Hot on the heels of arch-rival Toyota, Honda announced a new hybrid racer to compete in the GT300 class of the popular Super GT championship from the summer of 2012. Developed in conjunction with Mugen, it is very loosely based on the hybrid CR-Z road car. Effectively a silhouette racer, only some elements from the chassis and the overall exterior design have been carried over from the road car.
Among the many substantial changes is the relocation of the engine from directly in front of the cockpit to right behind it. To accommodate these modifications, much of the chassis has been replaced by a tubular spaceframe structure. Bolted onto the heavily revised frame is a full racing suspension, consisting of double wishbones and push-rod actuated dampers and springs. The stock brakes have also been discarded in favour of ventilated, carbon-ceramic discs on all four corners.
The relocated drivetrain is also quite a departure from the road going CR-Z, which uses a modest four cylinder engine, aided by an electric motor. The GT300 machine combines the twin-turbo V6 used in LMP2 with Honda's racing hybrid system. Heavily restricted to meet the regulations, the 2.8 litre engine produces just under 300 bhp. The hybrid system can add up to 67 bhp to that figure. This power is transferred to the rear wheels through a six-speed, sequential gearbox.
With the exception of the stock roof and doors, the sophisticated racer is clothed in a bespoke, silhouette body. Despite being substantially wider, the overall shape still resembles the CR-Z road car. The rear features a very long diffuser, which allows the sizeable rear wing to be mounted well behind the tail of the car. Due to the location of the engine, rearward visibility is very limited. This is solved by equipping the car with a rearview camera, which is connected to a small screen in the cockpit.
The first Mugen CR-Z GT was ready in the spring of 2012 and extensively tested by former Indy racer Hideki Mutoh. The new racer made its debut at round 4 of the Super GT Championship at Sugo. With Mutoh joined behind the wheel by Daisuke Nakajima, the CR-Z GT qualified ninth and eventually finished the race 16th, three laps behind the GT300 class winning Nissan GT-R. The new Honda did manage to clock the fastest lap of the race.
Helped in part by the lack of handicap weight, the CR-Z GT continued that good form at the following Suzuka round where Mutoh placed it on pole position. Reliability issues dropped the car down the order to 11th in the race. At its most recent outing Mutoh and Nakajima managed to convert a third place starting position, into the car's first podium finish. They ended the race in third, behind the Toyota Prius and the class winning Porsche 911 GT3.