HPD Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

HPD and Maxxis Win B-Spec at 2016 Oregon Trail Rally

Portland, OR. (Apr 22-24, 2016) – Maxxis and Honda Performance Development continued to showcase their 2015 Fit prepared for the B-spec class at the Oregon Trail Rally, the third round of the 2016 Rally America National Championship.

The Maxxis/HPD Rally team has had a great start to the 2016 season, earning a pair of B-spec wins and third-place finishes on the 2WD (two-wheel drive) podium. For the third round of competition, the goal was to keep up the momentum with another win, while continuing to be competitive in the 2WD field.

“We’re very happy with our start this season,” stated Jordan Guitar, Honda engineer and driver of the Maxxis/HPD Fit, “The car has continued to perform excellently coming off of last season, and we’re confident that it will hold up great on these Oregon stages. We will definitely have to work hard to keep up with our two-wheel drive competitors on these fast stages!”

The Oregon Trail Rally historically has many very fast stage roads, where high horsepower can add a considerable advantage. The 2WD field included several very quick cars with veteran drivers and the B-spec field would match the HPD/Maxxis Fit with the returning Ford Fiesta team of Keanna Erickson-Chang and Ole Holter.

As the Maxxis/HPD team began Day 1, the debate would concern which tires to run. A heavy rain during the early hours of the day had soaked most of the area. However, as the day progressed and the sun came out, the course at Portland International Raceway began to dry out. “After running the parade lap, we decided to run the tarmac tire,” stated Brian Penza, returning co-driver for the Maxxis/HPD Team. “Most of the course was dry and a lot of it is tarmac.”

After the stages, the Fit would stand first in B-spec class, but more important to the team would be that it had finished in good shape, with minimal prep to do before attacking the faster stages in Goldendale. “The stages tonight were a ton of fun, and the Maxxis tarmac tires had a ton of grip,” stated Jordan. “Tomorrow, we’ll start the faster stage roads, so we’ll need to keep up the pace!”

As Day 2 began, the team immediately experienced some issues with its communications system. It was fortunate that a short service was scheduled following the first stage. “It looks like the cable for my helmet was damaged,” stated Jordan before returning to the course, “Brian quickly developed a make-shift set of hand signals to communicate the upcoming road conditions and keep us moving, but luckily, we had a spare unit.”

By the end of Day 2, the Fit was sitting fifth in 2WD and had a seven-minute lead over the second-place B-spec Fiesta. “The Fit performed great today, and we had a great time on the new tarmac stages, but it was very challenging keeping up with the rest of the two-wheel drive field,” Jordan stated at the finish. “We were doing what we could to stay with them, but they are really moving fast. Heading into tomorrow, we are really going to have to push to keep up!”

Day 3 began with the teams moving to the stages near Dufur, known for being fast and open. “Today we are going to try and maintain our B-spec lead, but we also want to minimize damage to the car,” stated Penza. “Some of the roads today are a bit rough, and we really want to make it to the finish.”

By the end of Stage 15, the B-Spec Honda Fit had managed to maintain its lead over the B-Spec Fiesta, but the cars were running very close in stage times. “After recovering from some technical issues, the Fiesta is really starting to run quickly,” stated Jordan at the service. “We’re really going to have to pick up the pace. Good thing these Maxxis tires have a ton of grip!”

As the team finished the event, the Fit had managed to maintain its lead over the Fiesta, while finishing fifth in the 2WD field. “The B-spec Fiesta was really coming on strong during the last few stages,” Jordan noted after the finish, “but we were able to maintain our lead, keep it clean, and finish strong. With both cars so close in performance, it is definitely going to be an exciting and challenging rest of the season! I want to give a huge thanks to HPD, Maxxis, and our amazing crew for all of the great support this weekend.”

Look for the B-Spec Honda Fit at the fourth round in the Rally America National Championship next month at Olympus Rally.

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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