It turned out to be a good day for both the engineers at the Honda R&D in Japan and FIA officials in Bonneville. Reason being, Honda has posted a new FIA land speed record and also broke its own record for a Honda-powered automobile last week at Bonneville, Utah. Honda S-Dream Streamliner managed to put a smile on many faces with a 419 kmph speed record.
The S-Dream not only posted a new FIA world record of 419 kmph for 1 mile and 419.19 kmph for a 1km run in its class (Category-A Group-1 Class-4), but also became the fastest Honda-powered car ever including the record established by BAR Honda F1 car at Bonneville in 2006. The S-Dream Streamliner is powered by a 660cc three cylinder engine based on Honda S660 sportscar.
Before the Honda S-Dream made the dream run, it had to make several strong runs at Bonneville Speed Weeks. But to its bad luck, it was unable to reach the record speed that it sought. After the conclusion of the Speed Weeks, Mike Cook's shoot out was held and Honda was officially invited to take another run at the record. And this time, the team broke the FIA record mark with a run of 366.57 kmph on the first day.
In the subsequent runs of the shootout, the S-Dream went quicker until the official figures of 419 kmph (1 mile) and 419.19 kmph (1km) were achieved. As a matter of fact, the team managed to touch 425 kmph in one of its run, but was able to duplicate the speed on the return run as required to set an official mark. Otherwise, we could have a speed record with different speed.
The project was conceptualized in 2015 and an internal announcement was made at the Honda Honda R&D in Japan. The ‘Bonneville Speed Challenge’ project started with 16 members who were chosen from a pool of 100 volunteers, including the project leader Keisuke Tsuta. The goal of the project was very simple – 'Achieve a world speed record with 660cc engine' and hence Honda S-Dream was born.
Since Honda already had a 660cc engine on hand, the team carefully re-investigated every part of it and many of them were renewed including cylinder block, pistons, crankshaft and valves. The engineers aimed at pumping out more than three times the existing power and for that, the replacement of the lower block with a steel unit and reinforced connecting rods were added.
But as it happens when building machines and especially with racing machines, an unforeseen problem stared the face of the team during the first test run on the Bonneville Salt Flats. As told by Test driver Hikaru Miyagi, he couldn't see properly through the narrow canopy. While there were ample landmarks and road markings to improve the visibility on the test track, the former Japan motorcycle champion faced an issue keeping the car pointed in the right direction, thanks to the bleach-white expanse of the salt flats.
The team had to eventually take the car back to Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, California. The canopy was restyled along with other parts of the upper body just 10 days before the first day of the Bonneville.