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.