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March 28, 2014

Mark Crawford

THE MODERATOR:  Good morning.  Welcome to 2014.  Thanks for making the time to be with us today.  We're going to be doing these types of media briefings periodically throughout the season.  We hope you'll join us as we have the opportunity.  But it's good to have you all with us today to start the new 2014 season.  I'm T.E. McHale, the manager of motorsports communications for American Honda. 
I'd like to introduce you today to our special guest, Mark Crawford, who is the manager and principal engineer at HPD.  Mark's going to talk to us a little bit about Honda's new Twin Turbo HI‑14‑RTT engine for 2014. 
If you took a look at the practice sheets, we're off to a pretty promising start, so congratulations on a good first session for the new season. 
Mark, talk to us a little bit about your reflections on what we saw out there so far this morning? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  Well, so far this morning it went pretty well.  Surprisingly, a trouble free and pretty much as planned.  It was carry on from the Barber test.  We started there easy, and we didn't want to be overaggressive.  You know, everything's kind of going as planned.  We were able to get some developments done in the meantime since Barber.  We were able to raise a few concerns that we're glad didn't surprise us here.  But I would say, to say it shortly, things are going so far so good, and hope to keep it up, especially tomorrow in qualifying.
THE MODERATOR:  Little quick background on Mark, which I probably should have given before I lobbed him the first question.  At any rate, he's been with HPD since July of 1996.  He's worked on our Kart, IRL and Sports Car projects for HPD, and has served as large project leader for the LMP1 Sports Car program, and the current IndyCar engine program since last year.  Been kind of shop‑based, so we don't see Mark much on the road, but we're happy to have him with us here in St. Petersburg. 
Wanted to talk to you about the timelines for the development of the Twin Turbo.  Most of you, I think, are aware that Honda ran a single Turbo configuration for its first two years in the new competitive era of IndyCar until the series mandated that everybody run a Twin Turbo this season.  It's something we've had in the works for a while though.  Would you talk a little bit about the time lines for development of the new engine? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  Well, we didn't especially wait until IndyCar mandated the Twin Turbo to run it for the first time.  The very first time we ran the Twin Turbo was actually well in advance of this formula hitting the track, so we were always very aware of it.  We were familiar with the Twin Turbo, as we try to be on every aspect of the engine.  We test between the extremes, so we knew what the Twin Turbo was capable of even though for the first two years we had chosen the Single Turbo as our chosen development path. 
So having the opportunity in 2014 to make the change from single to twin, we looked at it again.  We had always known the deficiencies and the merits of the single versus the twin, and we waved those, and we had made a tentative decision that we'd pursue a Twin Turbo route, but we had always kept in the back of our mind that we could go back on the Single Turbo if we chose so if there appeared to be an advantage.  Then IndyCar made the decision easy for us and they mandated the Twin Turbo, so we went that route. 
Development‑wise, the things we developed for the Single Turbo for the most part carried over.  Things that are unique to the Twin Turbo application, the Turbo mounting, of course, in the Single Turbo application we had the turbo tucked behind the engine, very tidy package in the bell housing, now they have to move out along the sides of the engine.  You're a little more restricted with the body work and the coolers on the car.  But we did our development.  We did our calculations.  We made the decisions that we did that put the turbos where they are in the car. 
We're pretty satisfied with how they've been working.  I think it was a pretty well thought out solution.  So far I haven't really had any issues with it.  Nothing big, just minor teeth things.  So we were able to hit the track pretty well‑prepared and get on with developing the application.  
So the induction, the low‑pressure side, the high‑pressure side of the compressors, the exhaust system have all been adapted to run the Twin Turbo.  Put a fair amount of thought into it, and so far, so good.  You can see the results today.  I don't think we've skipped a beat from our road and street course performance that we had in 2013.

