WRC

Wales Rally GB: Honda JAS Motorsport preview

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R R3 TO MAKE GRAVEL DEBUT ON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP The all-new Honda Civic Type R R3 will make its gravel debut on the Wales Rally Great Britain, the final round of this year's World Rally Championship from November 30-December ...

HONDA CIVIC TYPE R R3 TO MAKE GRAVEL DEBUT ON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

The all-new Honda Civic Type R R3 will make its gravel debut on the Wales Rally Great Britain, the final round of this year's World Rally Championship from November 30-December 2.

Former Junior World Champion Dani Sola will drive the car in Great Britain, having given the Civic Type R R3 its asphalt World Championship debut on the Catalunya Rally in Spain last month. Sola won the R3 class against well-established opposition, and he would have finished fourth amongst the Junior Championship competitors.

The new R3 rules have been set out by world motor sport's governing body, the FIA, as a template for the future of rallying. The class is for two-litre, two-wheel drive cars that have been built to a strict set of cost-effective criteria. Performance is quite close to that of a Super 1600 car, but at a much lower price. The Honda Civic Type R R3 is powered by a new Honda engine developed in collaboration with Mugen, also conforming to the Group R regulations.

While the car has already proved its credentials on asphalt, most recently with a remarkable fifth overall on the Rallye du Valais in Switzerland, gravel will be a whole new challenge. The famous Rally Great Britain, which runs through the flat-out forests of south Wales, is one of the most challenging gravel events that the drivers will face all year. There is also a bigger entry list than has been seen on any other WRC event this year, with 121 cars taking the start in Cardiff.

Speeds are consistently high, and drivers also face the risk of muddy roads with ice and fog. Nonetheless, Britain holds very fond memories for Sola. The 32 year-old won his class and the Junior World Rally Championship on the 2002 Wales Rally Great Britain, and a year later he made his World Rally Car debut on the same event. He also won this years' Spanish gravel championship.

The Spaniard commented: "Great Britain is one of my favourite gravel events because the stages really reward commitment and I'm very much looking forward to driving them again. However, we are not underestimating the challenge ahead of us. As a team, we haven't competed on gravel since July and this new R3 car has never competed on gravel at all. Our mission will be to get the car to the finish and try to prove that we can be as competitive on gravel as we are on asphalt. It's going to be a very tough rally, with weather conditions that are potentially very difficult. But if everything comes together I believe we can do a very good job, as we have done so far all year."

Alessandro Mariani , the team principal of Italian firm JAS Motorsport that has built and developed the new Civic this year, said: "Our entry on the Rally Great Britain has been designed to show the potential of our R3 car on gravel, after the good results we have achieved recently on asphalt. Rally Great Britain represents a very exciting opportunity for us, which we intend to make the most of."

Stefano Fini, JAS Motorsport's chief engineer, added: "Our new R3 car is now on sale for our customers. The car is fully ready for any 2008 season, and we have already had a lot of interest from several different drivers and teams. We are confident that we will provide a competitive package for our customers, who will become valued members of the Honda family."

-credit: jasmotorsport.com

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