Racing is part of the DNA of well-known automobile manufacturers. Honda, for example, has already celebrated great successes on many motorsport stages. Unforgotten is the world championship title with the English McLaren team in Formula 1. Now the Japanese have written the next chapter. And that on what is probably the most demanding race track in the world. Honda is back in the Green Hell.
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For the first time in ten years, the brand is back at the start of the 24-hour race on the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Honda Germany sends a Civic Type R TCR on the long journey. We were able to look behind the scenes at the Honda comeback in the Eifel and experienced the unique atmosphere of this classic up close for 24 hours.
How did the return come about? “In the past few years, we’ve been asked again and again whether we don’t want to start in the 24-hour race. Now is the perfect time to drive the new Civic Type R on the Nordschleife,” says Klaus Kniedel, team leader and responsible for the Motorsport department at Honda in Germany, in an interview.
A lot of action is offered
The man knows what he’s talking about. It quickly becomes clear: Klaus Kniedel lives for motorsport and the Honda brand. He tells us that Honda has been working towards this race for a whole year. “The Nordschleife is one of the greatest challenges for any vehicle. And of course the ultimate for the fans,” says Klaus Kniedel.
Around 200,000 spectators made the pilgrimage to the Nordschleife. And the weather gods are also kind this time: no hail, no rain, no thunderstorms. Instead, bright sunshine and pleasant temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius. Racing is really fun there, especially at night when the party starts. A lot of action is offered. Everyone who is there will not soon forget the PS spectacle.
Tiago Monteiro will also drive the Honda Civic Type R TCR
Honda has come up with some ideas for the return. Around 200 invited guests can cheer on the racetrack around the clock in the lounge. Drivers and those responsible stop by and answer questions. Half of the guests are participants in a competition. In addition, racing fans had posted photos of their own Honda with some memories on Facebook. A jury then selected the best photos and rewarded the winners with a seat in the lounge. And there the winning pictures hang on the wall and are even signed by the Honda riders and team members – a really smart idea.
The most prominent driver of the Honda Civic Type R TCR at the Eifel classic is Tiago Monteiro. The Portuguese once made a name for himself in Formula 1. In addition to him, Markus Oestreich, Dominik Fugel, and Cedrik Totz will be in action for the Honda ADAC Sachsen team in the 24-hour race.
The Civic Type R TCR has already proven its great potential
“I am delighted to be taking part in this legendary 24-hour race for the first time. The Nürburgring is one of the most demanding circuits of all, and I would like to thank Honda Germany for the opportunity to be part of this motorsport highlight,” says Tiago Monteiro. The Honda factory driver from the current World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season, which he is contesting for the KCMG team, is very familiar with the Civic Type R TCR.
The Civic Type R TCR has a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine under the hood that produces 350 hp. For comparison: the series counterpart only has 30 hp less available. A few records show that this vehicle has great potential: As part of the “Type R Challenge 2018”, the Japanese car manufacturer set lap records for production vehicles with front-wheel drive on five different European racetracks. One of the drivers was the former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button.
Happy ending for Honda
With what objective does Honda return to the Green Hell? “First of all we want to finish the race, that’s very clear. And then of course we would like to win the class,” says Klaus Kniedel. And as befits such a comeback, both wishes come true in the end. The Honda Civic Type R sees the checkered flag after an exciting 24 hours and celebrates victory in the TCR category.
With this happy ending, one can only say with regard to the 2020 24-hour race: Sayonara Honda, goodbye Honda.