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Rally Honda Hybrid Impresses on Debut

The new Honda Civic Hybrid rally car made its competitive debut at the recent Glyn Memorial Stage Rally held at the revised Anglesey Circuit complex in North Wales. The petrol electric Civic, the latest Honda Hybrid rally car built by the Lancashire based Oaktec Team, produced an excellent performance in this gruelling two day rally which covered 14 special stages in atrocious weather conditions.

Competing against a field of 88 cars of all classes the Oaktec crew were delighted to bring the production class 1339cc hybrid home in 48th place overall and 6th from 13 cars in the modified 1400cc class, once again proving the competitive potential of the environmentally responsible Honda IMA technology.

The Oaktec Honda Hybrids are unique in the world of motorsport in that they retain the production cars class leading ultra low exhaust emissions, whilst gaining a performance advantage by tuning the output of the electric motor in the hybrid drive. The cars are also unusual in that they retain the Honda CVT transmission, which makes them easier to drive in a competition environment.

The Oaktec team are supported by the UK Government’s Energy Efficient Motorsport initiative EEMS, which aims to promote a sustainable future for the UK motorsport industry by addressing the environmental issues of carbon and other toxic emissions and fuel energy wastage. The Oaktec Honda hybrid project has tackled these issues with great success. In 2006 the team claimed a Championship class win with their one litre Insight Hybrid in the Formula 1000 stage rally series and scoring a series of class victories. What made this remarkable was the capability of the car to return over 70mpg in normal use with a CO2 output of just 85g/km. The bigger and heavier Civic returns over 50mpg in normal use whilst competing with its low emissions systems intact.

Oaktec co-driver and project partner Bill Meeson commented, “we are delighted at the performance of the new car on its first event. Even though we are at a very early stage of development the car ran quickly and faultlessly throughout a very tough event. It felt very stable in both slow and fast corners and had remarkable agility for what is quite a large car. I am sure we can unlock even more speed from the car over the coming months but we will concentrate on areas that don’t spoil the low emissions and high fuel efficiency of the standard car.”

The team were very pleased at the level of interest generated from both spectators and fellow competitors. The car will be on display on the ‘Future of Motorsport’ stand at the London Motorsport Show at Excel on 8th/9th December.