Q.  It will be a while before we compete on an oval.  How do you expect the engine to adapt to it?  I guess, the 500 will be the first race on an oval, so what are you looking for once we get into the oval part of the season from this new power point? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  With regards to the Twin Turbo specifically, the very first time we ran the Twin Turbo engine was at a test at Fontana at the end of 2013, and right away we were able to get a good back‑to‑back on the inherent nature of the Twin Turbo versus the Single Turbo.  The response was much better as we had expected.  The power, there is a difference in power.  It's not enormous, but it is there and the driver feedback that we got was very positive. 
As far as the new engine formula on an oval, we've got a pretty singular purpose in mind to go out and win the Indianapolis 500, so our development to date was focused on that.  We've been very purposeful in the specification of the engine.  So we're looking to move forward at the 500. 
Last year I don't think our performance showed as strongly as it should have.  But this year we've reflected on what we did right, and what we did incorrectly last year.  I think we're prepared, and I think the engine is up to the task.

Q.  Having to go Single to Twin Turbo configuration while increasing your mileage requirements by 25%, how big a chunk was that to take on? 
THE MODERATOR:  The question is with the increase of the life requirement from 2000 to 2500 miles, how did that play into the necessity now to go to a Twin Turbo power plan? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  There isn't really a whole lot associated with the turbo charger itself that would affect the durability of the engine.  So the durability requirement changed, that 25% increase.  The 500 miles really from 2000 to 2500 miles.  Pertaining to the switch from Single Turbo to Twin Turbo, I don't really think it has a whole lot of bearing. 
But just to speak to the durability increase requirement that we have from IndyCar, that's been a pretty good challenge.  Engines are quite highly stressed.  They're making well over 100 horsepower per cylinder.  They have a lot of torque.  The revs are lower than what we used to have back in the Champ Car days, so the loads on all the components are pretty high. 
Considering our benchmarks going back through time when we had a 500‑ or 600‑mile requirement or we could change engines, essentially at will, except for within the confines of the race, we're looking for these things to go six times the distance, almost ten times the distance.  So the development and engineering that goes into hitting that 2500 mile mark rivals the development that we put into the performance of the engine.  So there is a lot to be learned in the process of doing that, and we really have to rethink how you go about IndyCar Racing with that requirement in front of us. 
Fortunately, between Kart and IRL and this latest version of IndyCar, we have the Sports Car experience, and that gave us the perspective of having to build a long‑life engine.  So we were able to reflect on that technology and that engineering and those procedures that we have in place from that program and apply them straight to IndyCar.  And we've got the package that we have today. 
So far the durability has been a challenge, but we're ready for it here.  So once they get on track, 2500 miles is a long time to collect surprises, so we'll handle them and see how well we're prepared, but I'm confident.

Q.  Fans noticed that obviously the sound is better.  The sound sounds like it's got some grunt to it.  It certainly sounds better than a former car.  Why is the sound so much different and it sounds so much racier? 
THE MODERATOR:  The question is why engines sound so much racier than the previous incarnation. 
MARK CRAWFORD:  I presume you're asking about 2013 to 2014 sound?  I don't really have an answer to that.  There's not really much internal to the engine that's fundamentally changed that would lend itself to a different sound.  But the exhaust system is different.  The turbo chargers are different.  The volume and the system are different.  We have two tail pipes out of the charger now instead of the one that we maybe had last year.  So maybe it depends on the side of the car you're standing on. 
Last year our tail pipes exited on the left side, so if you're standing on the right, it may be a little bit more muted.  But we're happy with the sound.  It is a nice sounding engine.  Definitely different from the new era of F1 as you mentioned.  But I don't really have a reason.  I think a lot of that is perception.  I'm glad that you're happy with the sound.  Hopefully, the fans are happy with the sound. 
That's good.  It's good for our image.  It's something we'll take.  Certainly nothing that we designed purposefully, but if the fans are happy with it, hopefully, they like the sound of the Honda. 

