William De Braekeleer, Motorsport Manager at Honda Motor Europe, explains the manufacturer’s strategy behind the WTCC programme.
Why did Honda choose WTCC for its motor sport comeback?
“We wanted to join a racing series that would showcase our production cars. The WTCC offers this and will help us increase awareness and visibility of the Civic in our main markets around the world. Racing the Civic also provides our many customers and fans with thrilling motorsport competition they can easily relate to. WTCC is a well promoted, worldwide championship and the perfect fit for our marketing and engineering needs. Indeed, Honda R&D has developed a bespoke engine for this programme, featuring new technologies which we hope in the future will be adapted for our production cars.”
Instead of using the current season only for testing, you will join the championship in the last three events. Why?
“Being ready to race at Suzuka this year has been our focus since we started in February. Though this puts us under additional pressure, it is really important for Honda to take part in the event that marks the 50th anniversary of the circuit. We want to celebrate just one of the many achievements of that visionary man who was Soichiro Honda. Not many people know this, but he created the Suzuka Circuit before the first motorway was built in Japan and it was the very first racing circuit in Asia. By a nice coincidence, this also allows us to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Civic. The races at Suzuka will certainly be full of emotion for us and we would like to share this with our many fans”
Other manufacturers used WTCC to establish customer teams. Will Honda do the same?
“This is definitely our goal and we are currently in negotiations with several teams to supply cars. However, especially in the first year, we need to favour quality over quantity and will therefore limit sales. We have yet to make a final decision, but we are thinking about fielding a maximum of five cars, including the works team.”