Wilson, an accomplished British circuit racer who’s competed in Formula One and won races in the IndyCar Series and in Champ Cars before it. He’s also tried his hand at Formula E and competed in Le Mans prototypes before as well.
Though it will be entered in the Unlimited class, it won’t be gunning directly for the record set by Sébastien Loeb two years ago in the Peugeot 208 T16. At least not just yet. “This is an exploratory effort,” said HPD chief Art St. Cyr, “to learn as much as we can in advance of a possible future assault on the outright record.” We’re looking forward to seeing what she’ll do when the event takes place later this month. Honda-Powered HPD ARX-04b to tackle Pikes Peak
Jun 17, 2015 – TORRANCE, Calif.
– Indy car veteran, race winner Justin Wilson to pilot LMP2 machine
– New coupe design debuted at 24 Hours of Daytona
– Utilizes production-based 3.5 liter Honda V6 engine
A number of different types of Honda and Acura vehicles have taken part in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in recent years, ranging from the Acura NSX to the Honda Fit, and even a high-speed Honda Odyssey, but Honda Performance Development has upped the ante this year by entering one its newest sports cars in the race up the 14,110-foot mountain.
The new Honda-powered HPD ARX-04b LMP2 coupe that competed in this year’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona has been entered in the 2015 Pikes Peak event, and will be driven by Verizon IndyCar Series race winner and former Formula 1 driver Justin Wilson.
The ARX-04b will be the first full-carbon monocoque vehicle ever sanctioned for PPIHC entry and will be fitted with a 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbocharged engine. The ARX-04b will compete in the Unlimited class, which features highly-modified cars that can navigate the 156 turns of the 12.42-mile course in under 10 minutes.
“This is an exploratory effort, to learn as much as we can in advance of a possible future assault on the outright record [8:13.878, set by Sebastien Loeb in 2013]. We want to see how well our ARX-04b chassis adapts to the rigors of the Climb, and the high-altitude demands placed on our production-based V6 engine,” said Art St. Cyr, President of Honda Performance Development. “The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has always been an interesting project for many Honda divisions. The diversity of classes and very open nature of the rulebook continues to be very appealing to Honda and the passions of its associates.
“We’re looking forward to this. We hope to have a lot of fun, and we’re certainly not holding back with Justin Wilson behind the wheel. We think the fans will enjoy the show, as well.”
The ARX-04b, which was developed through a joint effort between HPD and Wirth Research, features energy-efficient technology with low drag and high fuel efficiency and quick change front and rear bodywork. It will be in the capable hands of Wilson, who has made 171 combined starts in Indy Car and Champ Car competition, with seven wins and eight poles.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun driving the Honda ARX-04b up the hill and giving it everything I’ve got,” Wilson said. “This is my first time competing at Pikes Peak and I’m really looking forward to the experience. I’ve run with Honda at the Indy GP and the ‘500’ this year, and also have run Formula E and at the 12 Hours of Sebring. But this will be every bit as difficult as any of them. I’m looking forward to the challenge and working with everyone at Honda.”
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place on June 28, with practice and qualifying taking place on various sections of the course from Tuesday to Friday. Fans can follow the progress and see photos and information from the Honda Racing efforts at Pikes Peak via Twitter [https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD] and Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD].