HPD Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SCCA Runoffs – Honda Competitor Parking




HPD has reserved some paddock space for our Honda Racing Line members that will be competing at the 2015 Runoffs. Currently, we plan to have 180'’ x 65’ of competitor parking in the Purple Paddock area, some of which will be covered by a 90’ x 65’ Tent/Building. Effective immediately, we are accepting requests from active Honda Racing Line members attending the event.

As in past events, we plan to hold social events and/or lunch in our covered area several times during the event, so we must make an area for that as well. These events are open to all Honda competitors, not just the ones parked in our area.
 

How To Request A Reservation:


Please send an email to HPD at: grmsadmin@hra.com if you are interested in parking in the Honda area before September 1st. Please include the following information:

  1. Length of transport vehicles (front bumper to open rear ramp)
  2. Racing class(es)
  3. Contact information, including cell phone.

After September 1st, it will be first-come, first-serve based on space available. These requests for parking with HPD will be ranked in the following order of priority.

  1. Distance traveled
  2. Date of Entry
  3. Current Points in Division (as of Sept. 1st)
  4. Number of Runoffs participated as a racer

Once we have gathered all requests, we will distribute a list to all those competitors with instructions/suggestions of how to best work the area we have reserved.

Any questions please do not hesitate to contact HPD.

Sincerely,

HPD Commercial Motorsports

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maxxis / HPD Score another B-Spec win at the 2015 New England Forest Rally!



Newry, ME. (July 17th-18th , 2015) – Maxxis renewed its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the brand new 2015 B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the New England Forest Rally [NEFR], the sixth round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship. 

The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had already built up an impressive four B-Spec wins as well as four overall two-wheel-drive podium finishes in the first four rounds of the 2015 National Championship.  Moving into the sixth round, the team’s main goal was to keep the momentum going by capturing another B-Spec win and finishing as high as possible in the 2WD field.




“We’ve had a great 2015 season so far,” stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for Maxxis/HPD. “We were able to finish in the top 10 overall in first four events, as well as capturing some wins in the B-Spec class. I’ve been really impressed with how well this new 2015 Honda Fit has been running. We ended up missing the fourth round in Washington State, so we’ll have our work cut out to get back up to speed!” 

New England Forest Rally is extremely challenging for most rally teams due to its very rough, long stages.  With a promise of improved road conditions for the 2015 event, the HPD / Maxxis Fit team was hoping for continued success.

“We had a great run here last year, but weren’t able to get first place in B-Spec due to some suspension issues,” Robinson explained, “We’re hopeful that the new Fit will be up to the challenge and that we can get the win in our class!”

The unique element to this years’ NEFR event was that the HPD/Maxxis team would now be competing against another B-Spec entry…. The 2009 Honda Fit that was campaigned formerly by HPD!  The 2009 B-Spec Fit would now be driven by World Endurance Championship driver Gustavo Yacaman and Mauricio Toro.  “We’re very excited to have another competitor in the B-Spec class, and it’s fantastic to have someone with such a great racing background interested in B-Spec racing,” Robinson said. “I hope that Gustavo has the same good luck that we’ve had in the 2009 Fit and has a strong first Rally here at NEFR!”

With three stages to contest on the opening day, the B-Spec Fit team set out to establish a strong pace for the B-Spec class.  “We’ll need to balance running a conservative race to save the car, while trying to be competitive and keep ahead of Tracey Gardiner and Gustavo Yacaman,” Robinson noted at the first service of the day.  “The roads are fast, but still have a lot of places to break the car if we’re not careful!”








By the end of the first day, the HPD / Maxxis team had built up a good lead over the new team of Yacaman/Toro and Gardiner/Manspeaker.  “We’ve established about a four-minute gap to Gustavo, but I’m amazed at how quickly his times are improving!” stated James at the end of Day 1.  “He will be pushing harder tomorrow, so [co-driver] Brian [Penza] and I have to keep pushing the pace to keep our lead over him.”

Moving into the second day of competition, the B-Spec Fit continued to build on its lead over the other B-Spec cars. “We’re having a great run today, with no real issues,” Robinson stated at the end of Stage 8.  “We’re working hard to try and keep our position in B-Spec and also try and advance a bit in the 2WD class.”  





Stage 11 would prove to be costly for the B-Spec Team, as a flat tire on a sharp rock meant that Robinson and Penza would have to change a tire on stage.  “We got a bit too close to a big rock, and unfortunately, cut our left front tire.  This happened so early in the stage that we were forced to stop and change it, losing us five minutes and putting any hopes of a 2WD podium out of reach,” James stated at the final service, “Thankfully, due to our clean running all day, we should be able to keep our first-place position in B-Spec.”

