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  Honda RA106

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Country of origin:Japan
Produced in:2006
Source:Company press release
Last updated:February 13, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionHonda has tackled the change from V10 to V8 engine by starting from the ground-up with an entirely new design. The development team started on the new concept right after the new rules were introduced over a year ago, and the first track test of a V8 was conducted last April at Mugello, to confirm the various characteristics of a V8 and its interaction with the chassis. Intensive dyno work on further prototypes followed, first in Japan and, since October, in the UK. The team also ran the engine in its Concept car at three tests before the end of 2005.

During the course of development, Honda has been able to draw on its experiences in developing engines for racing in North America. The 10,300 rev limit on engines in the IRL meant that it was work in the 1990's on CART engines (which have no such restrictions) that gave the more useful pointers. In particular, at a certain rev range, resonance frequencies can cause problems with vibrations in a V8, and Honda's CART experience helped it get over this particular hurdle.

As well as the huge change from 10 to 8 cylinders, the development team has also had to adapt to new regulations such as minimum weight and crank heights, plus the banning of certain materials and of variable intake trumpets. The last of these measures will make the optimum torque range narrower, so the designers put a lot of work into improving the torque characteristics in the rev range of the engine just after upshifting. In general, drivability is expected to be more of a challenge, which will favour those drivers with a smoother style.

As well as the challenges in designing the engine itself, of course, Honda engineers have also had to look at how the new unit will affect the package as a whole. Designers in Japan and Brackley have worked very closely together to minimise any negative impact the higher vibrations of the V8 have on areas such as hydraulics and gearbox systems. All these systems have been running reliably in the Concept car in testing so far, which is testament to the good teamwork built up over the years.

Overall, the challenge has been to work within the new regulations to produce an engine with the same reliability as the V10s, which revs to at least the same level. The team is on target to achieve that for the first race, which will provide a good platform for the rest of the season.

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  Article Image gallery (6) Specifications