Honda Racing Team JAS principal Alessandro Mariani says his team is fully focused on fighting for the World Touring Car Championship title this season after concluding its pre-season development tests.
After competing in the final three rounds of the 2012 season with a single car for Tiago Monteiro, Honda expands to a two-car team for 2013, with Gabriele Tarquini joining Monteiro at the wheel of the new Civic.
Having completed two three-day tests in Spain, at Valencia and Motorland Aragon, the Honda crew is now looking forward to the season opener at Monza next month, with Mariani saying he was hopeful that a strong year lies ahead.
“I am very proud of the great job that Honda and our staff have done to get us ready for the 2013 Championship,” he said, “and [I'm proud] of the team spirit we've created, which will be essential to get us through the challenging campaign ahead.
“Whilst we know it will be extremely difficult as a newcomer to win the Championship this year, for Honda and racing fans around the world, we are making this our goal.”
As well as the work on track, the team has also carried out development work in Honda's wind tunnel in Japan in its attempt to extract as much performance as possible from the new car, which has undergone a number of improvements over the off-season.
“To overtake the car in front with less than 50cm between them our drivers need to react in a fraction of a second, so they need the guarantee of an instant response from the engine and car,” Daisuke Horiuchi, the WTCC Development Project Leader at Honda R&D, said. “To achieve this, we've focused our development on improving the driveability of the car. We also fine-tuned the engine to give the drivers greater control, so they can drive in whatever style they wish.
“This has involved, amongst other work, various improvements to the fine controls of the turbocharger's turbine revolution, the turbo-boost control and the pick-up of the engine rev. We also worked on the shape of the intake port, optimising the intake manifold length as well as modifying the ignition system.”
Alongside the factory team, the Zengo Motorsport team will run a single Civic for Hungarian racer Norbert Michelisz.