Leo Theo - JSCC Committee member
What's the fuss about Type R's?
Truth be told, the Type R moniker never really did much for me. Not even when one of my childhood friend acquired a Japanese DC2R. Looking at the DC2R, the part I could relate to was the B18C engine conversion her had done to his EG prior to getting the DC2R (Hence you can guess why I drive what I drive now ;-) ). Honda then released the EK9, followed by the DC5 - Ok admittedly, the EK9 stirred a little bit of interest but along came the FN2R and all interest in Type Rs died (Sorry FN2R owners, but you can change my mind if anyone was willing to let me have a go around wakefield..heehee) - It was also around that time, I started hearing about the FD2R and somewhere, in one of the forums, someone had posted a picture. I remembered saying that I'd buy one immediately if Honda Australia brought one in.
History of this car...
So, sometime mid 2008, I got a call from a very close friend, almost a brother - We both had Ducati's before and constantly challenged each other at track days (He was faster than me but only because I was heavier.. :-p). Well,he told me he had put out for the new FD2R. I was jealous as hell and comforted myself with the fact that my Civic was probably quicker
(yeah yeah, don't crap on to me about comfort, air conditioning and powersteering.). From then, till my return to Singapore, he would rub it in my sending me these little SMS, emails, simply with "FD2R". I was ready to kill him. Of course, there was the constant invite to come back and test the car. He would hold out tracking it until I came back and killed his car's track virginity together. He was good to his word and in November, I touched on the shores of Sunny/sweaty Singapore.
The next morning, he came over and we spend a few minutes oggling at the car. It was basically stock except for a Toda Cat Back, and Wed Sport rims. The rims were covered with RE001 (which he had bought on my advice, but on hindsight, it was probably the wrong tyre for the car - to be explained later). The car was in a limited edition silver, not the usual championship white. I always thought I'd like one in CW, and had made my opinion known to my buddy when he told me it was silver, but now I can understand why. While it could be commonly mistaken for just another civic, just looking at it, the car looked so tame, yet there was an air about it with the Red/black recaros, Brembos and the Type R wing.
Jumping in, it was a snug fit into the Recaros, I would've preferred if it sat a little lower,but maybe I'm on the taller side for a Singaporean (heh heh) - however, there would be no issues with me sitting in it with a Helmet on and my usual crunched up position behind the wheel. The steering wheel was surprisingly small! and err..other than the red badge, looked exactly as my Mother's Honda Stream (an MPV type Honda vehicle). And the handbrake, yes, the handbrake, very well placed just inviting you to yank it and do handbrake turns (Must resist! Not my car). Starting the car was a dream. Ignition on, clutch in, press red button - a small chirp and the engine comes to life without a hint of what the K20A can put out. The clutch was light and so was the throttle (The engine just loves to revs and quickly at that, that I kept bouncing off the rev limiter especially in 2nd).
Around the city, the car, I have to admit, was quite bumpy and uncomfortable (I never thought I'd say that). After a while, the seats actually gave me a slight back ache. In contrast, with the Toda/MFactory Civic, despite the very high spring rates, the ride did not feel as hard as the FD2R. Other than that, the car was happy to potter around under 5000rpm. I did feel the gears were pretty short...It felt like it already had a close ratio gear box with 100km/h in 5th being about 4000rpm. Well for shopping duties, it was ok, but thats not the reason you buy a Type R. Arrangements was then made to attend a Track day the next weekend at the Johor Circuit, in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.
The Johor Circuit
Built in 1986, the Johor Circuit is (was) an international classed motor racing venue hosting, in its haydays, 500cc and the likes of Mick Doohan. It lost abit of its appeal when the Sepang International Raceway was built, but for me (and I'm sure to many as well) the circuit holds some fond memories, especially one of me crashing my 1 week old GSXR750 on my first time out there. During the rainy season, you'd know when somebody when off when you see their heads bobbing amongst shoulder high grass. Sometimes, you also get a family of monkeys as spectators watching as speeding vehicles go by.
Comparing the Johor Circuit to any circuit in NSW (sorry, never driven the others), IMO, none of them comes close (yep,not even Eastern Creek). Its got 2 high speed straights and 3 high speed corners (Maybe more, but I'm probably not going fast enough) and a Leguna Seca type downhill chicane. The 3.86km, 12 turn clockwise circuit is definately my favourite of all the circuits I've been on (names 5 - Eastern Creek, wakefield, Oran park, Sepang, Pasir Gudang). This would be the first time I'd ever be driving on this circuit after having only exclusively ridden on it.
Track days in Singapore!
Is very interesting. Organised by the Track operators, its in very much a free for all format. Costing $120 Malaysian for 3 hours. There were no driver's briefing, no scrutineering, nothing, just rock up, pay the fee and off you go. The Manager recognises me from ages gone by (yup, last time I was there was about 4 years ago) and comes up for a chat, ah, familiar faces, very soothing.
There were no rules, no fast groups, no slow groups, and as I learnt, the yellow flags were usually ignored, not for the sake of ignoring it, but for sheer ignorance of the drivers. I guess a good thing is that they do have flag marshals at every point. If some car broke down, it won't be uncommon to see cars parked along the side and people running across the track to help...LOL...its a wonder none of these guys every got runned over (or maybe I just don't know).
Somehow though, there was an unwritten rule about passing safely and letting other's pass. Newbies, slower drivers had their hazards on to warn others. There was slicing and dicing, diving into corners and everyone took it in their stride and drove the best they could. There was order in chaos...LOL...
And the cars, the number and types of cars were a sight for sore eyes. All shorts from fully prepped race civic (Yay! to the usualy WRX and all the way to some family MPV! Nevertheless, the cars all looked good! Clean, and shiny, with racing decals hanging off the sides. The only way to describe it was like attending an Autosalon race meet! LOL. Australia might learn a thing or two (or maybe I've not been attending the right track days here..LOL)
Back to the FD2R
All I can say, its a very easy machine to drive at its limit. The engine is so smooth and sweet. The gear shifts were smooth and accurate. The Brembos hauled up really well. The responsiveness of the steering and the feel. Honda had got this one right. Brake hard and late into the corners and you only get a gentle squirm of the tail end, keep on the gas and all will be right. The biggest letdown was the tyres. The RE001 just didn't have the grip needed to make the most of the gearing and suspensions. I tended to run out of gears because I had to go slower (for lack of grip) and had to take a lower gear for the car to remain in the power band. Had the car have grippier tyres, taking one gear up and a higher corner speed would not be an issue at all.
It was so well balanced, with a slight hint of understeer (probably because of the tyres) and very very mild liftoff oversteer. You could hardly feel it at all. The car took all I gave it and teased me a little more. I wasn't prepared to go all out, not on Street Tyres, an almost unfamiliar circuit and importantly not my car. However, the car gave me such confidence that I was slicing in and out and overtook great many other cars. Most memorable was coming out of the last turn, being nose to tail of a WRX and diving on the inside to take turn 1.
Make no mistake, I was still driving it pretty hard. My poor poor friend, who had never experienced being a passenger in a car on the circuit came out of the car shaking. I didn't manage to get any lap times because he completely forgot how to work a stopwatch while I was driving...LOL...
Unfortunately, I didn't take that many pictures and I didn't take videos either, but attached is the video taken by an acquaintance driving a modified EG6 (with an MFactory Close ratio - whatelse!). As he comes down the start finish straight, I'm the 2nd FD2R (in silver) to pass him. Fortunately, I got held up by a couple of cars which allows you to see the stance of the FD2R from behind, on the track.
As I drove the car back to Singapore later that day, only one thought ran through my mind, I want one.