HPD Blog

Monday, April 27, 2015

HPD and Maxxis Win B-Spec and get another 2WD Podium at 2015 Oregon Trail Rally

Portland, OR. (Apr 24-26, 2015) – Maxxis renewed its partnership with Honda Performance Development to showcase the brand new 2015 B-Spec Fit developed specifically for Rally competition at the Oregon Trail Rally, the third round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship. 

The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had already built up an impressive pair of B-Spec wins as well as a pair of overall 2WD podiums in the first two rounds of the 2015 National Championship.  Moving into the third round, the team’s main goal was to keep the momentum going by capturing another B-Spec win and finishing as high as possible in the 2WD field.

“We’ve had a great start to the 2015 season, where we were able to finish in the top 10 overall in first two events, as well as capturing some wins in the B-Spec class,” stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for Maxxis/HPD. “I’ve been really impressed with how well this new 2015 Honda Fit has been running. We know the Fit will be running great this weekend, but we’ll have our work cut out for us in the 2WD class, as we have some pretty impressive competitors!” 

 For the notoriously fast Oregon Trail Rally, several very high horsepower 2WD cars were present, in addition to B-Spec competitors in the Toyota Yaris.  “Having former three-time 2WD National Champ Chris Duplessis here in a turbo Subaru BRZ, along with a pair of race-prepared Ford Fiesta STs and a Ford Fiesta R2, is going to make finishing on the 2WD podium very difficult,” Robinson commented prior to the Rally start.  

Starting out on the first day of competition at Portland International Raceway, the team’s overall strategy was to run conservatively 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 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 stages outside Dufur [OR].”

After the evening stages were finished, the B-Spec Fit was first in class, and running third fastest in 2WD.  “We had no issues with the car and the Maxxis tires were giving us good confidence to push a bit during Stages 3 and 4,” said Robinson 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, which included eight new stages, the B-Spec Fit battled to hold its own with the faster 2WD cars on the wide open stages outside Dufur.  “We literally couldn’t have gone any faster today!” Robinson 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. The only thing that is helping us to keep our position is the misfortune of a few of our 2WD competitors.”

By the end of the Day Two, the Fit had actually moved up to 2nd in 2WD and had built up a 17-minute lead over the second-place B-Spec Toyota Yaris. 

The final day began with the promise of more tight, technical stages, along with more sunny weather. As Robinson said at the start of Stage 12, “We were very fortunate to have inherited second place in 2WD yesterday, but we’ll have our work cut out for us because we have the turbo Ford Fiesta ST of Steve LaRoza only 42 seconds behind us!”

By the end of Stage 17, the B-Spec Honda Fit had grown the lead over the Ford Fiesta ST to over three minutes. “We’re having a great time on these tight stages, and we’re getting a lot of confidence from the Maxxis R19 tire,” Robinson noted. “We’re going to push as hard as we can on the final stage to see how quick our car can run on these tight stages!”

The team finished the event and returned to the Main Time Control to find out that the 2015 B-Spec Honda Fit had not only set the third-fastest 2WD time on the final stage, but also had added another 30 seconds to its lead over the Ford Fiesta ST, meaning that the B-Spec car not only finished first in B-Spec, but also collected another 2WD second-place 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 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and in action at the fifth round of the Rally America National Championship in Pennsylvania!

About Oregon Trail Rally:
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.

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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