Torrance, Calif. 12/05/2005 -- Competing in its first sanctioned motorsports event, the all-new 2006 Honda Civic Si placed first and second in class at the grueling "25 Hours of Thunderhill" endurance race at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California. Honda campaigned two identically prepared and nearly stock Civic Si racecars in the event, which ran from 11 a.m. PST December 3 to noon on December 4 and is the self-billed "most severe endurance race on the planet."
Driving the winning car were Kim Wolfkill of Road & Track magazine, and Honda associates Lee Niffenegger, Chad Gilsinger and Matthew Staal. Piloting the second place car were Tony Swan of Car and Driver magazine, and Honda associates Sage Marie, Rich Hays and John Sherk.
This year's race featured 58 cars, and the 2006 Civics placed fourth and sixth overall, completing 645 and 641 laps, respectively, on the 3.02-mile track. Finishing first overall with 665 laps was a Porsche 911 from Team Lost N Space Racing.
"These results certainly validate the performance credentials of the new Civic Si," said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "This effort is also an expression of the passion and racing spirit existing within the many Honda associates involved in designing, and building the Civic."
Engineers from Honda R&D Americas, Inc., in Ohio prepared the cars to National Auto Sport Association (NASA) U.S. Touring Car Championship specifications in an effort to demonstrate the performance capabilities of the Si's new chassis architecture and powertrain. While the basic engine, transmission, and brake system remained stock, the Civic Si's 2.0-liter engine was enhanced by a custom intake from AEM and exhaust components from DC Sports.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup competition tires on lightweight Rays wheels, and custom H&R racing suspension modifications completed the handling package. Enhancing the car's aerodynamics were a carbon-fiber front splitter and adjustable rear spoiler.
"We entered the cars in the E1 class because it features production-based cars, and we wanted to showcase the Civic Si's true capabilities under the most extreme conditions," said Lee Niffenegger, team leader. "We knew the cars would be fast, so it was our goal to finish one and two, and we did just that."
Honda has now established a successful track record at the Thunderhill competition. Last year, a nearly stock Acura TL in race trim (built and driven by engineers from Honda R&D Americas) won its class and finished third overall.
The Civic Si serves as the performance halo for the line of all-new 2006 Civics, offering a 197-horsepower, DOHC 2.0-liter i-VTEC(TM) engine connected to a 6-speed manual transmission and a limited slip differential. The 2006 Civic was recently named Motor Trend Car of the Year, and the Civic Si went on sale at dealerships nationwide December 1.
NOTE: Accompanying photos are courtesy of Doug Macmillan and Derek Stevens of Hondata.
Dec 8 UPDATE: Lee Niffenegger of Honda is now available to answer some of your questions. Please read his initial post below and then post your questions.