Coming into the final time control, the Maxxis/HPD team could celebrate with a first-place finish in B-Spec and a sixth-place 2WD finish. 





 
2015 NEFR Results
Cumulative Time
Car / Driver / Co-Driver
1st Place B-Spec      
2:01:35.5
2015 Honda Fit [Robinson/Penza]
2nd Place B-Spec
2:12:46.3
2009 Honda Fit [Yacaman/Toro]
3rd Place B-Spec
2:16:26.0
2007 Toyota Yaris [Gardiner/Manspeaker]

“We had an overall great event,” Robinson said at the awards ceremony. “The Fit was totally reliable; thanks to the great Maxxis R19 tire we were able to clinch another B-Spec win over our competition.”  

Robinson was also very impressed with Gustavo Yacaman’s result in the 2009 Honda Fit B-Spec car.  “I can’t believe how well Gustavo has adapted to the Fit, and to Rally in general.  He is going to be incredibly competitive, and we’re going to have our work cut out to stay ahead of him in the future!!”


Look for the THR B-Spec Fit at the next round of the Rally America National Championship Series, August 27-29 in Detroit Lake, Minnesota.


New England Forest Rally:
The sixth race on the Rally America National Championship schedule and always a favorite with drivers due to the technical demands of the course, the New England Forest Rally offers challenging logging roads with some of the longest stages on the Rally America National Championship.  This rally is also a crowd pleaser because of its stunning scenery and wildlife.  Quintessential northeastern settings such as winding creeks and one-lane bridges add not only beauty to the race, but also excitement, when encountered by drivers at breakneck speeds.


About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com





Tuesday, June 9, 2015

HPD and Maxxis Win B-Spec and get another 2WD Podium at 2015 Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally


 

Wellsboro, PA. (June 5-6th, 2015) – Maxxis renewed its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the brand new 2015 B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally [STPR], the fifth round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship. 

 

The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had already built up an impressive three B-Spec wins as well as three overall 2WD podiums in the first three rounds of the 2015 National Championship.  Moving into the fifth round, the team’s main goal was to keep the momentum going by capturing another B-Spec win and finishing as high as possible in the 2WD field.

 

“We’ve had a great start to the 2015 season,” stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for Maxxis/HPD. “We where we were able to finish in the top 10 overall in first three events, as well as capturing some wins in the B-Spec class. I’ve been really impressed with how well this new 2015 Honda Fit has been running. We ended up missing the fourth round in Washington State, so we’ll have our work cut out for us to get back up to speed!” 

 

The Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally would be the first time for the team to try out the Maxxis R19 soft compound gravel tire.  “We had great success with the hard compound gravel tire all last year and at Oregon Trail Rally earlier this year, so we are looking forward to trying the new tires on a dirt/gravel surface!” Robinson explained at the start of Day 1. 

 

Starting the first day of competition in the notoriously rough stages, the team’s overall strategy was to keep competitive times, but try to avoid damaging the car.  “There are two key stages today that are absolute car killers, and it’s very common for competitors to take themselves out of the race by trying to set fast times,” said Jim Guitar, Robinson’s co-driver in the Fit.  “Our goal is just to stay competitive and safe, so that we’re ready for tomorrow’s fast, smooth stages.”

 

After the evening stages were finished, the B-Spec Fit was first in class, and running third fastest in 2WD.  “We ran a conservative pace tonight, and I’m glad we did, because a lot of our competitors got damaged on the rough first and third stages,” said Robinson at the end of the opening night.  “Our goal now is to see how much we can push the pace tomorrow!”

 

Moving into the second day of competition, which included 10 new stages, the B-Spec Fit quickly started to move up the 2WD leader board.  “The roads are great, and we’re building a decent gap on our competition in B-Spec during every stage,” said Robinson at the first service of the day.  “We’re putting ahead by one to two minutes every stage, and setting the fourth-fastest time in 2WD at the same time!.”

 

By the second service on Day 2, the Fit was now eighth overall, second in 2WD, and first in B-Spec.  In addition, the smooth road surfaces were hardly putting any wear on the Maxxis R19 rally tires. 

 

“We have three long stages remaining, and we haven’t even touched the tires since the start of the race. You really can’t ask for a more reliable setup!” Guitar stated before heading back out for another round of stages.    

