Honda Civic Type R blitzes five iconic European circuits

Honda sets front-wheel-drive records in the hot hatch's homeland.

Hungaroring / Image Credit: Honda
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European automakers habitually produce some of the best hot hatches. So it took the revival of a Japanese legend to beat them on their home turf when the Honda Civic Type R stole the front-drive lap record at the Nürburgring away from the likes of Renault and Seat. Volkswagen struck back and reclaimed the prize for Europe with the new Golf GTI Clubsport S, but rather than return to the Green Hell for another attempt, Honda took revenge on five other Grand Prix circuits across the continent.

The campaign started in April at Silverstone, where three-time British Touring Car champ Matt Neal set a lap time of 2:44.45 in the wet, then returned once it was dry to beat his own time at 2:31.85. With the front-drive record at the home of the British Grand Prix now in hand, Honda moved on to Belgium, where factory driver Rob Huff tackled Spa-Francorchamps and its infamous Eau Rouge complex to set another lap record at 2:56.91. Then it was off to Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, where the Civic Type R – still mechanically unmodified and on road tires – set another record at 2:15.16 at the hands of World Touring Car Championship driver Norbert Michelisz.

Former F1 driver Tiago Monteiro was supposed to tackle the Estoril next, until he was taken out of commission in a WTCC crash. So on short notice, the series' safety-car driver Bruno Correia stepped in and lapped the former home of the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2:04.08. The last record fell at the Hungaroring where Michelisz returned to the cockpit and set another front-drive lap record at 2:10.85 last week.
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Honda Civic Type R sets new benchmarks at five legendary European race circuits

- Honda announces new benchmark times set by Civic Type R at five legendary European circuits
- Lap times achieved in standard production car with no mechanical modifications
- Benchmarks set at Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, Estoril and Hungaroring
- Stars of Honda's WTCC and BTCC squad pilot Type R throughout five circuit campaign

Honda's 'race car for the road' Civic Type R has crisscrossed Europe in an effort to set new benchmarks for front wheel drive production cars at five legendary circuits across Europe.

Inspired by the Civic Type R which smashed the front wheel drive lap time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in May 2014, the Honda team developed this European challenge to assert Type R as the leading front wheel drive performance hatchback.

The campaign started on a rain soaked day in April at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix. Three-time British Touring Car Championship winner Matt Neal took the wheel to set a time of 2 minutes 44.45 seconds. Not content with this time, Matt and the team returned to the circuit later in the month to set a dry lap time of 2 minutes 31.85 seconds.

In early May, attention shifted to the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The track, beloved by racers of all nationalities and featuring the famous Eau Rouge section, was taken on by Honda Racing new boy Rob Huff. Huff set a blistering time of 2 minutes 56.91 seconds.

With two attempts successfully completed, Italy's historic Monza circuit was the next target. Another member of Honda's WTCC squad, Hungary's Norbert Michelisz, took the wheel and piloted the car around the famous Parabolica to return a time of 2 minutes 15.16 seconds.

Momentum was building towards the final session at the Hungaroring, but first a trip to historic Estoril with Tiago Monteiro taking the reins on home turf. However, a nasty crash at the WTCC Race of Germany put the Honda ace out of action. Fellow Portuguese racer and WTCC safety car driver Bruno Correia was drafted in at 24 hours notice. With just one day in the car, Bruno posted a time of 2 minutes 4.08 seconds.

Finally, the team arrived at the last session in Hungary on 6th June. The perfect driver for this mission was once again Norbert Michelisz, following his race win here in 2015 while racing a WTCC Civic Type R for independents Zengõ Motorsport. Over two days, Norbert pushed his production Type R to the limit to set a benchmark of 2 minutes 10.85 seconds and wrap up the five circuit effort.

Philip Ross, Senior Vice President of Honda Motor Europe, commented, "This challenge secures Civic Type R's position as the benchmark in the front wheel drive performance segment. With the support of our touring car stars, it is a fitting testament to the team who engineered and designed it as the ultimate race car for the road."

Honda Civic Type R

At its launch a year ago, the Honda Civic Type R represented the start of a new performance era for Honda; drawing on the brand's racing DNA to deliver the pinnacle of the Civic line-up.

A crucial part of a wave of next-generation vehicles from Honda – which will continue this summer with the launch of the all-new NSX – the Type R is a fundamental demonstration of the brand's pioneering approach to technological innovation.

The Civic Type R boasts a world-first application of Honda's new 2.0-litre VTEC TURBO engine, aggressive function-led styling, and pioneering new chassis technologies. Together, these features deliver one of the most immersive and rewarding driving experiences in any sector.

Civic Type R benchmark times



Lap time


4 April 2016

Silverstone (Grand Prix Circuit), UK


Matt Neal (GBR)

26 April 2016

Silverstone (Grand Prix Circuit), UK

2'31.85 (dry)

Matt Neal (GBR)

10 May 2016

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium


Rob Huff

23 May 2016

Autodromo Nazionale Monza (Grand Prix Circuit), Italy


Norbert Michelisz

31 May 2016

Autódromo do Estoril, Portugal


Bruno Correia (POR)

6 June 2016

Hungaroring, Hungary


Norbert Michelisz

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