Rally / 07 August 2008


British driver Guy Wilks has underlined the speed and reliability of the new Honda Civic Type R R3, built by JAS Motorsport in Italy, with a dominant class R3 win on Rally Finland: the fastest and most spectacular event of the World Rally Championship.

Not only did Wilks dominate the Group R category, but he was also quickest of all the two-wheel drive cars from the very first stage! The Englishman was not entered in the Junior World Rally Championship competition in Finland, but he proved to be faster than all the Junior runners, crowning a thrilling three days for Honda.

Rally Finland is also nicknamed "the Finnish Grand Prix"' because of its high speeds on compact gravel roads. This hugely popular event is watched by an estimated fifth of Finland's five-million population, and it is characterised by massive rollercoaster crests that launch all the cars into the air for several metres.

As well as a powerful car, drivers need total commitment and perfect pace notes in order to succeed and beat the local specialists who excel on the notoriously specialised stages. Wilks has driven the Honda Civic Type R R3 twice before, in Australia and Russia, but Finland is one of his favourite rallies.

The 27 year-old, co-driven by Irishman David Moynihan, was on the pace straight away, leading his class by more than two and a half minutes after the opening day. He had no problems at all, claiming six fastest two-wheel drive times out of the 11 stages that were run as the opening leg. During the second day he stretched his R3 class lead to more than 12 minutes, and also pulled out an advantage of 40 seconds over the fastest Junior World Rally Championship competitors. The final day saw Guy able to control his advantage and he eventually finished the rally in 18th overall, winning Group R and the class A7 by almost 14 minutes and the two-wheel drive class by more than a minute.

Throughout the three days and 340 kilometres of flat-out action, the Honda Civic Type R R3 and its Mugen-tuned engine was a paragon of reliability, requiring only routine maintenance at service. The only problem that Wilks encountered was a bent steering arm on Saturday afternoon, caused by an impact against a rock with the left-front wheel.

Wilks said: "The event went like a dream for us, and we're absolutely delighted with this result. To finish as fastest two-wheel drive car, in front of all the Junior World Championship competitors, just goes to show that this car is capable of taking on the very best in the world and beating them.  I was also extremely impressed with the reliability of the car, which didn't give a hint of trouble over all three days. This was despite the fact that we were pushing hard throughout the rally and we also had to cope with some quite big rocks."

Alessandro Mariani, the Team Principal of JAS Motorsport, concluded: "We lived a very emotional experience : congratulations to Guy, David and the entire team, who all did an exemplary job to claim a resounding win on what is probably the most challenging rally of the entire World Championship. Our Honda Civic Type R R3 has now proved itself to be both fast and reliable on not only the World Rally Championship, but a variety of different rally series all over the world. I'd like to thank all our partners, particularly Mugen and Pirelli, who did another fantastic job."