Honda customers make 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut in Belgium
Honda customers are looking to challenge for class victory on their first appearance in this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge at the Belgium Ypres Rally this weekend. Last year, the Honda Civic Type R R3 was in contention for the IRC 2WD Cup right up until the final round and this year the Hondas are also aiming to figure prominently amongst the action.

Developed by JAS Motorsport and with its Mugen-tuned engine, the Honda Civic Type R R3 has proved itself capable in the past of defeating much more powerful rivals in the IRC and has even claimed a top-five overall finish. The rapid asphalt roads of the area around Ypres should play to the strengths of the car, which led its class on the Belgium Ypres Rally last year before retiring as the result of an accident.

Four examples of the Honda Civic will compete on the Belgium Ypres Rally, including the distinctive Type R R3 of Piepers Rallysport.

The Dutch team, crewed by Marcel Piepers and co-driver Erik de Wild, will be among the front-runners in the two-wheel-drive class of the event and can't wait to get into the thick of the action around Flanders.

"We did this event only once before, last year, and from the moment we got into the first stage we knew that Ypres was a really special rally," said Piepers, who is planning to contest three IRC events this year with his Civic Type R R3. "Our car is strong and we are pleased with the progress we are making with it. However the opposition is strong so we are sure to have an exciting battle on our hands."

"To see such enthusiasm amongst our customers is our greatest satisfaction" says William De Braekeleer, Motorsport Manager at Honda Motor Europe Ltd. "It's great to see how passionate they are about our brand and therefore we are delighted to offer them this extra logistic and technical support at the event"

JAS Motorsport, Honda's long term partner in racing, will support its customers by making available spare parts and engineering advice in Ypres. JAS will also provide similar support for Civic Type R customers in a selection of other IRC rallies this year.

The Piepers Type R is one of four Civics on the 73-strong starting list, joined by the all-Hungarian team of Vizin Laszlo and Zsiros Gabor, together with the Dutch showroom-class entry of Martijn Braat and Jac Gillis and the French drivers Jean-Marc Poisson and Olivier Lesigne. The rally is based in the market square of the medieval city of Ypres; with Eurosport covering four stages of the event live on Eurosport and Eurosport 2. The action gets underway on Friday evening with six special stages before concluding on Saturday after 10 more stages. The total competitive distance will be 284,76 kilometres.

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