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Wraps come off the Honda RA106 25 Jan 2006

The new Honda Racing RA106. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 23-27 January 2006. World ©  Capilitan/Sutton

Honda unveiled their challenger for the 2006 season in Spain on Wednesday morning, along with their new driver line-up of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. Following the Japanese company’s takeover of BAR, the RA106 is the first Formula One car launched by a Honda works team since 1968.

The new car and its RA806E V8 engine are the result of unified development effort, combining resources from the team’s Bracknell base in the UK and Honda’s R&D department in Tochigi, Japan.

With its livery of Honda Racing White - harking back to the team’s original Formula One debut in 1964 - two RA106 chassis have been brought to Barcelona to allow Barrichello and Button to begin testing simultaneously.

“I'm particularly proud that we have been able to deliver a new car each for Jenson and Rubens today which demonstrates the depth of our manufacturing ability and skill and determination of our people,” said Nick Fry, the team’s Chief Executive Officer. "Our target in 2006 is to challenge for race wins and we will do our utmost to achieve that objective.”

Naturally both Honda drivers were eager to get behind the wheel of the new car. "This is a very exciting day for me as it's my first launch with a new team for six years!” said Barrichello. “Honda has a fantastic heritage in motorsport and it's great to be a part of that now.

“I can't wait to drive the new car and the discussions I've had with our technical team indicate that we have good reason to be excited about the season ahead. I'm sure that will be confirmed when I test the car for the first time today."

“We've achieved a lot in winter testing with our Concept car and I have seen first hand the huge effort in Brackley and Tochigi over the past few months,” added Button. “I'm confident that all the determination will be rewarded this year and I've done my part by working even harder on my fitness to ensure that I'm in the best possible shape for the season ahead. I can't wait for the first race in Bahrain."

Having finished second in the 2004 constructors’ championship, the team dropped to a disappointing sixth last year. However, Fry is convinced Honda now have the foundations in place for another concerted title challenge.

“During 2005 we put in place some important building blocks that will help us meet our targets in 2006 and beyond,” he added. “We secured two of the best racing drivers in the world, we proved our ability to develop a car through the season, resulting in points for Jenson in each of the last ten races, and we gained a better understanding of the strengths of the 2004 car and the issues with our 2005 race car.

“Lastly, and most importantly, we have 'works' team status with access to the technical resources of Honda R&D. With our new wind tunnel also coming on-stream later this year, we are ready to step up to the challenge."

Button and Barrichello are joined in Barcelona this week by Honda's third driver Anthony Davidson, as the RA106’s first week of testing gets underway.