HPD and Maxxis again joined forces to showcase the 2015 B-Spec Honda Fit at the first round of the 2016 Rally America National Championship, Sno*Drift Rally. The Maxxis/HPD Rally Team had a very successful season in 2015, winning the B-Spec Championship and placing second in the 2WD Championship, showcasing the versatility and the reliability of the Fit-based platform. Striving to defend its B-spec title early at Sno*drift rally, the team would be tested again by a strong entry from Ford with their new turbo Fiesta-based platform. For the 2016 season, HPD/Maxxis has introduced a new driver, Jordan Guitar, Team Honda Research teammate, and fellow Honda Engineer to previous driver James Robinson. “I’m very excited to join the HPD/Maxxis team this year”, stated Jordan, “the Fit is a great platform and I am looking forward to some great competition in the B-Spec class”.
With six stages to contest on Day One of the Sno*Drift Rally, the team set off upon the snow and ice-covered roads. When the team came in for service after the first three stages, the Fit had a small lead of about 50 seconds on the Fiesta. “The road conditions are not too bad right now,” Guitar said. “We are still feeling out the car, but there seems to be a fair amount of grip. As the stages continue to get polished off, we’ll see if we can maintain our momentum.” As the team returned from the last three stages to finish off Day One, the B-Spec fit was able to pull out to a three-minute lead on the Fiesta and was sitting in second in 2WD. “We are very happy with our position right now,” stated Guitar. “The roads were getting pretty bad and lots of cars were off, but the Fit is set up great right now and the Maxxis tires were great, even in the icy conditions.”
The weather prediction for Day Two showed temperatures nearing 40 degrees. This would mean that some of the top snow layer would start to melt. “If the top layer melts, that could expose the dirt underneath. possibly helping with traction,” stated Brian Penza, returning to co-drive for the HPD/Maxxis team. “It could also expose the ice underneath and become very slick.” As the teams returned from Stage 12, the B-Spec Fit had stretched its lead in B-Spec to just under four minutes and was sitting in 2nd in 2WD. “The roads were very slick in places,” noted Guitar at service, “I made a few mistakes that lost us some momentum right before a few of the hills, which set us back a little bit, but the car seems to be handling the roads well.” As the rally continued, the team began to struggle with some of the stage conditions, “Stage 15 was incredibly bumpy and rough,” explained Penza, “but the Fit took it like a champ and made it through in one piece.”
“On [Stage] 16,” said Guitar, “I carried a little bit too much speed into one of the spectator areas and underestimated how slippery it was; we slid through the corner and stuffed the Fit into the snow bank. I thought we were stuck, but after about a minute we were able to dislodge it and carry on.” Sno*drift Rally is a difficult event, with attrition rates being quite high during past years. This year, 42 cars started and 34 finished. At the end of the rally, the HPD/Maxxis team finished first in B-Spec and third in 2WD. “We are very happy with our finishing position,” said a pleased Guitar. “The Fit performed great all weekend; the Maxxis tires were fantastic, and we averaged about 20 miles per gallon on fuel. We’re excited with this great start to the championship and are looking forward to the next round at the Rally in the 100-Acre Wood.”
Look for the THR B-Spec Fit to continue in its hunt for the championship in March, at The Rally in the 100-Acre Wood in Salem, MO. 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