Honda continues to set records with its hot new Civic Type R. Following a thrashing of the famed Nürburgring, and another record-breaking lap at France's Magny-Cours, the Japanese hatchback has now claimed its latest victim: Spa-Francorchamps. The Civic recorded a lap time of 2:53.72 with Super GT driver and LMP2 champion Bertrand Baguette behind the wheel.
At 4.4 miles, Spa-Francorchamps is no Nürburgring, granted, but it's still one of the longest laps of the racing season. The track boasts more than a few high-speed straights, as well as a number of quick corners. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine – tuned to 316 brake horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in this European spec car – was able to "exploit" much of the fast track, says Honda.
"For me as a race car driver, it’s clear that Type R is born for the track," said Bertrand Baguette, who set the record lap. "But it also feels just as right on the streets in everyday driving. When I sit in the car, it is very comfortable and the visibility all round is very good."
As mentioned, this is the third fast-lap Honda has recorded with its Type R in less than a year. Last month, the Civic recorded a lap time of 2:01.51 at Magny-Cours in France, and back in 2017, the sporty hatchback did the same at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, recording a time of 7:43.08. But don’t expect these three to be the only lap times Honda takes down – back in February the company promised that it would continue chasing records. Who knows which track Honda will attempt to take down next.
Gallery: Honda Civic Type R Spa Record
After setting a lap record at the Magny-Cours GP circuit just last month, the high-performance hatchback has set a new lap record front-wheel drive production lap record of 2mins 53.72secs at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The Type R was piloted by former FIA WEC LMP2 class World Champion, Bertrand Baguette, who is currently racing a Honda NSX-GT in the Super GT series with Nakajima Racing.
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one of the longest tracks in the racing seasons of many categories at 7.004km, and features very fast straights and high-speed corners, along with more technical low-speed sections and significant elevation changes. The class-leading acceleration and outright speed of the Civic Type R’s 2.0-litre VTEC TURBO engine, enabled Baguette to exploit the long straights and accelerate quickly out of the sweeping corners.
Aerodynamic performance was also critical to the lap time, and Civic Type R’s finely-honed design, with a smooth underbody, front air curtain, slim rear wing and vortex generators contributed to superior levels of high-speed stability. In the car’s +R mode, the Adaptive Damper System produces a firm and flat ride ideal for track driving, enabling more speed to be carried through Spa-Francorchamps’ famous Eau Rouge and Kemmel Straight sections.
Speaking about the Type R and the way it handles, Bertrand Baguette said: “With a front-wheel drive usually you always expect understeer, but this car is so balanced. Straight away you get a lot of confidence as it gives you a lot of feedback through the steering wheel, especially in +R mode. The chassis is very rigid, the rear is very stable and front is biting really well to give you a lot of front grip. The aero package really helps the car feel planted at high speed, and it’s amazing the level of traction.
“For me as a race car driver, it’s clear that Type R is born for the track, but it also feels just as right on the streets in everyday driving. When I sit in the car, it is very comfortable and the visibility all round is very good.”
Honda set the original benchmark time at Spa-Francorchamps during a similar challenge in 2016, using the previous-generation Civic Type R. It also claimed record lap times at Silverstone, Estoril, and the Hungaroring. The 2018 edition of the challenge will revisit these three tracks through the summer.
Other drivers confirmed for the remaining Type R Challenge 2018 circuit record attempts include former Formula 1 World Champion and current NSX Super GT driver Jenson Button (UK), WTCR driver Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) and BTCC legend Matt Neal (UK).
The new benchmark time for the Spa-Francorchamps circuit is the third lap record to be claimed by the new Honda Civic Type R. In April 2017, a production development car became the fastest front-wheel drive production car ever around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a lap time of 7mins 43.8secs. Last month WTCR driver, Esteban Guerrieri, set a new 2mins 01.51secs lap record for a front-wheel drive production car at the Magny-Cours GP circuit in France, as part of the Type R Challenge.
The new Honda Civic Type R retains the heritage of Honda’s high-performance hatchback bloodline and is the fastest accelerating and quickest car in its class. The latest car to sport the famous ‘red H’ was part of the all-new tenth-generation Civic’s development programme – the largest in Honda’s history – and was engineered to deliver the most rewarding drive in the hot hatch segment, both on road and on the race track. It features a lightweight, highly rigid bodyshell, low centre of gravity, and sophisticated dual-axis strut front suspension system, which reduces torque steer and enhances on-the-limit cornering.