The Japanese automaker is seriously considering a WEC entry with the foundation of HRC US.
Toyota has long dominated the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, though Ferrari won the latest edition after five decades of absence. Another Japanese marque, Honda, could make the slugfest more interesting through the newly-established Honda Racing Corporation USA (HRC US).
HRC US is a joint venture of two independent racing arms - Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) in Sakura, Japan, and Honda Performance Development (HPD) in Santa Clarita, CA. The aim is to expand Honda's motorsport presence globally, with the 24 Hour of Le Mans a strong possibility.
HRC was established in 1982 as Honda's motorcycle racing arm and later started managing the automaker's Formula 1 program. Meanwhile, HPD was established in 1993 as a separate racing arm to take on IndyCar, IMSA, Baja Off-Road, Touring Cars, and Formula Regional America.
The Drive spoke with HPD president Dave Salters regarding more details about the new and expanded motorsports program. He said there are still plenty to discuss behind closed doors but assured a World Endurance Championship (WEC) entry could happen.
"Not everything has been decided but we are excited about the opportunities in F1 and possibly WEC. We will promote Honda and Acura here, there, and everywhere."
However, despite the existence of the Acura ARX-06 LMDh hypercar - a far cry from the brand's most potent roadgoing car, the Acura NSX - the 2024 WEC season appears to be "too soon" for HRC US. The question is why Acura hasn't entered the WEC like Cadillac and Porsche if it already has a car? Salters said Acura had to "concentrate in the US," and it was Honda that had the final word for joining series outside the country. With the establishment of the new HRC US, the two can now share resources for building a car for the WEC and Le Mans.
Honda will follow the flock of automakers rejoining the WEC grid from the 2023 season, including Ferrari, Porsche, and Cadillac. Lamborghini will debut next year with the SC63, while an Aston Martin Le Mans racer based on the Valkyrie is reportedly coming in 2025.
Apart from WEC, the new HRC US will also bolster Honda's F1 program that supports Red Bull powertrains, currently facilitated by HRC. From 2026, Honda will supply power units to the Aston Martin F1 team, replacing the Mercedes-AMG engines, while Red Bull has partnered with Ford from the same year.
HRC US will celebrate its first official outing at the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 27-28, at which the Acura ARX-06 will sport a new HRC livery in the hopes of defending their Rolex 24 at Daytona victory from earlier this year.