Honda Hints at IRL Stay

A leading Honda executive has hinted that the Japanese manufacturer could stay in the IRL beyond next season

Honda Hints at IRL Stay

Dan Wheldon's victory in yesterday's race at Pikes Peak meant that Honda secured their second consecutive IRL Manufacturers¡ Championship with four races remaining. It was their ninth win of the season.

It had been expected that Honda would withdraw from the series after 2006 because they did not want to be the sole manufacturer in the sport. Chevrolet is withdrawing at the end of this season, and Japanese rival Toyota will quit at the end of 2006.

However, Honda Performance Development president Robert Clarke confirmed that the company still had to consider their options. He said: "Now that the direction of things seems to be more clear, it's time for Honda to consider what they are going to do.

"I can tell you that we've been very pleased with the relationship we've had with the Indy Racing League, what we've gotten out of it today. We're not looking to leave. I'll leave you at that."

Honda's championship clinching win came exactly ten years after their first victory in American open wheel racing, after Andre Ribeiro took their first win in New Hampshire's Champ Car race in 1995.

Wheldon's team boss Michael Andretti finished second in that race, and said he knew then how big an impact Honda would have on the sport and even tried to convince Newman/Haas bosses to run the engine the following season.

Andretti said: "As a competitor, I hated going up against them because I knew that they're the best. That's why it was so nice to finally join forces and be a part of the Honda family. I mean, the way they commit themselves and everything, you know, their record is not by accident.

"It scared me at that time. I remember I was very nervous, in fact to the point where I tried to get Honda engines in our car for the following year. But, unfortunately, the team owner had another idea."

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