Homologation is a technical term, derived from the Greek homologeo (ὁμολογέω) for "to agree", which is generally used in English to signify the granting of approval by an official authority. This may be a court of law, a government department, or an academic or professional body, any of which would normally work from a set of strict rules or standards to determine whether such approval should be given. The word may be considered very roughly synonymous with Accreditation, and in fact in French may be used with regard to academic degrees (see apostille). Certified is another possible synonym, while to homologate is the infinitive verb form.
In today's marketplace, for instance, products must often be homologated by some public agency to assure that they meet standards for such things as safety and environmental impact. A court action may also sometimes be homologated by a judicial authority before it can proceed, and the term has a precise legal meaning in the judicial codes of some countries.
The word is used within the European Union in those papers that are direct translations from French to refer to the processes of making trade standards and laws consistent throughout the whole of the union. British journalists usually prefer to use the word harmonisation for this purpose.
Another usage pertains to the biological sciences, where it may describe the similarities used to assign organisms to the same family or taxon, similarities they have jointly inherited from a common ancestor. Similarly, Homologation is widely used in technical areas, such as communications, when products and/or processes have to be certified against the corresponding telecom standard, internal normative, etc.
In racing series that are "production-based," (that is, the vehicles entered in the series are based on production vehicles for sale to the public), homologation entails not only compliance with a racing series technical guidelines (for example, engine displacement, chassis construction, suspension design and such) but it often includes minimum levels of sales to ensure that vehicles are not designed and produced solely for racing in that series. Since such vehicles are primarily intended for the race track, use on public roadways is generally a secondary design consideration, except as required to meet government regulations.
Sales aids (for example, the inclusion of luxury trim features, such as leather surfaces, audio systems, anti-theft systems) even where such accommodations are made, are generally barely within the limits of government requirements for sale to consumers, to minimize reduction in performance. Such accommodations are often reversible, so that production vehicles can be modified to racing trim by owners seeking to race their vehicle.
One common example of this process is the exhaust system, often modified in the production vehicle to meet various legal statutes in the jurisdictions where the vehicle is sold. Since most production-based racing series allow some level of modification, including the removal of exhaust systems that optimize emissions at the cost of engine performance, vehicles that were produced and sold primarily to meet the homologation-guidelines of a particular series are often designed for easy modification of such components.
Many manufacturers of vehicles used in production-based racing (whether the vehicles were produced solely to meet homologation guidelines or as a genuine for-profit line) offer a line of high-performance parts not intended for use on public roadways. Such components could include exhaust systems and engine internals, and are generally within the homologation guidelines of the racing series in which the vehicles are to be used.
There is also a brisk after-market supplying components for converting production vehicles to race trim for production-based racing series. One example is light weight, quickly removable bodywork, to replac stock bodywork that is often heavier and has features for use on public roads, such as lighting systems.
Many sportscars are released to the public for the express purpose of meeting the homologation guidelines of a particular series or several series. In such cases the quantity of a particular model that is manufactured often barely meets the minimum requirement for homologation by the racing series for which the vehicle was designed. Examples of this are the BMW M3 GTR, Ferrari 288 GTO, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R 'N1 models'.
The same is true of most motorcycle racing series that can be considered production-based and include the various classes of such premier series as the AMA Superbike Championship or the FIM's Superbike World Championship. As with automobiles, motorcycle manufacturers are also known to manufacture certain models for the consumer market to have that model qualify for entry in a particular production-based racing series.
One example of a production motorcycle that was designed and built primarily to meet the homologation requirements is the 2008 Ducati 1098R a limited edition version of Ducati's 1098 S sportbike. The 1098R is even referred to by Ducati in the press as the Homologation Special. Wherever any compromise was made on the 1098S for the purpose of making it a more street-friendly and consumer-ready vehicle (for example, reliability, rideability, economy) the 1098R's design makes a far more limited compromise or no compromise at all. An example is the displacement—unlike the engine of the 1098S that has 1098 cc displacement the 1098R's engine is 1198 cc displacement allowing it to take advantage of the WSBK rulebook that allows up to 1200 cc for engines of the type found in the 1098 series.
The term is also applicable in the Olympic Games in venue certifications prior to the Olympics. A recent issue was raised at Cesana Pariol—the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track used for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin—over its safety in luge. This delayed homologation of the track from January 2005 to October 2005 in order to achieve safe runs during luge competitions.
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