It's far too early to tell, but the Dream Team at Honda is looking ready to turn the tables on Chevrolet this upcoming season in IndyCar.
Last year, Honda won the Indianapolis 500 but lost the engine war to the Bowtie Brigade, which had its drivers claim 11 checkered flags in 15 races. Considering the pride Honda takes in motorsports, you had to think a strong answer back was coming.
And so far, things are going well for Honda. Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing) put up the fastest time of the afternoon on Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway, and then the next day, French rookie Tristan Vautier managed to top reigning series champion (and Chevy-powered driver) Ryan Hunter-Reay on the Florida road course.
As Marshall Pruett of RACER Magazine wrote:
"It would be foolish to make any kind of prediction on which engine manufacturer will have an advantage once the season kicks off at St. Petersburg, but there was a general buzz among a number of folks affiliated with the Bowtie camp that Honda has done their homework during the offseason."
Honda didn't make a bad engine in 2012 -- far from it. But Chevy was just a little bit better, and in a fiercely fought championship like the IZOD IndyCar Series, that "little bit" might as well be a giant bit.
It'll be interesting to see how Vautier and Simon Pagenaud fare this coming Wednesday at Sonoma, when they'll be the only Honda-powered drivers in a nine-driver test session. We'll get an even better idea of where the engine situation stands next month at IndyCar 'Spring Training' down in Alabama, but if the SPM duo fares well at Sonoma, then that should make Honda feel good going in.
Chevy has its big 1-2 punch with Andretti Autosport and Team Penske, but Honda needs to get their own. If SPM can contend alongside Target Chip Ganassi Racing this season, Honda stands a better chance of winning the engine war this time.