Honda’s new Civic Type R is an aggressive looking machine. Its jutting splitter, bulging arches and angular rear wing all signal its on-track intent and having lapped the Nordschleife in 7min 50.63sec, a production hot-hatch record, it has the pace to back its shouty appearance. For reference, José María López qualified on pole for the WTCC round at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 8min 37.32sec. The closest Honda was a further 3sec down the road.
Admittedly, the WTCC boys combine the Nordschleife with the GP circuit. As such, to draw any meaningful comparison you have to subtract 1min 45sec from their times. Even so, the road legal Honda would not be too far behind its race bred cousin – a remarkable achievement.
Continuing the theme of lap time comparisons, Rickard Rydell took pole at Donington in 1998, driving a Super Touring Volvo S40 in 1min 10.17sec. Earlier this year, Colin Turkington went fastest in his Volkswagen with a 1min 09.48sec. That’s 17 years separated by under seven tenths of a second. The parity demonstrates the seriousness with which manufactures treated the BTCC’s Super Touring era. Nissan, Ford and Honda all poured massive budgets into the series hoping to ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’.
Glance through the photos of this week’s classified spotlight and you can begin to understand where the money was spent – there’s carbon fibre everywhere. This car was built by Foss-Tech as a factory entrant for the ’99 BTCC season and run by West Surrey Racing under the Team Honda Sport banner. With Peter Kox in the seat, chassis #FTEI 9901 won round 16 at Snetterton, followed home by David Leslie and Yvan Muller. Honda finished second in the team standings that year with Kox seventh in the drivers’ rankings and team-mate James Thompson fourth.
Should you attempt to enter FTEI 9901 at the BTCC’s next round at Snetterton, you would promptly be shown the door. However, arrive at Silverstone on the July 24 for the Super Touring Car Championship and you might walk away on Sunday evening with a travel bag clinking with silverware. Administered by the Historic Sports Car Club, the STCC is open to pre-2000 touring cars, from various eras and classes. Even pre-93 DTM cars are eligible, but it is the Super Touring entrants that set the pace. In fact, this very car took pole at Thruxton last year while its sister car from ’99 won the overall series. Honda Accords are leading the way in ’15 too.
The closing laps of Peter Kox’s win in this very car at Snetterton, 1999
FTEI 9901 has undergone extensive restorative fettling prior to its current sale. Wheel bearings, springs and Rose joints have all been brought up to race readiness and a new steering rack has been bolted in place. The sequential Xtrac gearbox has also been refreshed – every pull of the stubby lever releasing a fresh surge from the high-revving Japanese power plant. Although Japanese by name, the engines fitted to Super Touring Accords were produced by Neil Brown Engineering, a British company based in Lincolnshire. The 2-litre, naturally-aspirated units produce 325bhp and zing all the way to 8500rpm.
The car would make a marvellous track day warrior but with such a striking livery it definitely belongs at the sharp end of a grid. Let’s hope it makes a quick return to the STCC.