Honda closed out its racing year with its annual Thanks Day at Motegi Raceway in Japan. The event was a showcase of both the machinery that competed in 2015 and both the drivers and riders who raced them. That included Fernando Alonso, but rather than bring his Honda-powered McLaren, the two-time world champ took the opportunity to try out some different equipment.
While MotoGP rider Marc Márquez slipped behind the wheel of the NSX Concept GT, his countryman Alonso hopped on his RC213V motorcycle for a couple of laps. Alonso also had the chance to drive a McLaren-Honda MP4/6, just like the one with which Ayrton Senna successfully defended his title in the 1991 Formula One World Championship. That was the first time McLaren ran a Honda V12, but the last time a V12 – or a manual transmission – won the championship. After the following season, Honda and McLaren parted ways – only to be reunited this year with Alonso and Button behind the wheel.
While Alonso was toying around with Senna’s car, Takuma Sato – who drove Hondas in Formula One and now in Indy – tried his hand at the 1968 Honda RA301. That machine was also powered by a Honda V12, but at 440 horsepower, was far less potent than the 700+hp version that would later power Senna to the championship. John Surtees drove one just like this in the 1968 world championship, retiring from most of the races on the calendar but scoring two podiums from the three that he did finish.
Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa also competed in the CBR250 spec race and rode the mid-80s-era NSR500 bikes. They drove in four-wheel spec race as well in modified Honda N-One kei cars. The event served to cap a full year of racing for the Japanese automaker, which competes in a range of racing disciplines including F1, Indy, Super GT, the World Touring Car Championship, and numerous classes of motorcycle racing.