Honda Civic Type R sets Bathurst lap record with Jenson Button

There wasn’t a record to break, but Honda has set a benchmark for other manufacturers to challenge

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FORMULA 1 world champion Jenson Button has driven a Honda Civic Type R to a new benchmark time at Mount Panorama during a secret test day over the Easter long weekend.

With a time of 2:35.2017, Button and Honda have set a yardstick for all other hot hatch manufacturers to measure themselves against. However, calling it a record breaking lap would be inaccurate, as no front-drive production car has officially attempted a record before.

Button was flown to Australia in secrecy, and given a single task – to pedal the Civic Type R as fast as possible around the country’s most prestigious circuit. The 6.213-kilometre Mount Panorama circuit uses public roads, includes 23 corners and rises 174-metres with gradients as steep as 16 percent.

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The Type R used for the lap was identical to what can be bought in showrooms around Australia for $51,990. Honda says the car was in completely stock trim – including the Continental SportContact 6 tyres.

Honda’s hot hatch hero is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that sends 228kW and 400Nm to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. The official kerb weight is 1393kg.

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Putting the stock Type R’s time into perspective, it would have been good enough to qualify second in class for this year’s Bathurst 6 Hour, held the day prior to the record attempt.

Button completed just 14 laps of the circuit, spread across a one hour session in the morning, and a 10 minute session in the afternoon.

“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,” the 2009 Formula 1 champion said.

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“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 official outright production car record at Mount Panorama is a 2:16.5, set by Bernd Schneider in a Mercedes-AMG GT R in 2017.

Fittingly, Button also holds the unofficial outright quickest lap of Mount Panorama, setting a 1:48.8 time in a 2008-spec McLaren MP4-23 wearing 2011-spec Pirelli tyres during a sponsor event.

Brabham’s BT62 cut an unofficial 1:58.69 during demonstration laps at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, making it the quickest tin-top to lap the circuit, while Christopher Mies holds the outright official record at 1:59.291 set in a derestricted Audi R8 GT3 during the Challenge Bathurst event last year.

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The Group 3E Series Production car record (ostensibly the racing production car category) of 2:25.802 was set by Chaz Mostert during the Bathurst 6 Hour in 2017 with a Ford Focus RS.

Button’s mission was part of Honda Australia’s year-long 50th birthday bash, and is the first leg of the Type R Challenge set outside Europe.

The Type R Challenge has seen the Japanese hot hatch flown to some of the world’s finest tracks to have a lash at various records. It has had five previous legs, with Button also setting a front-drive production car record at the Hungaroring grand prix circuit with a time of 2:10.19.

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Our sister magazine Motor awarded the Civic Type R its coveted Performance Car of the Year title in 2018. During testing, with Supercars driver David Reynolds at the wheel, the hot hatch set a new benchmark time at Winton, “comfortably burying previous efforts in any production front-drive car”.

While Honda has laid down the gauntlet, it’s time for other manufacturer’s to step up to the plate. Your move, Hyundai.

 

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