Rally / 27 August 2009

Two Honda Civic?s on the 2WD podium

The JAS Motorsport-supported drivers on this weekend?s Barum Czech Rally Zlin put in strong performances all round, underlining the potential of the Honda Civic Type R3.  With full support from JAS and significant competition in this prestigious category, the crews rose to the occasion and ensured that their championships ? and Honda?s ? go from strength to strength.

A total of 107 starters on the Barum Czech Rally Zlin brought fierce competition in every class.  A total of four Civic Type R3 entries were supported by JAS Motorsport.  From the outset the competition was fast and furious on the flat-out but notoriously rough and slippery Czech asphalt around Zlin.

On SS3 the lead was taken by Norway?s Martin Knudsen in his Civic Type R3, winning the stage and taking the initiative from local man Egon Smekal?s Civic Type R by 11 seconds.  Unfortunately this promising run came to a halt on the very next stage when Knudsen crashed heavily, but the JAS Motorsport team was able to rebuild the car overnight to start under Super rally regulations.

Marcel Piepers ? winner on Honda?s return to the IRC 2WD standings in the Belgium Rally Ypres in June ? also crashed out early on the first leg in his Civic Type R3, but was also able to restart under Super rally regulations at the start of Leg 2.  While neither driver was able to claw their way back into the points in such a crowded field, both were able to underline their cars? potential by setting more fastest stage times on the final day.

Meanwhile the battle at the front saw four cars embroiled in the chase for victory, including Hungarian driver Laszlo Vizin in his Civic Type R3.  For the final stages of Leg 1 there was torrential rain that took out many contenders through the field and the lead changed constantly until the final morning, when local man Jiri Skoupil?s Abarth was able to hold an advantage.  Nevertheless he was hotly pursued by Vizin?s Civic Type R3 and the Civic Type R of Smekal who completed the podium and ensured that 14 points were added to Honda?s total in the manufacturers? championship.

?It was a really tough event, but extremely rewarding,? said Vizin.  ?The stages are incredibly bumpy ? like a gravel event in places but less forgiving ? and it was absolutely flat-out all the way.  The car was faultless for me, I have to say.  With a little bit more knowledge of these roads who knows what we could have achieved but it?s great to get eight points in the IRC and contribute to Honda?s score.?

In a huge show of strength for Honda, a total of six Civics were found in the eight points-scoring positions at the end of the event.  The fourth Civic Type R3 of Hungarian driver Janos Puskadi had run strongly in the points positions too for two-thirds of the event, but unfortunately the broken roads in the Czech forest broke one of the car?s wheels, eliminating him from the running.

IRC 2WD Cup Manufacturers' standings after 8 of 11 rounds

1 Peugeot                  69 points
2 Abarth                    46
3 Honda                    40
4 Volkswagen            16