The automotive is a one-off construct – which appears to be like like a reimagining of a Group B rally automotive – and was conceptualised by the engineering brainboxes at Honda Efficiency Growth in Santa Clarita, California.
Constructed at Honda’s Automotive Growth Heart in Ohio by the Honda of America Racing Group, ‘The Beast’ is being unleashed within the wild at chosen IndyCar occasions this yr, and we took our flip on the most fabled of all American avenue circuits – Lengthy Seaside.
On the entrance finish, forward of the cabin, are the suspension and brakes from an Acura NSX GT3, so there may be loads of front-end grip to steadiness the compact SUV. Within the center, atop the tubeframe chassis, is a typical, sixth-generation CR-V metal physique straight off the manufacturing line – it even has a sunroof!
On the again, it’s just about a whole IndyCar rear finish by way of engine, suspension and gearbox, with the hybrid’s supercapacitors (positioned on high) and motor generator unit bolted on to the again.
Having admired the engineering, Autosport acquired racesuited and booted with helmet and HANS system on, and it’s fairly a squeeze via the butterfly doorways into the passenger bucket racing seat to get strapped into the protection harness. Hinchliffe then jumps on board, and after a handshake and pleasantries, we’re good to go.
Identical to the Hybrid GTP automobiles within the IMSA SportsCar Championship which might be additionally racing at Lengthy Seaside, we begin rolling on electrical energy solely – which acts as a starter for the 600hp-plus twin-turbo V6. On the flick of a change, the ICE fires and Hinchcliffe nails his proper foot to the bulkhead and, concurrently, the again of my helmet to the headrest.
To maintain the race organisers comfortable, he’s not taking this mad machine to its high pace, however Hinch continues to be booting it for all its price via the gears to fourth after which cruising alongside Shoreline Drive and the again straight. However that’s a superb alternative to regen that hybrid system for added punch off the corners!
Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer element
Photograph by: Charles Bradley
Working on treaded Firestone rubber, the automotive skips and hops off the kerbs as Hinchcliffe expertly wheels it round – “It’s acquired various grip,” he says – and actually will get his elbows out within the slower part across the fountain, which follows the massive braking zone for Flip 1. The partitions zap previous simply inches from my shoulders, and I’m relieved my chauffeur is a six-time IndyCar Sequence race winner, who signed off his profession right here in 2021 earlier than taking on the mic within the TV sales space.
They’ve been racing round these streets since 1975, and Lengthy Seaside held Formulation 1 grands prix between ’76 and ’83, earlier than turning into a staple of Indy automotive racing. It’s superb to get this view of the observe at pace, and I may even spot my resort room window on the run into the right-hander down Pine Avenue!
After two laps of creating a number of wheelspin, slides and loud noises to entertain the early-bird followers on raceday morning, we coast again within the pitlane and fistbump earlier than climbing out. “Enjoyable, isn’t it?” smiles Hinch. Sure, it definitely is. We’ve a fast chat about the place IndyCar is heading with its hybrid future in 2024, which will likely be primarily based alongside an identical supercapacitor traces, earlier than Hinchcliffe departs to name the Grand Prix for NBC.
Earlier, the Canadian had checked with HPD’s Steve Gough on the burden of The Beast and is instructed “3000 kilos however we’ve acquired extra horsepower”. Hinch provides: “The IndyCars are fairly heavy, and naturally that is heavier, however once you’re out of the nook and get the facility down, it’s superb – this factor actually will get up and goes.”
Autosport bumps into HPD president David Salters within the IndyCar paddock straight after my run in what he likes to name “a beast in sheep’s clothes”.
“Sounds good, doesn’t it?” he grins. “When it goes from electrical to ICE, it’s like Tron turning into the Voice of God!”
Nearly 800hp is unleashed by that 2.2-litre, twin-turbo V6 motor, coupled to an enormous field of Skeleton Applied sciences supercapacitors and the Empel MGU [which protrudes from the rear of the powertrain] that both provides energy or regenerates at pace because it fits. The ICE additionally runs on Shell’s 100% renewable race gas, so it’s acquired sustainability credentials too.
All of it provides as much as loads of enjoyable… Go and see it for your self at chosen IndyCar avenue and highway course occasions.
Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer
Photograph by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images