HONDA CIVIC TYPE R CONTINUES LEARNING CURVE ON ASPHALT
This weekend's Barum Rally Zlin in the Czech Republic is the sixth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the second consecutive asphalt event for the all-new Honda Civic Type R, which is developed and run by renowned preparation firm JAS Motorsport in Italy.
After proving their pace on the four rounds of the IRC they have contested so far, the Honda Civic driver line-up of Dani Sola and Luca Betti is anxious to underline the car's potential with some concrete results.
The Barum Rally Zlin will be a new experience for both drivers, combining elements of the World Championship's Rally Deutschland and also the IRC Rally of Ypres: where the Honda Civic Type R made its asphalt debut. There is a wide variety of speeds, corners, and surfaces with some rough and broken-up sections of road as well as some smoother asphalt. The weather is another unknown factor in what is set to be an intriguing event for the Honda Civic squad.
Coming just three weeks after the Madeira Rally there has been little time to develop the car further, yet nonetheless JAS Motorsport has come out with some improvements that will be tested on the car on the Barum Rally Zlin.
These improvements, part of the learning curve of any new car's development, concentrate on adding strength while also taking some more weight off the car: a key consideration on asphalt rallies.
Dani Sola, who was Junior World Rally Champion in 2002, commented: "We've made a lot of progress with the Honda, and everybody has been very impressed with the speed. Now we continue with the hard work of making it perfectly reliable. I don't know much about the Barum Rally Zlin as it is entirely new to me, but I have been told that it is quite tricky with all sorts of different roads. The rally organisers sometimes put stones down on the stages to stop people cutting the corners, and if you hit one of those then you are in trouble! We've made a few adjustments to the car and I am anxious to see how they will all work, but it's important not to rush the development work and keep going at a realistic and useful pace."
Luca Betti added: "Barum Rally Zlin is a completely new event for me as well, and I really don't know what to expect. Our priority is to get to the finish of the rally, so that we can learn as much as possible about how to develop the car for the future. We will be faced with an extremely competitive field, which is an excellent point of reference for our all-new car."
The Barum Rally Zlin gets underway with a ceremonial start in the Czech town of Zlin on Friday 24 August, followed by a spectacular spectator superspecial. The crews then tackle two full days of action before the final podium on Sunday afternoon.