Honda Tests NSX-GT FR Hybrid
What a surprise... Nobody, and even none of the auto media could see this coming. At a regular "Super GT Test Day" held at TwinRing Motegi on October 2010, Honda NSX-GT suddenly showed up with no official announcement. Honda already has HSV for Super GT. Why now NSX-GT?
The vehicle has the looking of NSX-GT, but what lies under the body kit is a "FR" vehicle. The exact same car was previously spotted just once on 2007 when it was announced that Super GT regulation would change from 2009 and only "3.4L FR" race cars will be allowed. NSX-GT being a "3.5L mid-ship", it was apparent that the new regulation was designed to shut out NSX-GT from Super GT. Honda needed to make a tough decision at that time whether to make a FR version of NSX-GT, or stop racing. The car spotted on 2007 was a result of Honda's ultimate struggle - its hood awkwardly stretched to store engine in front, sticking Exhaust pipes from the side instead of rear, and roof-top air intake became useless and had scaled down.
Eventually, Honda managed to survive in racing in Super GT by developing a new 3.4L FR vehicle, HSV-010 GT on 2010. And what had happened to that "FR NSX-GT"? There was no doubt of it being scrapped and gone forever, after all it became a useless prototype race car. The set-up probably did not go well, and above all, who would like to see a FR NSX?
[NSX-GT with KERS]
But it turned out that "FR NSX-GT" was still alive, secretly stored inside the garage of Honda R&D team for 3 years. This time, it was chosen for the vehicle to officially test KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) which might be used for 2012 Super GT or later. To reduce development cost of KERS, Honda volunteered to provide the car and gather data for all race entrants, and Lexus and Nissan approved it. "FR NSX-GT" was an ideal test car for all 3 car makers. The car was basically designed to race in Super GT, but Honda did not develop it till the end and had never used in races, thus lack of racing data. This was fair deal for Lexus and Nissan because Honda testing KERS will not bring advantage to HSV.
So many people and media asked the GT Association (management organization of Super GT) the specification of this "NSX-GT Hybrid", and later an official announcement was made.
KERS provided for testing purpose for Super GT vehicle is manufactured by Zytek, the same KERS supplier for F1. It can be used to Boost the car for maximum of 20 seconds to overtake others, and can be fully recharged after 1 single lap. It is 40kw strong and is powerful enough to drive cars solely on electric motor on places such as pit lanes. The KERS itself weigh 50kg.
According to GT Association, the very first test drive of NSX-GT Hybrid was done a month ago, and this was the first time to seriously test its potential on race tracks. Test driver of "NSX-GT Hybrid" was Katsutomo Kaneishi who was a Honda test driver in days of NSX-GT, and currently a director of Real Racing Team with KEIHIN HSV-010. His best lap of the day was 1.49"468 at TwinRing Motegi, only 4.453 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the day by Lexus ENEOS SC430.
There should be tons of more tests coming, but so far it seems possible KERS might be used at Super GT in the near future.