Rally / 15 February 2012
Civic Type R on course for IRC 2012 season opener in the AzoresThe Honda Civic Type R is revving-up for a revamped 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), as Honda itself vies for a second consecutive IRC 2WD manufacturers? title.
Season six of the IRC gets underway on the gravel of Portugal?s Sata Rallye A?ores later this month (23-25 February). It features new drivers, teams, territories and ? for the Honda Civic Type R ? a new package of specifications. The manufacturer hopes a set of technical evolutions will build on the success of last year. Honda topped the 2011 IRC 2WD Cup manufacturers? standings with 320 points; twice the tally of the second-placed manufacturer and more than third, fourth and fifth placed combined.
One man behind the wheel of the Civic Type R and beginning his bid for IRC 2WD Cup title glory will be Hungarian 2WD and Gravel Cup champion Menyhert ?Menya? Krozser. The 35-year old hopes to emulate the success of compatriot J?nos Puskadi, who drove the Civic Type R to third in the 2WD Drivers? Cup last season.
?Having clinched the Hungarian title in class 5 2WD and victory in the Gravel Cup, I wanted a fresh challenge,? Menya says. ?I proved last year that I can compete at this level; with the top-class of the IRC. And having spoken to J?nos and heard about the technical upgrades for the Honda Civic Type R, it was an easy decision. In many ways I am returning to my first love; I chose the Civic Type R for my first appearance in 2003, winning the Group N-championship and being elected Rookie of the Year.?
A full set of Honda Civic Type R upgrades will be homologated and available from April 1 through JAS Motorsport, Honda?s Racing Customer Support partner. They will help teams to maintain the competitiveness of the car at the highest level, according to Honda Motor Europe Motorsport Manager William De Braekeleer.
?The most important evolutions include an improved Mugen-tuned engine, lightweight dashboard, new gearbox with the newly homologated set of ratios and rear anti-roll bar,? says De Braekeleer. ?We want to continue to give opportunities to up-and-coming talents ? those like Menya and other privateers ? and bring the joy of rallying to a larger audience. These upgrades reflect that vision.?
This season Menya and co-driver Gyorgy Papp plan to contest eight of 13 rounds in an extended calendar. They include newcomers Bulgaria (29-30 September) and Romania (20-22 July), which alongside existing rounds in Hungary (2-3 June), Czech Republic (31 August-2 September), and Ukraine (15-16 September) see five events in the increasingly important Eastern European region.
?After the Azores we have the choice between another exciting new addition to the IRC schedule for 2012 ? the Circuit of Ireland (6-7 April) ? or the ?Rally of 10,000 Corners? in Corsica (11-12 May),? Menya explains. ?Then we have the five rallies in Eastern Europe. Ultimately we will race at the season finale in Cyprus on its combination of gravel and asphalt stages (02-03 November).?
Depending on results, Menya and his team have the flexibility to change their plans and opt instead for the Belgium (21-23 June) and San Marino (6-7 July) stages. They are ambitious, adding their aim is for a podium finish in each rally in which they participate, though Menya says his main goal is to gain valuable experience.
Menya will need to put all his expertise to use on the testing Sata Rallye A?ores. The Atlantic archipelago?s technical gravel stages run over spectacular landscapes, while a changeable climate adds to the challenge.
An untimed City Stage on the streets of Ponta Delgada will open the action on Wednesday 22 February. Competitors in the star-studded 39-car entry then pit their wits over 14 fast and flowing stages and 194.4 kilometres against the clock from Thursday 23, taking the final chequered flag in S?o Miguel?s harbour on Saturday 25.
Menya is the latest driver to select the Honda Civic Type R, a popular choice among aspiring young drivers owing to its affordability, reliability and competitiveness.