Aava Shines on WRC Finland 2WD Outing
Honda showed tremendous form in the two-wheel-drive category of the World Rally Championship's annual visit to Finland [last] weekend. On the fast and flowing gravel for which the event is seen as one of the most important and prestigious of the year, Urmo Aava underlined the competitiveness of the current Honda Civic Type R R3 rally car with a sensational drive.
Aava, an Estionan rallystar, took inspiration from this, the most famous rally in Scandinavia, and the presence of Finland's international stars such as Anton Alen, Juho Hanninen and of course 2007 Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen to set a blistering pace in the 2WD class for Honda.
"The WRC Rally Finland is a special event, everyone knows that," Aava said. "Around the world people know straight away Monte Carlo, Great Britain and Finland as the biggest rallies, so you get a kick from starting there, and that translates into fast times."
Using the JAS-engineered Civic to the maximum effect, Aavo set 18 fastest times on the 22 stages in what looked like it could be a whitewash for Honda. A unfortunately Aava suffered damage from a rock pulled up onto the road surface by one of the other competitors late in the rally, which meant that ultimately the victory wasn't for the taking, but Aava was nevertheless upbeat.
"Of course it's disappointing not to have been able to see it through to the flag, but we scored a strong finish in 2WD and really showed what the Civic can do. That's really important, it shakes things up a bit in the championship and for me the pleasure of driving those stages so fast will last a long time."
Honda Civic Completes 1-2 in Italian Endurance Championship
Honda's growing influence in the Italian Endurance Touring Car Championship (CITE) was clear at last weekend's event at Varano de Melegari (August 2-3). A pair of 1-2 finishes saw victories and second place finishes for the JAS-prepared Honda Civic Type R Endurance of Ivan Capelli and Gianmaria Gabbiani and the Honda Accord of Massimo Arduini-Ruggero Bisi.
Debuted by JAS Motorsport from its established, class-winning R3 rally car, the muscular Civic produces 260 horsepower from its 2.0 litre normally-aspirated Mugen developed K20A engine and weighs just 1000 kilograms, giving it an excellent power to weight ratio. A six-speed sequential gearbox ensures speed and strength, while the car runs 9x17 inch wheels (the same size as Super 2000 machinery) on wide-track to guarantee stability.
Lead contender in the CITE series, Gianmaria Gabbiani, teamed up with former Formula One driver Ivan Capelli for the event -- a move that brought huge success. Gabbiani, the son of expert Formula One and sports car racer Beppe, together with Milanese ex-Ferrari star Capelli with tremendous effect, not only dominating their class but coming second overall.
"This was a fantastic weekend for me, a really competitive car in a super-competitive environment," said Capelli. "For a car that is still at the start of its development, the Civic is truly impressive and tremendously rewarding to drive. I am sure that there is a huge amount still to come from the car -- and look forward to more chances to drive, I hope!"
"The Civic is the perfect car for endurance racing -- and we are happy to prove the point!" Gabbiani said. "This result against much more powerful competition shows that not only the speed and handling are right on the pace but the reliability and driver-friendly design that JAS has put into making the car good do drive long-distance has really paid off."