Honda is confident that it will offer a stern test to IndyCar rival Chevrolet when they go head to head at the Indianapolis 500 later this month.
Honda has struggled to match Chevy’s outright performance on road and street courses during the opening races of the season. It does, though, leads the manufacturers’ championship after Chevrolet incurred points penalties when it was forced to make a series of unapproved engine changes due to a batch of potentially-faulty valve springs following the opening race at St Petersburg.
Honda openly admits that the Indy 500 is its primary target for 2015, and HPD vice-president and COO Steve Eriksen told AUTOSPORT that he is confident in the work that has been done on both the engine and the aero fronts.
“If we come up short, it won’t be for a lack of focus or effort,” he said. “It will just be because they [Chevy] had a better idea about something that we didn’t think of.
“But we put in an enormous effort, both on the chassis side – which is obviously a big side – but also on the engine side. We made huge gains during the off-season and we’re pretty pleased with where we think we’re going to be for Indy. In 2012, 2013, 2014, each year we become wiser about how we approach it, and we’re taking all of that into account to make sure that we’re ready to go.”
Honda goes into this year’s 500 as the defending winner following Ryan Hunter-Reay’s victory last year. Efforts to defend that win extended to using the speedway configuration of its aero kit as the base version, and then developing the road course version from that.
“We started with the speedway car,” Eriksen said. “We made the very best speedway car that we could, and then added on the bits to make downforce [for road courses].”
There was little to separate the two manufacturers when the speedway kits ran together for the first time during Sunday’s open test at IMS. Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya ended the day fastest in a Chevrolet-powered car, but Marco Andretti was just 0.5mph slower in the quickest Honda.