Honda finished fourth in the 1986 F1 Constructors Championship, behind Renault, Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes but ahead of the other Japanese Teams; Toyota 6th, MF1 Toyota 10th and Super Aguri Honda 11th. Honda broke through for an F1 victory in the ‘modern era’ when Jenson Button won the Hungarian GP in the teams new for 2006, mandated 2.4 litre V8 engined RA106 chassis.
But there is more than one way to ‘skin the public relations cat’. Setting a new Formula 1 car land speed record over the Bonneville flying mile with an average speed of 400 kph was Honda’s PR mission they called the ‘Bonneville 400’.
The racer used for the attempt was its 2005 F1, 3 litre V10-powered BAR-Honda 007. For the runs out on the salt, the car was fitted with an upright rear fin instead of the standard wing and used a parachute to help slow down at the end of each run.
Driver Alan van der Merwe, the team and the car broke F1 class records three times.
During the final attempts, the Honda set two LSR’s for GP cars. Over the flying mile, the car achieved an average speed of 397.360kph (246.908mph). The second record was over the flying kilometer, an average of 397.481kph (246.983mph).
The magic 400 kph average remained outta reach, though earlier in the week the car hit 400.454 kph on one pass of the measured mile. ‘007’ wasn’t able to match the feat on the return trip.
While disappointed that they didn’t set the record at 400, Honda were pleased with the success achieved but not as happy as they were with their first F1 win since the 1967 Italian GP victory by John Surtees! Button took that win, his first in F1 racing 3 weeks later on 6 August 2006.
Jenson won in changeable greasy conditions from Pedro de la Rosa’s McLaren MP4/21 Mercedes and Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber F1.06. It was a well deserved win for both team and driver.
Photo Credits…Honda Corp, Clive Mason, Mark Thompson
Tailpiece: I bet ‘007’ Sounded Sensational on the Bonneville Salt!…
Listen and see the YouTube footage;