HPD Blog

Thursday, February 6, 2014

HPD and THR Head to 2014 Sno*drift Rally with B-Spec Honda Fit

Atlanta, MI. (January 24-25th, 2014)

Team Honda Research continued its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Sno*Drift Rally, the first round of the 2014 Rally America National Championship. 

Returning for the 2014 season, the B-Spec Fit team was looking forward to starting the difficult Sno*Drift rally and defending its 2013 B-Spec Championship title. With an increased number of strong 2WD entries from both Ford and Toyota, the first round would be hotly contested on the cold and treacherous roads of northern Michigan.

“We’re excited to be back for the beginning of the 2014 Rally America season,” said Honda B-Spec Driver James Robinson, “Sno*Drift is a unique event to the Rally America series, and we’re confident that the changes we’ve been working on for the Fit on will improve our competitiveness here.”

With nine stages to contest on Day One, the Fit set off with Jordan Guitar again filling the co-driver seat. “Our goal this weekend is to showcase what the B-Spec Fit can do in the wintery conditions,” said Guitar, “The weather is very cold, with high winds, and should be a challenging event.”

By Stage 5, the Fit was running fast and clean, managing to squeeze out a seven-minute lead over the B-Spec Yaris entry, and keeping pace with some of the more powerful 2WD cars. “The roads are slick right now, with lots of cars sliding off the road and getting stuck,” said Robinson at the first service, “but I’m gaining more confidence with each stage, and we’re really starting to get into a great rhythm.” 

As a testament to the Fit’s capability in the icy conditions, the cars of two competitors were pulled from snow banks during the first day’s competition.  “We know how frustrating it is to get stuck on stage, and with the gap we had built up over the B-Spec competition, we had a bit of margin to stop and help some fellow competitors,” James noted. “Usually, this results in only a minute or two of additional time, but it really is the heart of rallying.  Even though we are in direct competition with each other, it’s normal for rally teams to help each other out.”

As Day 1 drew to a close, the team of Robinson and Guitar had amassed a 40-minute lead over the B-Spec Toyota. The Fit had some minor damage, however, as the slippery conditions of Stage 8 had left them without the front bumper, which was ripped off during an impact with a snow bank. “We had a minor impact with a snow bank on Stage 8,” said Robinson, “but the car is still running strong, so we’ll do a thorough check tonight and return at full strength for tomorrow’s stages.”

As Day 2 got underway, the Fit continued to add to its lead over the other B-Spec competitors. By the first service, the Fit had added another six minutes to its advantage and continued to keep pace with some of the Top 2WD cars. “We’re having fun today,” stated Guitar 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 14 proved to be a problem for the Fit, however. About 1.5 miles into the stage, one corner proved more slippery than predicted, and the car slid through the corner and got stuck in the snow bank on the other side. “We lost a little bit of time on that stage,” reported Robinson at the second service of the day. “We’re going to try and push a bit more through the remaining stages to see if we can catch the top 2WD cars.”

At the end of the event, the Fit had finished first in B-Spec, and had managed a third-place finish in 2WD overall. “We are very happy with our results this weekend,” said Robinson after the event. “This is a great way to kick off the 2014 season, and gives us good confidence going into the remaining events.”

Look for the THR B-Spec Fit to continue in its hunt for the championship next month at The Rally in the 100-Acre Wood in Salem, MO.

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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