Japan’s premier motorsport series – Super GT – has a new challenger. Meet the Honda Civic Type R GT500, a Civic like no other.
Japan is a hotbed for modified cars, and those automotive extremes in both performance and styling are reflected in their motorsport too. In fact, the modified street culture that we all know and love was ultimately inspired by the tuning houses’ high-speed antics on the circuit. So, naturally, Japan’s racecars are as wild as anybody’s. But, in case you’re in the dark about what Super GT actually is, allow me to shed some light on the Far East’s (somewhat) hidden gem.
What is Super GT?
Super GT has gone through a few different identities over the years (such as ‘JGTC’ in the ’90s), but whichever title the competition races under, it’s essentially a place for the nation’s top sportscar drivers to compete for the highest circuit honor in the country. Factory-supported teams from Japan’s big three – Toyota, Nissan, and Honda – each enter a handful of cars into the top category (GT500) to battle for supremacy over the span of hundreds of kilometers per event.
Given the endurance nature of the races, two drivers share each car, and some of which are even renowned international stars. For instance, 2009 F1 World Champion, Jenson Button, supported Naoki Yamamoto to win the 2018 Super GT title. Though, given that Yamamoto was actually the quicker of the two over the course of the season, it’s fair to say that Japan’s national driving talents are worthy of star status in their own right.
Anyway, as for the sort of cars that these heroes drive, well – even if you don’t think you know Super GT, you’ll probably have seen some of its classic icons. Take the Group A Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 for example, or, perhaps you might remember that Castrol-liveried widebody Supra from Gran Turismo. Nowadays, the cars are just as cool, if not more so. Although they might share body styles with recognizable street cars, underneath, these silhouette racers come packing the sort of engineering capable of matching a Le Mans prototype. This season, cars based on the Toyota GR Supra, Nissan Z, and Honda NSX are duking it out. However, with the NSX production car set for retirement, Honda needs a new challenger for the 2024 season. That’s where the Civic Type R GT500 comes in…
Honda Civic Type R-GT Specs
As we’ve established, GT500-spec racecars are serious bits of kit. The Honda Civic Type R-GT (to give it its official name) has been developed in-house by HRC. It features a 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged inline 4-cylinder racing engine, which not only sounds amazing but performs exceedingly well too. Of course, given that this car is built for a certain motorsport series, there are many technical rules that it has to stick to. So, while we aren’t aware of the Civic Type R-GT’s exact horsepower output, we can expect it to be around the 600hp-mark. The weight of GT500 cars is it kept down to around 2200lb (1000kg), thanks largely to their strong-but-lightweight carbon monocoque chassis. Plus, unlike the regular Honda Civic Type R FL5, the GT500 racer is RWD. When you add all of that together, you get a machine which can lap Fuji Speedway in less than 90 seconds.
Yasuharu Watanabe, President of the Honda Racing Corportation, is pretty bullish about the new Civic’s ability to hang with Toyota’s Supra and Nissan’s Z GT500 cars too. He says, “…We will aim to win the championship from the first year, so please keep your expectations high for the permeance the Civic Type R-GT will demonstrate in the coming years.”
Rousing stuff. Anyway, for now, enjoy the video above of the Civic Type R-GT’s recent test session at Okayama circuit.