 

The team completed the final round and returned to the Main Time Control with another win in B-Spec, and a second-place finish among 2WD entries.  With this finish, the B-Spec Fit now has a dominant lead in the B-Spec National Championship, and moves into second place in the 2WD National Championship. 

 

“We really couldn’t have asked for a better result!” said an enthusiastic Robinson afterwards. “A huge thanks to HPD, Maxxis, and our fantastic crew for supporting us through this event.”

 

Look for the Honda Fit at the New England Forest Rally, the sixth round of the Rally America National Championship in Maine on July 17th.

 

About Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally:

The fourth race on the Rally America National Championship schedule, and one of the oldest rally races on the schedule, Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (commonly known as STPR) began in 1977. It is not only the oldest, but it is also the fastest rally in North America. With roads consisting of clay and gravel, the course is slippery, fast and extremely dangerous. Drivers travel at speeds reaching 100 MPH through densely wooded roads. The speeds combined with the dangerous course ensure that this rally is not for the faint at heart.

.About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com

Friday, May 8, 2015

Let’s Go Racing! Spec:RaceAtom presented by Honda Racing/HPD!

The 5th season of the Spec:RaceAtom series presented by Honda Racing/HPD at Virginia International Raceway is about to take the green flag for 2015.  May 16th & 17th will see Race #1 & #2 take place on the challenging, and highly technical South Course.  The South Course has been the course configuration for the opening round of the Spec:RaceAtom series since its inception in 2011.

The 2015 VIR Cup Series will see 10 races taking place on 3 different course configurations at VIR; South, Full, and Grand Course.  The series has been a great location for veteran racers, and novices alike to hone their race craft in identical vehicles.  Close racing action is always present. 
The Spec:RaceAtom vehicle is the track day sibling of the very popular Ariel Atom 3 with slight changes to assist with both safety and race level stress on the vehicles.  Safety and reliability were the top priorities when designing this vehicle with the inclusion of a fully welded roll structure, aluminum racing seat, as well as additional under structure bracing.  Reliability comes thanks to a Honda 2.4L engines utilized in a naturally aspirated form producing 230hp which is mated to a 6-speed transmission.
Pre-season testing has gone very well for some drivers and we are likely to see track records fall this season.  Stay tuned to this blog for race reports after each event. 

Interested to join in on the action?  Give us a call at 434.822.9130 or email at mswain@tmiautotech.com

2015 VIR Cup Schedule – Spec:RaceAtom presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Race #1 May 16th – VIR South Course

Race #2 May 17th – VIR South Course

Race #3 July 4th – VIR Full Course

Race #4 July 5th – VIR Full Course

Race #5 July 25th – VIR South Course

Race #6 July 26th – VIR South Course

Race #7 August 29th – VIR South Course

Race #8 August 30th – VIR Full Course

Race #9 November 28th – VIR Grand Course

Race #10 November 29th – VIR Full Course

Monday, April 27, 2015

HPD and Maxxis Win B-Spec and get another 2WD Podium at 2015 Oregon Trail Rally



Portland, OR. (Apr 24-26, 2015) – Maxxis renewed its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the brand new 2015 B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Oregon Trail Rally, the third round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship. 

The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had already built up an impressive pair of B-Spec wins as well as a pair of overall 2WD podiums in the first two rounds of the 2015 National Championship.  Moving into the third round, the team’s main goal was to keep the momentum going by capturing another B-Spec win and finishing as high as possible in the 2WD field.

“We’ve had a great start to the 2015 season, where we were able to finish in the top 10 overall in first two events, as well as capturing some wins in the B-Spec class,” stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for Maxxis/HPD. “I’ve been really impressed with how well this new 2015 Honda Fit has been running. We know the Fit will be running great this weekend, but we’ll have our work cut out for us in the 2WD class, as we have some pretty impressive competitors!” 




 For the notoriously fast Oregon Trail Rally, several very high horsepower 2WD cars were present, in addition to B-Spec competitors in the Toyota Yaris.  “Having former three-time 2WD National Champ Chris Duplessis here in a turbo Subaru BRZ, along with a pair of race-prepared Ford Fiesta STs and a Ford Fiesta R2, is going to make finishing on the 2WD podium very difficult,” Robinson commented prior to the Rally start.  

Starting out on the first day of competition at Portland International Raceway, the team’s overall strategy was to run conservatively and try to avoid damage.  “Although the stages themselves are short and mostly take place on portions of the raceway, there is still danger in taking yourself out of the race by trying to set fast times,” said Brian Penza, Robinson’s co-driver in the Fit.  “Our goal is just to stay competitive and safe, so that we’re ready for tomorrow’s fast stages outside Dufur [OR].”

