Honda Civic Type R : driven for research!
Frenchman Lionel Comole will spearhead an entry of no fewer than six Civics on this year's 100th anniversary Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Comole will drive a Honda Civic Type R R3 on the legendary event, prepared by JAS Motorsport in Italy.
Comole, co-driven by Hubert Brun, will carry the colours of the "Fondation Arthritis" a French charity set up to finance the research against ankylosing spondylitis and help the sufferers of rheumatic diseases.
Comole himself is engaged in a daily battle against ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic arthritic disease that can cause fusion of the spine. However, through motorsport, he aims to show that these illnesses can be overcome and also to raise money and awareness for medical research.
JAS Motorsport team principal Alessandro Mariani commented: "We're very proud to support Lionel and the excellent charity work he is carrying out on the Monte Carlo Rally. His participation captures the spirit of this year's celebration event perfectly and we are confident that we can give him a car that will allow him to make the most of his abilities and highlight this very worthwhile cause.
The Honda Civic provides the perfect compromise between speed, price, and reliability for amateur drivers and professionals alike, even allowing them to challenge competitors from superior classes."
More than just a manufacturer, the Honda community is a real family: a fact that has been recognized by one of the most significant entries seen so far in the model's history, on the oldest and most prestigious rally in the world.
Driving another JAS-prepared Civic will be Dutchmen Marcel Piepers and Erik de Wild: long-time Honda customers who are fulfilling a lifetime's ambition by competing on the most famous rally in the world. Four other Hondas, driven by crews from France and Monaco, will also be taking part - bringing the total Civic entry up to six.
The Monte Carlo entry list has been expanded this year to give 100 amateur drivers - who have traditionally formed the backbone of the event - a free entry to celebrate the rally's centenary.
Following three days of reconnaissance from Saturday 15 until Monday 17 January, this year's Monte Carlo Rally gets underway on Wednesday 19 January with the first of 13 special stages totaling 337.06 kilometers.
Day one features four stages in the Ardeche and Haute Loire regions of France, including the longest two tests of the rally, the 36.87-kilometre Le Moulinon-Antraigues stage and the 41.06-kilometre Burzet-St Martial run, which are separated by a tire change halt in Vals les Bains.
Thursday's action features two loops of mountain stages run twice north-east of Valence and separated by a service halt in the city.
Following a final service halt in Valence on Friday morning, crews begin the 390-kilometre journey to Monaco via the Montauban sur l'Ouveze-Eygalayes stage.
Upon arrival in Monaco, cars enter parc ferme before the four night stages over the Col de Turini that form the climax of the event.
The Honda crews will face very strong opposition in the two-wheel drive class and are likely to encounter changeable weather conditions, which are a traditional feature of the event. The rally will be televised on Eurosport with more than 14 hours of live coverage from the stages: please visit www.rally-irc.com for further details.