The EG Civic gets a bad rap from some because of its affiliation with the Fast and the Furious franchise. Whatever. Ditch the neon lights and put on a set of sticky tires, and the little lima bean-shaped machine is a complete weapon, especially on the off-camber maze that is Mt. Panorama. The famous Bathurst circuit has seen all sorts of incredible fireworks over the years, but most often in big-budget GT racers and V8 Supercars. This time, a Civic sporting a modified B20 engine puts some big-bore racers to shame.
Aussie hotshot Jordan Cox has designed his little Civic to participate in the Improved Production Class to run with Celicas, M3s, Commodores, and other racecars which almost double the 260-horsepower output of the B20 motor. Yet somehow, Cox and his Civic show most of the others the ropes. How is this done? Clever tire management and a delicate touch.
Jordan Cox may be young, but he drives like a man with lots of experience in the seat. Not only does his show in his smooth inputs, relaxed means of shifting gear, and casual countersteering, but also in his track position. Jordan uses as much road as necessary, but no more, and is particularly cautious in how he rides the curbs.
As mentioned earlier this month, the curbs allow which line the crucial corners on a racetrack can be used to go more quickly, but the driver runs a risk when attacking them. Particularly with a short wheelbase car like this little Civic, the curbs can upset the progress of the car. When the walls are as close as they are at Mt. Panorama, a big slide could result in a massive crash. Thankfully, Jordan has some pretty coordinated hands.
At 1:42, a mild rub of the curb on corner entry, with a bit of undulation thrown in, gets that Civic rotating and rotating fast. However, Jordan’s used to this sort of twitchy behavior from his Honda, and keeps his foot flat to the floor as he rides it down the hill. A few seconds later, even when riding the curb without much steering taking place, the rear end still breaks away. It takes some care to manage, but the upside is that a fidgety car offers its driver a number of options when it comes to turning into the corner in a more traditional fashion.
He uses that behavior to turn in cleanly most of the time. In fact, Jordan’s driving style is fairly textbook. It doesn’t rely on big flicks, wheelspin, or anything unorthodox most of the time. Generally, he is very patient with his throttle and understands just how to get the car slowed and turned in without much fuss. He uses the short wheelbase to his advantage and sometimes lifts to trim his line, but most of the time, he has the car set up perfectly on entry.
After releasing the brakes, he coordinates the steering input perfectly; dialing in lock smoothly with a little weight still on the front to minimize understeer, so that his steering inputs aren’t added past the apex. Then, he’s able to get on the throttle, and use lots of the exit curb if the car does run wide. He has to be careful though, and while the approach looks simple and almost easy, it’s very difficult to make a FWD car corner that precisely lap after lap. Perhaps it’s that metronome-like quality, combined with a bit of rally driver flair, that should get this kid a professional contract in the near future.