Honda Won’t Renew Corona Deal
American Honda Senior Vice President Ray Blank met with members of the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) this week to discuss the AMA Road Racing Series. What he heard didn’t inspire him to bring Team Honda back into the fold. In fact, American Honda has now pulled the plug completely and will no longer support the Corona Honda team and Neil Hodgson.A release was issued this afternoon from the Torrence, California, headquarters of American Honda stating that the company will not be renewing its contracts with the Corona Extra Racing team and Hodgson, and that the on-site road racing operations will be terminated with assets being put into storage for “future consideration.” The staff was informed of the changes at 1 p.m. today, according to the release.”Nothing is changing and with nothing changing we’re not going to change,” Blank said yesterday in a phone interview. “We race motorcycles for the enjoyment of the customers who buy them and as a marketing platform to sell the bikes and, probably most importantly, as a way to develop the bikes in an on-going fashion. Under the current rules, we can’t have that. As soon as the statement was made that things are going to stay pretty much the same, it led us to a status quo position. Of course, with the economic pressure that we have, means that every marketing dollar has to be very well spent. It means you have to be careful with everything you do and it has support one of those major objectives. Either it makes customers really happy, it improves the breed, or it helps sell the product. I don’t see customers real happy, we’re not permitted to evolve in techology, and we’re not given a platform to really sell the product. It isn’t any different than what it was in March of 2008 when we first sat down with Roger [Edmondson] and were told this is how it was going to be.”When asked yesterday about Honda’s future involvement with the Corona team and also with Erion Racing, Blank said it was too early to announce what they would be doing.Efforts to reach Hodgson have so far been unsuccessful.