With an eye towards 2017, Honda Performance Development is looking to upgrade its existing P2-based powerplant to a larger displacement unit for next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
HPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Eriksen confirmed the California-based manufacturer is exploring the possibility of moving from the 2.8-liter to a 3.5-liter version of its twin-turbo V6 engine.
“We are looking at that,” Eriksen told Sportscar365. “If you look at the 2017 direction on engines, it’s a whole new set of regulations.
“Our 2.8 liter was picked based on ACO regulations. When you look at the table and the boost and displacement and all that, we picked it based on that set of constraints.
“Now in 2017 and beyond, we’ve got a new set of constraints. We’re having a fresh look at it whether we want to revisit or change some things.”
Eriksen said the proposed upgrade would have to go through through IMSA’s homologation process, as detailed in the rules, and would only be eligible for competition in the WeatherTech Championship.
Its existing Honda HR28TT engine would continue to be used in ACO-run series next year, the final season prior to the introduction of a spec Gibson-built engine for the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.
“We’re having some discussions with IMSA to see if it would be viable, whether they would be in support of or accept it,” Eriksen said.
“Our engine in 3.5 liter form already exists. We’re running it in World Challenge in the TLX and it was in the DP. It’s not an unknown by any means.
“For us, it would be a very simple swap if we go down that road. It’s pretty much a turn-key option. We just need to explore whether that’s the right answer going forward.”
Eriksen said the Honda HR35TT engine is perfectly capable of achieving the the FIA, ACO and IMSA’s 2017 performance target of 600 horsepower and has already completed durability testing for DP competition.
It’s understood there could be up to two additional Honda-powered prototypes on the grid in the WeatherTech Championship next year, with Michael Shank Racing already confirming a return with at least one Ligier JS P2 Honda.
While a deal has yet to be reached, HPD has continued discussions on its IMSA involvement for 2017, which could see the creation of custom bodywork and a possible increased factory supported presence.
Eriksen said one of the potential link-ups could be with Onroak Automotive, one of four approved LMP2 chassis constructors for the new regulations.
“We’re going to meet with Jacques [Nicolet] on Friday,” he said. “They’ve definitely been a good partner with us. We’re happy to work together.
“Riley has also been a good partner with us; we’ve worked together with them in the past with the DP car.
“I think the good thing is that we’ve got some options. It’s really about what works best for American Honda, because we’re there to serve their brand enhancement initiatives.”