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Honda DP Engine Poised for Sebring Debut

3.5-liter V6 turbo Honda DP engine being prepared for Sebring debut…

Photo: Darren Pierson

Photo: Darren Pierson

After having been quietly developed for months behind the scenes, Honda’s new DP engine is soon set to be unleashed to the public as the latest offering for the Prototype class.

Sportscar365 has learned that a 3.5-liter V6 turbo, a variant of HPD’s ALMS and FIA WEC championship-winning LMP2 powerplant, will begin on-track testing in the next few weeks, with the intentions of making its race debut at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

“We were hopeful to have it for Daytona but we understand why IMSA made the decision they did,” HPD technical director Roger Griffiths told Sportscar365. “We were unable to make the Roar test and it would have been unfair to other manufacturers just to show up here with no performance balancing.

“They needed to see the car run [to balance it]. We had hoped to shake it down before Christmas and that wasn’t the case.”

The California-based manufacturer has been working closely with an existing team, believed to be Starworks Motorsport, on the installation of the first engine. When asked to confirm, team owner Peter Baron declined comment.

Starworks won the 2012 FIA WEC LMP2 title with a HPD ARX-03b car but has since focused exclusively on DP and Prototype Challenge machinery in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. It fielded a Dinan-powered Riley DP at Daytona, which retired with engine failure caused by a seized oil pump.

“We have to rely on the support of an existing team to provide a car and help us with the engine integration,” Griffiths explained. “So we’ll work with them on that aspect. There’s no plan to have bespoke Honda bodywork. As much as we’d like to do it, those kind of decisions are not made at HPD’s level.”

While plans are being put into place on the team side, Griffiths said they are nearing final approval from IMSA.

Griffiths is hopeful of providing additional customers with DP power plants at some point in the future and sees this as a new avenue for the versatile engine, which has been used in the Baja 1000, Pikes Peak Hill Climb as well as Super GT300 competition, among others. In DP form, the J35 engine returns to its stock displacement of 3.5 liters.

“The market is there,” Griffiths said. “People have come to us and said, ‘Has Honda got an interest in doing that?’ We obviously have a fairly refined package with the V6 turbo engine. It is highly configurable. There are variety of different versions of that engine out there racing. It’s not too hard to create a new package.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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