2017 Year in Review: Honda
FINISH: 2nd in Manufacturer points
2017 RESULTS: 1 win, 5 podiums, 9 heat wins, 44 manufacturer points
2016 RESULTS: 5 podiums, 6 heat wins, 36 manufacturer points
THE GOOD: 13 proved to be a lucky number for Honda in Red Bull GRC competition, as the brand scored its first main event victory in its 13th start since joining the series at the start of last year. Sebastian Eriksson gave Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE the victory in a photo finish in Louisville, holding off Steve Arpin by .071 seconds for the statement win in the wet.
Beyond that, it was a season of incremental improvements for the team, which equaled its five-podium 2016 performance and increased its heat wins by three. Rookies Mitchell deJong and Oliver Eriksson both impressed during the year; deJong was the top point-scoring Supercar rookie, ranking fifth overall with three podiums, while Eriksson’s four heat victories were more than any other rookie.
THE BAD: In some ways, it was a tale of two seasons for the factory Honda squad. Four of the team’s five podiums, including its victory and all three of deJong’s third place runs, came in the first six races of the year. But outside of Atlantic City, where the team took three heat victories and a runner-up finish on Sunday, the second half of the year didn’t hold up to the strength of the first.
Seattle and Los Angeles, two events where the team was especially strong last year, turned out to be the biggest culprits. In a combined nine starts between the team’s three drivers, only Oliver Eriksson cracked the top five in those rounds, placing fifth in the first Seattle final. The trio finished eighth, ninth, and 10th in Seattle on Sunday, and deJong’s sixth place was the best result that the team could secure to end the season.
2018 PROGNOSIS: The Civics made a big jump forward in 2017, but there’s still work to be done to catch Volkswagen. Expect Olsbergs MSE to work hard to close the gap this winter.