The Civic Cup: Honda heaven here in the UK
With nip and tuck racing and a jam-packed, Civic-only grid, it’s little wonder that the Civic Cup, sponsored by Cox Motor Parts, is winning a reputation as one of the most exciting clubman championships around.
Back in 2011, the Civic Cup’s inaugural season, the average number of cars on the starting grid was just six. Fast-forward to the present day, however, and the championship has transformed. It’s now one of the country’s most vibrant clubman competitions, with an average grid of more than 30 cars and a growing community of fans who watch the racing both trackside and online.
“The size of the grid has grown by quite a lot every year,” says technical director and founder of the championship, Shaun Woods. “When we started out, it was the dream to get 20 cars on the grid and get some decent TV coverage.”
Now in its eighth year, the Civic Cup calendar sees the championship come to some of the most storied circuits in all of motorsport, such as Brands Hatch, Silverstone, and Oulton Park – where the next race will take place on 16thJune. On two of 2018’s seven race weekends, it also proudly shares the billing with the high-profile TCR UK touring car championship – a move that has already helped to boost its reputation and win yet more fans.
Not that the Civic Cup has been a hard sell. “We’ve always had a good online following from people in the States and in Asia,” says Woods. “But now a lot more UK motorsport people are starting to notice it and take it a bit more seriously.” It’s now thought to be the biggest one-make Honda championship in the world.
That’s largely down to quality of the racing. 1600cc models now race alongside 2000cc Civics, but the regulations remain stringent enough to make for some extremely tight racing. Last year, there were nine winners in just 14 races (there are two races on each race weekend) with the destination of the title only being decided at Brands Hatch on the final weekend of the season, when Lee Deegan clinched overall victory.
Things have continued to be close in the 2018 season, too. In the second race of the year at Silverstone, winner Daniel Hobson claimed victory a little more than four seconds ahead of his nearest competitor and the cars from second place to 20th place were separated by a total of just over 17 seconds.
“The lap times that the cars are doing – they’re very credible,” says Woods, who notes that Civics racing on road tyres regularly chalk up quicker lap times than cars running on faster slick tyres in comparable one-make championships for other brands. “That really does show the potential of the Type R, and how good the Civic is as a base car. It really is a good platform to show your driver talent.”
With £10 tickets and a schedule that takes the championship all around the country, fans have plenty of opportunities to get trackside throughout the season. But the Civic Cup is amassing a healthy following online as well. Coverage and commentary of Race 2 at Silverstone was streamed via the Civic Cup Official Facebook page by 58,000 people. Races are also being broadcast on Motorsport TV before being made available to stream online via YouTube.
This year Cox Motor Parts are the main sponsor for the 2018 Civic Cup Championship. “Founded in 2010 with a simple mission to provide genuine Honda parts at great prices, Cox Motor Parts has since grown into a market leading supplier,” said a spokesperson for the Civic Cup. “We’re extremely proud to announce them as our new Title Sponsor for the 2018 Championship season.
“Many of the parts on our Civic Cup race cars are original Honda parts – they are known for their durability, reliability, increased safety and performance. Cox Motor Parts is well known for their commitment to customer service, and we are happy to welcome them on board for 2018.”
Headed up by Dan O’Hare, Cox Motor Parts is responsible for posting genuine Honda parts all over the world – oil filters, turbos, you name it.
After strong performances in the early races of this season, Mark Grice, Daniel Hobson and Jason Ballantyne – who all drive EP3 Type Rs – will be among the drivers hoping to still be in the running for the title at the climax of the 2018 championship, which will take place at Donington on 14thOctober.
But competition for places is keenly contested all the way through the pack, as driver Adam Kruger has found out in what is only his second season of proper racing.
Until his debut season in the Civic Cup last year, the closest Kruger had come to the real deal was taking part in a few track days. “But it’s not the same as racing and competing with 30 other guys,” he says. “This is where I get the buzz. But when you first start racing, there’s a massive learning curve.”
The routine of race day takes some getting used to, says Kruger. As does judging the way that other drivers will react in the cut-and-thrust of close-quarters racing. “When you take part in a track day, it’s not close combat. Everyone gives each other space, but there’s really not much space when you’re racing. You’re all fighting for the same bit of tarmac."
But that’s all part of the attraction. “Close racing makes it better to watch and better to drive in,” adds Kruger.
The first car Kruger ever owned was a Civic, but he says it was his love of his current Civic – “the way it drives, the VTEC engine” – that made him think that racing in one could be fun.
His next step was to speak with Shaun Woods, technical director and founder of the Civic Cup, and ask around the Civic Cup paddock to see if anyone had a car for sale. With race cars available for around £7,000, it is a relatively accessible championship. What’s more, says Kruger, the support of sponsors Cox Motor Parts has been invaluable. “They’ve supplied discounted parts and helped to raise the profile of the championship – both things have been a really big boost.”
“Having said that, Civics have a real cult following in their own right,” he says, including himself among the cars’ fans. “I was lucky enough to drive the whole Type R range at Carfest – right from the first EK9 to the DC2 and EP3.” Through his day job at an automotive events company, Kruger also grabbed the opportunity to drive the brand new Type R up the hill at Goodwood. “That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
And he even got to do the same with the NSX. “Actually racing one of those would be a dream,” he says. And, who knows, if he acquits himself well in the Civic Cup, maybe he’ll get the chance.