Wellsboro, PA. (May 30-31st 2014) – HPD and THR capture another B-Spec win at the 2014 Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally with B-SPEC Honda Fit
Team Honda Research partnered with Honda Performance Development and Maxxis Tires to showcase the B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the fourth 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 three rounds in the 2014 Championship, the B-Spec Fit collected three wins and two overall 2WD podium finish at the Sno*Drift, and Oregon Trail events. With this strong start to the season, the team was prepared to fight for another victory in the fast, flowing stages of Pennsylvania.
The Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally [STPR] marked the second event where THR and HPD partnered with Maxxis Tire to provide competition rally tires for the B-Spec Fit. “We had great success with the R19 rally tire at the Oregon Trail Rally earlier this month, so we are looking forward to trying them out on this unique 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 damage. “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 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, smooth stages.”
After the evening stages were finished, the B-Spec Fit was first in class, and running sixth fastest in 2WD. “We had a bit of trouble with one of our front dampers, but we were able to make it through the first five stages without any real issue,” said Robinson at the end of the first night. “Our goal now is to see how much we can push the pace tomorrow!”
Moving into the second day of competition, which included 11 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 on 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 12th overall, fourth 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!” Penza stated before heading back out for another round of stages.
There was one big upset during Day 2, which saw the B-Spec competitor of Tracey Gardiner and Tabitha Lohr crashing out on Stage 10. “We were sorry to hear about their crash, but we’re very happy that they’re both OK!” Robinson said. “Hopefully, this means we’ll see them at the next round.”
By the end of Stage 14, the B-Spec Honda Fit was running trouble-free and still first in B-Spec, fourth in 2WD, and 12th overall. “We’re having a great time on these fast flowing stages, and I’m amazed at how well the R19 tire is working here at STPR,” Robinson noted. “We have only two remaining stages back at the fairgrounds, and we’re hopeful of another strong finish here at STPR.”
The team completed the final round and returned to the Main Time Control with another win in B-Spec, and a fourth-place overall 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 third place overall 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 18th!!
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.
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