One look at J.A.S. Motorsports' race-winning resume and its easy to see why Honda chose to partner with the ultra-successful Italian race firm. Active in competitive motorsports since 1996, it was in 2012 when the partnership began and the Civic Type R FN2, serving as the first subject of the collaboration, competed in the World Touring Car Championship.
Looking back, the FN2 seems mild in comparison to the magic that J.A.S. performed on their FK2 Type R model in 2015. The group designed a widebody kit and wing combo that breathed new life into a chassis that seemed to have the right power plant but fell short in the eyes of many in the appearance department. But good looks aside, the aggressive offering, along with a slew of suspension and performance upgrades as well as required safety equipment, produced a winner. In the TCR International Series' first season, the build earned a number of victories, and in the touring car championship's sophomore year the FK2 brought home 5 championships. More recently the results were even more astounding, with 12 championship titles won in 2017 along with 5 teams' crowns and, last but not least, 7 drivers' crowns.
With a stellar record thus far, it was only fitting that Honda reach back out to J.A.S. to put their touch on the FK8 Type R's global platform for 2018. And at Geneva this year, the new Type R TCR was on display and looked to be even more aggressive than previous offerings. We saw glimpses of the new model in January as it debuted at 24 Hours of Dubai, but this was our first look at it in the flesh and not blazing down the track.
Much like the FK2, a bespoke widebody kit was created for the new Type R and includes an integrated front splitter, extended front fenders that connect directly to the sculpted sideskirts that help bring the car's body down considerably, while out back a hatch mounted wing juts out beyond the rear bumper. The additional girth provided by the larger front and rear fenders allow for 18x10-inch O.Z. Racing wheels—1.5 inches wider than the previous TCR model. The increase in wheel size and overall body dimension doesn't come at the expense of increased weight, and in fact the FK8 TCR checks in at about 2,788 lbs.—over 50 lbs. lighter than last year's CTR.
All out power modifications are minimal, while reliability and longevity are key, but there are changes on board, like the 3-inch exhaust system and Motec M142 engine management system that help bring power output up to the 340-horsepower range.
Will J.A.S. see the same level of success they had with their last CTR endeavor? Time will tell, but based on their track record (pun intended) and their ability to build an outstanding R-based platform, it's a safe bet these cars will end up in the winner's circle throughout 2018.