Honda has made history at the Mount Panorama, Bathurst race track by setting a benchmark lap time for a front-wheel drive production car. The man behind the wheels was Former Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, who piloted the FK8 Honda Civic Type-R to stamp it as the fastest front-wheel drive car in production.
It was a completely stock factory-spec Civic Type R running on road tires with no modifications whatsoever. Jenson Button’s time of 2:35.207sec was posted as part of the Australian leg of the ‘Type R Challenge 2019’ designed to highlight the performance potential of the FK8 Civic Type R hot hatch.
Button, who holds the unofficial Mt Panorama record at just 1:48.8, set in an F1 car in 2011 as part of a special event to promote the Australian GP, recorded the time within just 14 fast laps spread over a one-hour session in the morning and a 10-minute afternoon session.
The Brit has never raced at the track, though. Jenson Button after returning from his final time-attack run said:
“Anything you drive around Mount Panorama is pretty amazing. Up across the top of the mountain, the Type R is so fast through there, so once I got into a rhythm and got used to the speed you can carry, it was really good fun. I definitely put the car through its paces and it was a quick time, 2 minutes 35 seconds is a really good time in a front-wheel drive car and it was hot as well, so I think if it was cooler you could go a bit quicker, but I do feel like I got everything out of the car. The Honda Civic Type R really is the perfect car for a time attack challenge like this. And it’s 100% a road legal car that’s straight off the production line, so to do a 2 minute 35 second lap is fantastic.”
Honda’s Bathurst time attack was inspired by the ‘Type R Challenge 2018’ program, which saw a team of Honda racing stars break front-drive production car records at a range of European racetracks last year in the new Civic Type R.
Mount Panorama is best known as the home of the Bathurst 1000 motor race, held annually in October. It’s technically a street circuit (it’s a public road for 350 days a year when no racing events are held) that’s incredibly challenging for both man and machine, and the current layout is 6.213 km in length with 23 corners and a 174-metre vertical difference between its lowest and highest points, not to mention gradients as steep as 1:6 or more than 16%.