After the evening stages were finished, the B-Spec Fit was first in class, and running third fastest in 2WD.  “We had no issues with the car and the Maxxis tires were giving us good confidence to push a bit during Stages 3 and 4,” said Robinson at the end of the night.  “We’re hoping we can keep our overall position on the long, fast stages tomorrow!”




 Moving into the second day, which included eight new stages, the B-Spec Fit battled to hold its own with the faster 2WD cars on the wide open stages outside Dufur.  “We literally couldn’t have gone any faster today!” Robinson stated at the second service of the day.  “Everything is going great with the car, but we’re just not able to keep up with the high-powered 2WD cars. The only thing that is helping us to keep our position is the misfortune of a few of our 2WD competitors.”

By the end of the Day Two, the Fit had actually moved up to 2nd in 2WD and had built up a 17-minute lead over the second-place B-Spec Toyota Yaris. 



The final day began with the promise of more tight, technical stages, along with more sunny weather. As Robinson said at the start of Stage 12, “We were very fortunate to have inherited second place in 2WD yesterday, but we’ll have our work cut out for us because we have the turbo Ford Fiesta ST of Steve LaRoza only 42 seconds behind us!”

By the end of Stage 17, the B-Spec Honda Fit had grown the lead over the Ford Fiesta ST to over three minutes. “We’re having a great time on these tight stages, and we’re getting a lot of confidence from the Maxxis R19 tire,” Robinson noted. “We’re going to push as hard as we can on the final stage to see how quick our car can run on these tight stages!”

The team finished the event and returned to the Main Time Control to find out that the 2015 B-Spec Honda Fit had not only set the third-fastest 2WD time on the final stage, but also had added another 30 seconds to its lead over the Ford Fiesta ST, meaning that the B-Spec car not only finished first in B-Spec, but also collected another 2WD second-place finish! “We’re shocked that we were able to get this finish for the second time this year, and very thankful that we were able to run a completely clean race without mechanical issues,” Robinson said. “Due to the reliability of our car and setup, we were able to get ourselves back on the overall 2WD podium, which is a huge benefit to Honda for manufacturers’ points.




“We really couldn’t have asked for a better result! A huge thanks to HPD, Maxxis, and our fantastic crew for supporting us through this event.”

Look for the Honda Fit on display at the 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and in action at the fifth round of the Rally America National Championship in Pennsylvania!


About Oregon Trail Rally:
The third race on the Rally America National Championship schedule, Oregon Trail is the only three-day rally event in the Championship, taking place in urban Portland, OR and through the Mt. Hood farmlands outside the city. With fast stretches and twisting foothill runs, this rally is always packed with excitement. This rally offers fans the best rally viewing opportunities, due to its accessibility and wide-open, unobstructed areas.

About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com



Thursday, April 9, 2015

HPD and Maxxis Win B-Spec and get another 2WD Podium at 2015 100 Acre Wood Rally


Salem, MO. (Feb 27-28, 2015) – Maxxis renewed its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the brand new 2015 B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the 100 Acre Wood Rally, the second round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship.
 

 
All Photos: Tomasz Dudek www.photographybyvix.com
 
The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had already gotten a fantastic first-place result from the new 2015 B-Spec Rally Fit at Sno*Drift, so hopes were high for another good finish at the notoriously unpredictable 100 Acre Wood Rally.  Based on the team’s experience, the weather in Salem, Missouri seemed to fluctuate between perfect gravel rally conditions and snow/ice rally conditions.  The 2015 event was contested in the snow and ice, with the promise of large snow accumulations on Day Two. 



“We had a fantastic first event, where we were able to finish eighth overall, second in 2WD, and first in B-Spec.  Our new 2015 B-Spec Fit was fantastic, and the new CVT gearbox held up great," stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for Maxxis/HPD.  “We’re hoping that the suspension settings and tire modifications that we worked out at Sno*Drift will give us an edge against our new B-Spec competition!” 

Previously, the B-Spec class has been comprised of the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and an occasional Ford Fiesta.  For the 100 Acre Wood event, a new competitor has arrived: The Chevrolet Sonic.  “We’re excited to have more competition in the B-Spec class, and I hope that we’re all able to make it to the finish,” James commented prior to the Rally start.

