On a typically rainy British Spring weekend, many discounted the weather forecast as a poor April’s Fool joke; but unfortunately this was not the case. Saturday April 1st saw the sun rise to reveal unexpected levels of moisture, however this did nothing to dampen the spirits and anticipation of the opening round of the 2017 Civic Cup.
Entering its 6th year, the Civic Cup is widely regarded as the entry level motorsport to be involved with, and is quickly becoming akin to the golden days of BTCC. With close action-packed races, a healthy “rubbing is racing” mentality and fierce but friendly competition between drivers, it offers a refreshing counter-culture to the overly sanitised, mega-budget worlds of F1, DTM and the majority of televised motor-racing. Employing a field of Honda Civics of all ages, limited modifications are allowed and many component specifications are controlled by race organisers creating extremely close racing. This fact, combined with the family friendly atmosphere, the rare treat of both paddock and pit lane being open to spectators, and a race calendar that attends circuits in most corners of England, you’d be hard pressed to find a more engaging, entertaining and most of all accessible petrolhead’s day out.
Round 1 saw the drivers once again return to the iconic Oulton Park circuit. Located in Little Budworth, Cheshire, the picturesque surroundings were juxtaposed by the smell of race fuel and the sounds of mechanics busily making last minute adjustments, and drivers apprehensively double checking they had fitted their wet weather tyres. The weather did little to dampen the competitive spirit however, as almost immediately it was clear the drivers were not of the mentality to take it easy. As the first race began and the full field of 30 cars came roaring past, it was apparent that their high revving Honda VTEC engines were being driven to the full extent of their ability. Long trails of spray from the waterlogged circuit followed close behind, adding an extra sense of drama as the glowing red brake lights disappeared around the next corner. With race positions changing lap by lap as the cars faded into the spray, you could quickly see there was a high level of talent on show. As the race progressed more and more drivers began to take chances, braking a little later and taking more inventive lines through the corners. This resulted in some impressive overtaking manoeuvres from some drivers, and some equally crowd pleasing trips across the grass for the over confident few; luckily coming away having only lost a few places. As the track began to dry out, a clear line of grip appeared and the pack started to widen. Once the cars in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd had passed by it became apparent there were some highly entertaining battles happening for other positions too. This resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable spectacle that seemed to finish too soon, leaving you hungry for more. Luckily, the day wasn’t over.
As the time progressed and the other drivers underwent their respective one-make races, the sun broke through the clouds making a welcome appearance, and began to remind everyone in attendance what a Spring weekend is supposed to feel like. Race 2 took place on what seemed like a different day. With the track now unquestionably dry, there was no shortage of grip which led to drivers increasing the pace to almost unbelievable levels. Hawk Tools driver Tim Evans continued his good form from that morning’s race by increasing the pressure applied to his opponents with an almost surgical precision. Each passing lap saw him climb the field showing himself to be a real force to be reckoned with in his ‘fresh for 2017’ Hawk Tools liveried Honda Civic Type R. As the race progressed the drivers settled into a rhythm around the circuit, the new found grip from the dry track enabling them to push their vehicles harder than before. This did not mean the race was without incident however, with the usual thrills and spills of close packed racing ensuing. This resulted in tyres squealing around corners, cars scraping each other’s doors, and one vehicle eventually dragging its front bumper along, seemingly hanging by just a thread, with the driver’s steely determination and sole focus to win evidently clear. Hawk Tools driver Tim Evans commendably managed to face off over half of the field, eventually finishing in 12th position in both races. After the long off-season period, a new car to get to grips with, and challenging weather conditions to endure, the team here at Hawk Tools couldn’t be happier with this result, and wish him the best of luck in the coming season.
With Round 2 at Snetterton on 22nd-23rd April, the same level of adrenaline packed action is almost guaranteed. Be sure not to miss out on one of motorsport’s hidden treasures!
Civic Cup Rd 1 Oulton Park
1st Martin James
2nd Mark Higginson
3rd Daniel Reason
1st Lee Deegan
2nd Mark Grice
3rd James Griffith