HPD Blog

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RSR Race Report from Watkins Glen

My name is Corey Fergus. I race the #197 Honda Civic Si for RSR Motorsports in Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge with co-driver Owen Trinkler.

Our sixth race of the season was at Watkins Glen International in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York. Unfortunately, the weather made this weekend a little less beautiful, as it rained every day we were competing. Having said that, this race was still very special to us because it marked the debut of our new Honda Civic Si.

The whole team was very excited to be running the new car. Now, all three of RSR Motorsports’ cars are the new Civics, which makes things easier and more consistent for the team. I was excited to be in the new car for many reasons. The new Civic has a 2.4-liter instead of a 2.0. More power! Also, it’s nice to be in an updated car with brand new equipment and instruments. Another cool thing about the new Civics is that HPD supplies the race ready engines and has a ready supply of suspension components and materials to support the Honda teams. This makes things a little more reliable and consistent throughout the paddock. Not to mention, I think the look of the new car is better.

Before heading to Watkins Glen, we wanted to make sure the car was going to be ready for its debut. We didn’t want to just finish at the Glen; we wanted to win. Since it had never been raced before, we had to break it in. One week before the race, we took it to Nelson Ledges in Northeast Ohio, a somewhat local track for me. This track was the venue for the first time I beat my dad in SCCA’s Sports 2000 National class. So, it brought back some memories testing there. It is perhaps the bumpiest and fastest track in the country, which meant it was a great place to test. If you can go fast at Nelson, you can go fast anywhere. After a two-day test, we learned some valuable information and were ready for the Glen.
As I said, the weather was not exactly beautiful for our race weekend. We only ended up getting in one dry session before qualifying. So, mostly all of our testing was in the rain. With little dry testing, it was disappointing because we wanted to make sure our car was going to be the best it could be for the race. However, after qualifying we knew we had a great car. I was sitting P1, on the pole, for the race with a new track record. I couldn’t have asked for a better car from the team.

The race started off very well, and I led my entire stint, which was about the first hour of the 2.5 hour race. Changing conditions made this race a tough strategy call. It would rain, then stop, and then rain again. Our car seemed to be handling the conditions nicely though. We were running very well, but a tiny mistake from Owen cost us six positions early on in his stint. It was hard to make those back up. The race ended with a last lap shootout after a caution period. Owen was in 7th at the start of the last lap. With some great driving, he passed three cars and we wound up 4th!

Overall, a pretty solid debut weekend for our new Civic. Honda cars also finished 2nd, and 3rd, a great performance for Honda to back up the podium sweep at Mid-Ohio. After the race at the Glen, we moved from 15th in the championship to 8th. Honda is still in a close 3rd in the Manufacturer’s championship.

The next race is at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 weekend July 26th. I’m going to be a finishing driver, driving the #198 Honda Civic! I’m really excited and looking forward to the opportunity.

See you at the track!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

HPD and THR head to 2013 Susquehannock Trail Rally with B-Spec Honda Fit - Wellsboro, PA. (May 30, June 1st , 2013)

Team Honda Research partnered with Honda Performance Development to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the third round of the Rally America National Championship. 

“Based on the interest in B-Spec from its inaugural year in 2012, we wanted to come back and run a full season to showcase the true competitiveness of the B-Spec Rally Fit," stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for THR.  “Looking forward to 2013, we hope to have more competition and excitement in the class, thanks to the continued involvement of Ford Racing and Toyota.” 

Moving on to the fourth of seven National Championship rounds, the B-Spec Fit was now dealing with the aftermath of an unfortunate DNF in Oregon.  “We had hoped to build on our two strong finishes [in the opening two events] when we competed in Oregon, but unfortunately, we suffered damage from a rock that kept us from finishing the three-day event,” James noted.  “On the upside, we’re continually learning methods to make the B-Spec Rally kit more robust for our customers, and we have a lot more confidence coming to the fast, smooth roads here in Pennsylvania.”
As one of the oldest rallies contested on the Rally America circuit, Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally [STPR] is also a favorite of drivers, due to the smoothness of the circuit.  “We know that roads like this tend to favor the high-powered cars, but, as long as James doesn’t lift, we should be able to keep up!” said Jordan Guitar, co-driver for the B-Spec Team. 

With only five stages to contest on the opening day, the B-Spec Fit team quickly set out to get ahead of the production-based Fiestas.  By the end of Day One, the Fit was the 10th-fastest 2WD car and 33rd overall out of 54 competitors.  “The first days’ stages are challenging, but quick, and we’re starting to ramp up the pace,”  James said upon the day’s completion.  “For this event, we actually don’t have anyone in our class officially, so we’re trying to balance finishing while trying to run with the quicker Group 2 cars.”

Moving into the second day of competition, The B-Spec Fit continued to cut into the leads of the faster 2WD competitors.  By Stage 12, it had set the 16th-fastest time overall and 5th fastest among 2WD cars.  In fact, the only 2WD cars ahead of the production-based Fit were turbocharged Group 5 cars and heavily modified Group 2 Ford Fiestas.  “We’re really pleased with how the Fit is handling these roads, and its stability at high speeds,” James said.  “We feel very comfortable to push a bit more on these last few stages.” 

By the end of event, the B-Spec Fit finished 13th overall, first in B-Spec, and 5th among 2WD entries.  “We couldn’t be happier with the car’s performance here at STPR,”  Jordan said, “This helps us keep our overall lead in the B-Spec championship and also shows that the B-Spec platform can compete head-to-head with the notoriously fast Group 2 front-runners.” 

“We hope that we can continue to have good stage-time battles with the other B-Spec prepared cars in two-wheel drive,” James added. “The Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris are both excellent competition cars, and we should continue our exciting competition for the remaining rounds this year!”

Check out this on-track video of the Honda Racing / HPD Rally vehicles at STPR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19K0rDhxDwo&sns=em

Rally America interview with James Robinson at STPR: http://rally-america.com/videos/yt-IFgNQCK5KmA/1838-Robinson

Look for the THR B-Spec Fit at the next round of the Rally America National Championship Series, on July 26-27th in Newry, Maine.

Susquehannock Trail 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 of 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

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