Mt. Hood, OR. (May 2nd-4th, 2014) – HPD and THR capture another 2WD podium finish at the 2014 Oregon Trail Rally with B-SPEC Honda Fit
THR partnered with HPD and Maxxis Tires to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the third round of the Rally-America National Championship.
“We had a fantastic 2013 season, where we were able to finish first in the B-Spec National Championship and fourth in the 2WD overall National Championship. We wanted to come back and build on that success by refining the B-Spec package for the Honda Fit," stated James Robinson, Honda Engineer and driver for THR. “We hope that 2014 will bring more competition and excitement in the class, thanks to the continued involvement of Ford Racing and Toyota.”
In the first two rounds in the 2014 Championship, the B-Spec Fit collected two wins and an overall 2WD podium finish at the Sno*Drift event. With this strong start to the season, the team was prepared to fight for another victory in the fast, technical stages in Oregon.
In addition, THR and HPD were able to partner with Maxxis Tire to provide competition rally tires for the B-Spec Fit. “We’re excited to try out the Maxxis R19 rally tires! We know they have had success in Asia and South America, but this would be the first time to try them out in North American Rally,” James explained at the beginning of the event.
Starting out on the first day of competition at Portland International Raceway, the team’s overall strategy was to feel out the new setup and tires, 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 Josh Kramer, James’ 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 sixth fastest in 2WD. “We had no issues with the car and the tires were giving us good confidence to push a bit on Stage 4,” said James 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 of competition, which included eight new stages, the B-Spec Fit struggled to keep up with the faster 2WD cars on the wide open stages outside Dufur. “We literally couldn’t have gone any faster today!” James 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. We’re looking forward to tomorrow’s more technical stages.”
By the end of the Day Two, the Fit maintained its class position in B-Spec, but now was in sixth overall for 2WD.
The final day began with the promise of more tight, technical stages, along with more inclement weather. As James said at the start of Stage 12, “We got rain last night, and it’s going to be raining a bit this afternoon, as well… This should help us out tremendously!”
By the end of Stage17, the B-Spec Honda Fit had moved from sixth to fourth in 2WD overall. “We’re having a great time on these tight stages, and we’re getting a lot of confidence from the new Maxxis R19 tire,” James noted. “Our goal is to conservatively push through the last stage and try and collect the most points we can in 2WD.”
The team finished the final event and returned to the Main Time Control to find out that the third-place 2WD car couldn’t finish the last stage, meaning that the B-Spec car not only finished first in B-Spec, but also collected another 2WD third-place podium 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 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday May 10th, and in action at the fourth round of the Rally America National Championship in Pennsylvania!
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.
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