Let’s do a quick recap. The Honda HSV-010 GT is powered by a 3.4 litre naturally aspirated V8 that produces more than 500 PS and more than 392 Nm of torque. Exact figures are very ‘top secret’ stuff. The banshee-like wail of the HSV comes from the exhaust manifold’s 8-4-2-1 layout. The racer measures 4,675 mm long and 2,000 mm wide; height remains undisclosed. It weighs at approximately 1,100 kg.
What is established is this – the Honda HSV-010 GT is a very good-looking car. It even has a high octave wail that lets you know that it is coming in for the kill. The fact that it is also talented in speed and handling only helps to seal its predatory reputation that it cemented since Season One.
The HSV-010 GT is now in its third year and it looks stronger than ever. This year, the car features improvements made to the radiator and is now standard with air-conditioning. No, really.
This writer and a select group of journalist sat down earlier with Honda’s Masahiko Matsumoto, the Honda GT Project Leader, and Team Kunimitsu’s Team Director Kunimitsu Takahashi and drivers Takuya Izawa and Naoki Yamamoto. We gained some insight on the car, the team, the drivers and their goals.
Full story after the jump.
Any new developments on the car?
Masahiko Matsumoto (MM): We have further developed the side radiator at the front of the engine and we have reduced the weight of the machine. We’ve also improved the certain aspects of the front and rear and the engine have been upgraded as well.
Different teams use a different setup on different circuits. So where does the HSV perform the best?
MM: The car is made for all circuits, but currently, the car performs best in Suzuka.
Sepang is known to be a hot race. Are there any special preparations that the team and driver have to make?
Kunimitsu Takahashi (KT): No, there are no special settings for the car. We rely on the cheer of the crowd to increase our spirit to drive.
MM: Oh, and the cars are equipped with air-conditioning as well.
How much more weight does the air-conditioning add to the car?
MM: The system adds five to six kilos, and that is the compressor itself. But the weight has been balanced out with lighter parts.
Can you tell us which parts were lightened?
MM: Technically, the ‘cool suit’ is the lightened part of the car. These ‘cool suits’ replace the conventional racing suits, which are heavier. And the new suits effectively balances out the additional weight of the aircon system.
Does the driver have the option to change the temperature of the aircon?
Takuya Izawa: Well, there are three fan settings so we can change some of the setup. The aircon takes power from the engine, so the engine’s power is reduced when it is turned on. We can turn on the aircon if it gets hot inside. It is good to have some air into the helmet, which can become very hot inside. The cool suits are used to cool the body only, which helps a lot.
Do you also use the aircon system in Japan?
MM: Yes, we will be using the system for the majority of the season, especially during the summer months.
Team Kunimitsu is currently leading the season in terms of points. Does the team still think they have edge despite the additional ballast that must be carried in this race?
MM: In the 2nd round, we were carrying 60 kg of ballast, which is huge. We believe that this won’t pose a problem because with the developments made, we may even win in Sepang.
How competitive are Honda’s cars compared to Toyota and Nissan?
MM: For Sepang, well because this race circuit has a lot of corners, Toyota drops out of the equation. So here, you’ll probably see a close fight between Nissan and Honda. Also, there are some un-weighted Honda cars out there, so that is something to look forward to in the race.
Team Kunimitsu, who is your greatest rival?
TK: All teams, drivers and machines are at the same level. But I believe we have the best drivers and with your support, we’d like to win the race this time. I’d like to ask the members of the media for any ideas how can we get the drivers to drive quicker? Any food like durian?
We suggest drinking Tongkat Ali. :)
Honda will again field five teams and five cars this year. Here’s a brief introduction to the five teams:
#8 Autobacs Racing Team Aguri welcomes Ralph Firman back to Super GT. He will be imparting his experience to his younger partner Takashi Kobayashi. Team Director Aguri Suzuki leads.
#18 Weider Honda Racing grabbed pole and went on to win the race last year. New to the team this year is race driver Carlo van Dam who will partner Takashi Kogure. Takuya Nakamura is the Team Director.
#17 Keihin Real Racing is led by Team Director Katsutomo Kameishi. Driving the team’s HSV is Toshihiro Kaneishi and Kodai Tsukakoshi.
#32 Nakajima Racing is unlike the rest of the Honda-powered teams. While the rest are on Bridgestone tyres, Car #32 runs on Dunlop tyres. They believe that the brand of tyre does not determine the performance of the car but from the effort and contribution of every team member. The team names Ryo Michigami and Yuhki Nakayama as their drivers and Satoru Nakajima is the Director of the team.
#100 Team Kunimitsu have the youngest average age drivers. Takuya Izawa is 28 and Naoki Yamamoto is 24. Kunimitsu Takahashi is the Team Director. The team came in second for rounds one and two, scoring 15 points each, which bumped them up the leaderboard.