Reliability key to Honda's 2019 IndyCar manufacturers' title

Image by Levitt/LAT

Reliability key to Honda's 2019 IndyCar manufacturers' title


Reliability key to Honda's 2019 IndyCar manufacturers' title


IndyCar’s manufacturers’ championship was settled at the final event of 2019 in an interesting fashion.

On the 17-race scoresheet, Chevrolet and its 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines built by Ilmor Engineering earned the most victories with nine; but in the unique accounting process for the prized championship for auto manufacturers, Honda came out ahead with the season-long victory.

Although Honda Performance Development’s eight wins trailed its rival, the knockout-style point system, which disqualifies entries from scoring manufacturer points after its regular allotment of four engines per season has been exceeded, meant reliability made the difference in how the title was won.

With more of HPD’s front-running drivers able to contribute to the manufacturers’ championship in the final rounds, the Los Angeles-based arm of American Honda took a second consecutive title.

“Back-to-back, and defending champions,” HPD CEO Ted Klaus told RACER. “I’m fond of saying that when you celebrate after a win, it means more when you have a strong competitor. So, to Ilmor and Chevy, hats off to them. And hats off to Team Penske winning the [Drivers’] championship.”

Klaus and his HPD associates celebrated the win for their brand and the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 powerplant manufactured and maintained in Southern California as another SoCal creation — Colton Herta of Harding Steinbrenner Racing — dominated the weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Raised within a few miles of the HPD compound, Herta was a perfect messenger to deliver Honda’s title.

Laguna Seca-winner Herta grew up in HPD’s SoCal back yard. Image by Abbott/LAT

“He’s very close to where we are,” Klaus added. “Bryan and Colton Herta and their family are right down the street from Santa Clarita where we have our own homegrown team at HPD. And to see the growth in all the rookies using Honda power — especially Colton. We wondered could he keep his tires under him? Could the team perform under pressure? And they did it. And they earned it and that also clinched the [Manufacturers’] win for Honda.

“I’m just proud that these young guys are powered by Honda,” Klaus continued.

Chevy, winners of six straight manufacturers’ championships, has watched as Honda moved to the fore in 2018 and again in 2019. Despite missing out on its most valued prize, the Bowtie has taken the last two Indianapolis 500 wins. As one would expect, Chevy and Ilmor will work tirelessly to prevent Honda from winning three in a row on the manufacturers’ side; and when it comes to the Indy 500, Honda is intent on keeping Chevy from a three-peat.

“Obviously, emotions are a little high after this win,” Klaus said. “But we’ve got some unfinished business to address in the off-season.”