Jenson Button And The Honda Civic Type R Prove To Be A Record-Breaking Combination At Bathurst, Australia
The Civic Type R may have been late to the turbocharged hot hatch party but Honda couldn’t risk the reputation of its iconic sporty hatchback with a half-baked offering, and the wait has clearly been worth it. When the first turbocharged Civic Type R arrived in 2015 it quickly established itself as the benchmark in its segment and the current-generation model released in 2017 has raised the performance levels even further. It may be front-wheel-drive and retain a traditional six-speed manual transmission but it has the dynamics to take on just about anything in its class as well as some purpose-built sports cars too.
It is at the wheel of one of these 316hp hot hatches that former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button set a record 2 min 35.207 second lap time for a front-wheel drive production car around the iconic Mount Panorama race circuit at Bathurst, Australia. The Civic Type R was completely standard and equipped with road tires. The record attempt was inspired by the Type R Challenge 2018 program, which saw a team of Honda racing stars break front-wheel drive production car records at a range of legendary European racetracks. Jenson in fact set a record 2:10.19 lap time around the Hungaroring Grand Prix circuit in Hungary last year driving another stock-standard Civic Type R.
This is the first record to have been broken outside of Europe and it was fitting for Jenson Button to have done it as he also holds the unofficial lap record for the Mount Panorama circuit, a spectacular 1:48.8 lap time set in a Formula One car in 2011 as part of an event to promote the Australian Grand Prix. “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,” said Jenson, after returning from his final time-attack run.
He was impressed with the car’s on-track ability, “The Honda Civic Type R really is the perfect car for a time attack challenge like this. And it’s 100 percent a road-legal car that’s straight off the production line, so to do a 2-minute 35-second lap is fantastic. We came here to have fun and see what this amazing car can do around this iconic track and it did very well—it’s definitely an exciting car for enthusiasts.” High praise from a man who knows a thing or two about driving quickly on a racetrack.
Images courtesy of Honda