Starting out on the mostly ice-covered roads, the new Fit was able to build up a 10-minute lead over the Sonic, and a 15-minute lead over the Yaris.  “The road conditions are just absolutely treacherous, and it’s a real struggle to keep the car on the road,” James explained at the end of Stage 5.  Despite these difficulties, the Maxxis/HPD team had moved up to third in 2WD and eighth overall!

By the end of the first nine stages of Day One, the B-Spec Fit was a solid 14 minutes ahead of the second-place Chevy Sonic and was maintaining third in 2WD.  “We couldn’t be happier with our position as well as with the car and tire setup,” stated Brian Penza, returning as Robinson’s co-driver on the Maxxis/HPD rally team. “ Everything seems to be working great, and we’ve been getting fantastic support from our crew.”  

Moving into the second day of competition, the weather started to get worse.  With snow starting to accumulate, the crucial question would be how the icy stages would impact everyone’s stage times.  By the end of Stage 12, the B-Spec Fit was sixth overall, and second in 2WD.  “We were very lucky on those stages,” James said at the first service of the day. “A lot of our competitors suffered punctures on Stage 10, including ourselves. We were able to drive out of the stage on the flat, and change it in time for the long, difficult Stage 11.  Due to that, we were able to actually make up some time!”

The treacherous conditions finally caught up to the B-Spec team on Stage 14, where a particularly icy hill proved nearly impossible to navigate.  “We easily lost four minutes trying to get up that one hill… we were very lucky, though, and we were able to get up the hill with some expert help from the spectators,” noted Penza afterward. “We wish that we hadn’t gotten stuck, but realistically, we got off pretty easy compared to a lot of the other teams.” 

The event started with 60 cars, but only 41 made it to the finish. 

“We were happy to finish with about a 28-minute lead over our competition and have no real issues throughout the event,” said Robinson. “The Fit was fantastic all weekend, and we ended up finishing eighth overall, third-fastest in 2WD overall, and still average 20MPG for the entire event! We’re excited to have to good finishes so far, and hope to carry that momentum into the third round of the Rally America National Championship!”

Look for the Honda Fit at the next round in Oregon!

About 100 Acre Wood Rally:

The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is the second race of the Rally America National Championship and is known as one of the most scenic. Named after the storybook home of Winnie the Pooh, the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is a picturesque race with enough twists and turns to test every driver’s ability. Set in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, this race is always a favorite due to its pristine surroundings and fast, tight roads. Although you won’t see Winnie the Pooh or any of his friends, you will see some of the best rally driving on some of the best rally roads in North America.

About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship which consists of at least seven national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour, driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STIs, Ford Fiestas and Scion XDs on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com

 

 

Monday, March 2, 2015

THR Rally Team unveil New CRZ Rally car at 2015 100 Acre Wood Rally


Salem, MO. (Feb 27-28, 2015) – Partnering again for 2015, Team Honda Research (THR) and HPD have joined to showcase another new rally platform in the form of a Honda CRZ. Building on the successful development of the popular B-Spec Fits, the CRZ is build specifically for rally competition and would debut at the 2015 100 Acre Wood Event.

The base for the new rally platform is a 2011 Honda CRZ EX. The team took the former rental car, and began the transformation to rally machine late last year. Although the hybrid unit was removed to save weight, the rest of the vehicle is in nearly stock form with the exception of the cage and safety equipment required by competition rules and the addition of rally specific dampers from Hot Bits. In this build state, the car would be eligible for the Group 2 class, one of the most heavily contested classes in the regional series.

The 100 Acre Wood event is notoriously hard to predict. The weather can range from hot and sunny, making it a fantastic gravel event, or it can be cold and snowy, similar to Sno*Drift. As the event neared, it became apparent that the event would be cold, snowy and slippery. The G2 field was also looking to be contested by 16 other competitors. Both of these combined would make for an exciting and challenging debut event.

As the event got under way, the road conditions were a mix of gravel, snow, and a thick ice coating. Despite this, the THR CRZ was able to stay near the front of the G2 pack, positioned in 6th place before the first service. “The roads are very tough, but we’re doing our best to keep it tidy and stay on the road”, said Jordan Guitar, driver of the THR CRZ.

Final standings at the end of day one and the first 9 stages saw the CRZ positioned in 5th place in G2, only 4 seconds behind the 4th place competitor, a Toyota Matrix. “We’re very pleased with the performance of the THR CRZ today. Our initial setup shows a lot of potential and we’re having a great time!”, stated Guitar, “We also can’t thank our service crew enough for toughing it out today”

Day 2 started with a light snow flurry, causing teams to ponder if their setup would be sufficient for the icy stages now starting to get covered up in snow. Off to a rocky start, the THR CRZ had a spin on stage ten, caused from sliding sideways on a gravel section onto a patch of ice just over the top of a small crest. The spin put the front end of the CRZ into a snow bank, luckily only causing minor damage. Fighting a few electrical gremlins, on stage eleven the CRZ stalled and then had difficulties trying to restart the vehicle.