Q.  Talk about the 2500‑mile life expectancy of engines and whether changes can be made on the fly so to speak if you detect a flaw in the architecture? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  IndyCar has systems inside of the regulations to handle those things.  So if we have issues with a homologated component, something that is fixed for a period of time, for the purpose of improving durability or for saving costs, we're allowed within the regulations to submit the request for a change.  So if we're going to change something like a material or the design of a component, we're well within our rights to do that, but we just have to seek approval from IndyCar before those parts go in the engine. 
If the problem in the field is minor in that it doesn't require major disassembly of the engine or breakage of the seals, we'll go after it and just do the maintenance to the engine.  So we've done plenty of maintenance.  We try to stay on top of the problems.  We don't like to let them persist because they could put the car or the driver or someone at risk as well as our image of having a quality product out there. 
So there are different levels of maintenance that's done to the engines during their life.  Catastrophic problems, though, I think you're pertaining to, we can make those changes.  We just have to seek IndyCar's approval to do it.  We're constantly working.  We have things on the shelf in development that are not currently approved.  But we just keep them on the shelf so that if we have a problem, we're ready to go with it and we can make a fast fix.  Otherwise, the time that it takes to turn all of this stuff around, 2500 miles, is a lot of calendar time to wait for an improvement.  So we try to stay ready.  We've got a number of tools on the shelf in our back pocket that we're ready to pull off when we need them.

Q.  Talk about the developments that you did engineering‑wise and technology that you found in HPD.  Question has to do with the similarity of the product that we put on the racetrack and we put on the street, and how much technology transfer there is between racing engines, racing components and Street Car product? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  The intent from IndyCar with this formula was to initially be more relevant.  So you have choices like turbo chargers.  You have a downsized platform.  The 2.2 liters from 3.5 liters that we had before, a V‑6 to a V‑8, direct injection.  So there are a number of elements in the regulations that are designed to be road relevant so that the fans can relate to something.  They go to the gas station and see an E‑85 pump, and it's the same stuff that we use.  They have a CIV‑6 in their cars, and that's what we use on track.  As far as our own technology transfer, it does indeed happen. 
So we have an open channel of communication.  We have a lot of friendships with the engineers back at R & D, and we may encounter problems that they haven't seen before.  We can relate to them our solutions.  How we approach the problem, the data behind the problem, how to recognize the problem, and they've reciprocated as well.  There have been problems that we've seen on track that caught us by surprise.  By talking to them, they're able to say, well, we've seen this and here's how we approach the problem.  That's happened several times, even on this program.  Something like our LMP2 program that is a production‑based engine, it's very relevant because we're actually developing the very same kit of parts that's in the road cars and we're applying it.  So there is a lot of back and forth on that. 
The IndyCar program is a bespoke engine, but there is the technology and approach to solving problems that we've been able to reflect back and forth with the guys back in R & D and share a lot of technology.  So there is a bond.  As time goes on, I think it grows stronger.

Q.  In your Sports Car program, is there a lot that transfers back and forth, or is the Sports Car engine more designed for street type of translation, or is the IndyCar engine different?  Question, is what connection, if any, is there between the Sports Car engine that HPD provides in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the current Twin Turbo IndyCar engine? 
MARK CRAWFORD:  That's actually a good question because the turbo chargers between the two are quite similar.  They use a very similar architecture and construction.  The control systems are different.  The Sports Cars we have a bit more‑‑ we have our hands quite a bit more into the control aspects of the engine.  It's allowed.  Whereas here in IndyCar, IndyCar are trying to maintain the pace of development a little bit more, so they've taken the lead in that. 
I think where the Sports Car program had its effect on the IndyCar program is that it came first and it hit the track before this program did.  With the gap between 2002, the last Kart engine, and 2012, there are 11 racing seasons there where we didn't have a whole lot of turbo charger activity on the track.  So the staff at HPD had changed the engine.  We had a lot of young engineers come in.  And standing back and looking at them, they didn't have a lot of turbo charged experience. 
So having the Sports Car program in place, they were able to give us a running start with this engine.  So we knew what to expect.  Even this year in 2014, the migration from Single Turbo to Twin Turbo, we were able to reflect on the Sports Car program quite heavily on how to manage the twin‑turbos, how to mount them, how to install them in the car, what the pit falls are that maybe we don't always see on the dyno. 
So the Sports Car program, there's been a lot of technology transfer.  And at HPD the way we're structured, it is actually the same group of engineers that's got their hands on both.  So the transfer is there.  It's very important, and it does benefit us quite a bit. 

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