HPD Blog

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maxxis / HPD Score another B-Spec win at the 2015 New England Forest Rally!

Newry, ME. (July 17th-18th , 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 New England Forest Rally [NEFR], the sixth round of the 2015 Rally America National Championship. 

The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had already built up an impressive four B-Spec wins as well as four overall two-wheel-drive podium finishes in the first four rounds of the 2015 National Championship.  Moving into the sixth 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 2015 season so far,” stated James Robinson, Honda engineer and driver for Maxxis/HPD. “We were able to finish in the top 10 overall in first four events, as well as capturing some wins in the B-Spec class. I’ve been really impressed with how well this new 2015 Honda Fit has been running. We ended up missing the fourth round in Washington State, so we’ll have our work cut out to get back up to speed!” 

New England Forest Rally is extremely challenging for most rally teams due to its very rough, long stages.  With a promise of improved road conditions for the 2015 event, the HPD / Maxxis Fit team was hoping for continued success.

“We had a great run here last year, but weren’t able to get first place in B-Spec due to some suspension issues,” Robinson explained, “We’re hopeful that the new Fit will be up to the challenge and that we can get the win in our class!”

The unique element to this years’ NEFR event was that the HPD/Maxxis team would now be competing against another B-Spec entry…. The 2009 Honda Fit that was campaigned formerly by HPD!  The 2009 B-Spec Fit would now be driven by World Endurance Championship driver Gustavo Yacaman and Mauricio Toro.  “We’re very excited to have another competitor in the B-Spec class, and it’s fantastic to have someone with such a great racing background interested in B-Spec racing,” Robinson said. “I hope that Gustavo has the same good luck that we’ve had in the 2009 Fit and has a strong first Rally here at NEFR!”

With three stages to contest on the opening day, the B-Spec Fit team set out to establish a strong pace for the B-Spec class.  “We’ll need to balance running a conservative race to save the car, while trying to be competitive and keep ahead of Tracey Gardiner and Gustavo Yacaman,” Robinson noted at the first service of the day.  “The roads are fast, but still have a lot of places to break the car if we’re not careful!”

By the end of the first day, the HPD / Maxxis team had built up a good lead over the new team of Yacaman/Toro and Gardiner/Manspeaker.  “We’ve established about a four-minute gap to Gustavo, but I’m amazed at how quickly his times are improving!” stated James at the end of Day 1.  “He will be pushing harder tomorrow, so [co-driver] Brian [Penza] and I have to keep pushing the pace to keep our lead over him.”

Moving into the second day of competition, the B-Spec Fit continued to build on its lead over the other B-Spec cars. “We’re having a great run today, with no real issues,” Robinson stated at the end of Stage 8.  “We’re working hard to try and keep our position in B-Spec and also try and advance a bit in the 2WD class.”  

Stage 11 would prove to be costly for the B-Spec Team, as a flat tire on a sharp rock meant that Robinson and Penza would have to change a tire on stage.  “We got a bit too close to a big rock, and unfortunately, cut our left front tire.  This happened so early in the stage that we were forced to stop and change it, losing us five minutes and putting any hopes of a 2WD podium out of reach,” James stated at the final service, “Thankfully, due to our clean running all day, we should be able to keep our first-place position in B-Spec.”

Coming into the final time control, the Maxxis/HPD team could celebrate with a first-place finish in B-Spec and a sixth-place 2WD finish. 

2015 NEFR Results
Cumulative Time
Car / Driver / Co-Driver
1st Place B-Spec      
2015 Honda Fit [Robinson/Penza]
2nd Place B-Spec
2009 Honda Fit [Yacaman/Toro]
3rd Place B-Spec
2007 Toyota Yaris [Gardiner/Manspeaker]

“We had an overall great event,” Robinson said at the awards ceremony. “The Fit was totally reliable; thanks to the great Maxxis R19 tire we were able to clinch another B-Spec win over our competition.”  

Robinson was also very impressed with Gustavo Yacaman’s result in the 2009 Honda Fit B-Spec car.  “I can’t believe how well Gustavo has adapted to the Fit, and to Rally in general.  He is going to be incredibly competitive, and we’re going to have our work cut out to stay ahead of him in the future!!”

Look for the THR B-Spec Fit at the next round of the Rally America National Championship Series, August 27-29 in Detroit Lake, Minnesota.

New England Forest Rally:
The sixth race on the Rally America National Championship schedule and always a favorite with drivers due to the technical demands of the course, the New England Forest Rally offers challenging logging roads with some of the longest stages on the Rally America National Championship.  This rally is also a crowd pleaser because of its stunning scenery and wildlife.  Quintessential northeastern settings such as winding creeks and one-lane bridges add not only beauty to the race, but also excitement, when encountered by drivers at breakneck speeds.

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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