The Honda Civic Type R and JAS Motorsport will face entirely new territory next weekend when they head for the Rally Russia: round four of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and the first true international motor sport event to be held in Russia since the 1914 St Petersburg Grand Prix!
The fast and flowing gravel roads are expected to be similar to those of the world-famous Rally Finland, as Rally Russia's host town of Vyborg is close to the Finnish border. This means that Honda drivers Dani Sola and Luca Betti can expect flat-out stages with some big jumps, which require real commitment. At these high speeds, accurate pace notes will be vital in order to place the car perfectly on the road.
Coming straight after the all-asphalt Ypres Rally in Belgium three weeks ago where the Civic Type R showed a rapid turn of speed. Russia is yet another step into the unknown for the all-new car. The JAS Motorsport-run Honda made its IRC debut on gravel at the Rally of Turkey two months ago, and the team will be hoping to use the lessons learned there to further develop their challenger in Russia.
The Civic Type R has been developed with the new R3 class in mind, for production-based two-wheel drive cars with a 2.0 litre engine. This inexpensive yet competitive class has been designed as a blueprint for rallying's future by the sport's governing body, the FIA - but for the moment the Honda runs within the A7 category.
Apart from the fast roads, nobody knows quite what to expect from Russia. As it is an all-new event, everybody starts at the same level and it will be hard to predict the weather conditions. Nonetheless, the event conditions would appear to suit the Civic Type R's high-revving V-Tec engine and its talented duo of drivers.
Former World Championship driver Dani Sola commented: "It will be very interesting to see what this rally is like. Some people say it is like Finland, but I think there will also be places where the roads are more narrow and softer - particularly on the stages that are repeated. For us, the absolute priority is to finish the event and win the two-wheel drive category. We have shown a lot of good potential through our stage times this year, and now we need consistent results to match them. Everything is improving all the time though: we have done a lot of work with dampers and hydraulics and I am keen to see how this translates into performance on the stages."
William De Braekeleer, Honda's head of motorsport added: "Rally Russia will certainly be a big challenge for us, as it sure to be for everybody. We are on the right track in terms of development: now we have to keep concentrated and maximize every opportunity to improve the car, which has shown promising pace so far."
News source: motorsport.com
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