On stage 12, the CRZ found some more traction, and made up some time, catching and passing an open light car. As the teams rolled in for the first service of the day, the THR CRZ was sitting in 6th place in G2. “We had some trouble on stages ten and eleven”, stated Guitar, “but we were starting to move a little better on stage 12 and made up a little time.”

After service, the roads were getting perpetually more treacherous. As the roads got worse, several delays caused the sanctioning body to cancel the running of the final stages, meaning the THR CRZ would need to transit stages 13-15 and make the long drive back to the rally finish.
 
Guitar and Rogers in the THR CRZ finished in 4th place of the 12 G2 cars that finished the event. “Conditions this weekend made for a tough inaugural event, but overall we are very pleased with the performance of the THR CRZ”, stated Guitar, “we have learned a few things this weekend that we’ll use to make the CRZ even more competitive!”


Look for the THR CRZ in the next round of the championship at the Oregon Trail Rally.

Monday, February 9, 2015

New HPD 2015 B-Spec Honda Fit Debuts at Sno*Drift Rally


Returning for the 2015 season, the B-Spec Fit team was looking forward to starting the difficult Sno*Drift rally and defending its 2014 B-Spec Championship title. In addition, the team would campaign a brand new 2015 Honda Fit, equipped with the CVT transmission.  This would be the first time in 15 years that a Honda would compete in North American Rally with such a unique transmission. 


The 2014 sponsor Maxxis renewed its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the brand new 2015 B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Sno*Drift Rally, the first round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship. 

“It’s always exciting to get to develop a brand new car and test it out on such a unique event,” said Honda B-Spec Driver James Robinson, “Due to the icy, slick conditions, Sno*Drift is probably the best place for us to test out our new car and see if this new drivetrain setup will be successful in Rally.”

With eight stages to contest on Day One, the Fit set off with Josh Kramer filling the co-driver seat. “Our goal this weekend is to gather as much data as we can for the new car, and of course try and stay competitive,” said Kramer, “Although our normal B-Spec competition couldn’t make it to the event, we still have a great field of 2WD cars to compete against!”
 

By Stage 4, the Fit was had moved up 2 places to 9th overall, managing to keep pace with some of the more powerful 2WD cars. “The road conditions are pretty good, and we’re starting to get the hang of the new B-Spec Fit,” said Robinson at the first service, “The CVT transmission is actually giving us some improved acceleration on the road and its great having the ability to use the paddle-shifters to quickly change gear ratios.” 
 

As Day 1 drew to a close, the team of Robinson and Kramer had already moved into 2nd place overall in the 2WD National class, holding 9-minute lead over the R1 Ford Fiesta of Cameron Steely.   In addition, the new B-Spec Fit had completed the 8 stages without any mechanical issues. “So far the new Fit has been fantastic!” said Robinson, “We’ve had no issues and the new transmission seems to be taking the rough conditions without any concern.”
 
As Day 2 got underway, the Fit continued to hold its 2nd 2WD position and run clean.  By the first service, the Fit had added another minute to its advantage over the R1 Fiesta. “We’re having fun today,” stated Kramer at the Atlanta Service, “the car is running strong and James is driving great, so we’re going to try and maintain our momentum.”
 
Stage 16 proved to be the most challenging stage of the rally, as it was over 24 miles in length. This stage would be the true test of the new Fit as this would be almost 30 minutes of constant pushing on a variety of road surfaces. “We are a little bit anxious to start this long stage,” reported Robinson at the second service of the day. “This will be the true litmus test for this new car.  If we can make it for the full stage without any transmission overheating issues, we should have full confidence for the rest of the season!” As the team hoped, the car made it through the long punishing 16th stage and was able to still set the 4th fastest 2WD time!
 
At the end of the event, the Fit had finished first in B-Spec, second-place finish in 2WD, and an amazing 8th place overall. “We are overjoyed with our results this weekend,” said Robinson after the event. “Our expectations were to test out the new car and to make sure we finished the event.  This result completely exceeded any expectation we had!”
 
Look for the Maxxis / HPD B-Spec Fit to continue in its hunt for the championship next month at The Rally in the 100-Acre Wood in Salem, MO.

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