Full House for Honda on Rally of Scotland
On the all-gravel Rally of Scotland, the final round of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge, Honda has claimed first in the two-wheel drive category, first in class A7 and second in class N3.

By finishing an excellent sixth overall, Estonian driver Kaspar Koitla has also claimed Honda's best IRC result of the year, and the best-ever finish in the series for Honda on gravel.

As a result of these strong finishes, Honda has passed Abarth to claim the runner-up spot in the IRC 2WD Cup despite not contesting all the events this year. Koitla has also secured third place in the two-wheel drive IRC final drivers' classification.

No fewer than six Hondas started the event, which came to an end on Saturday afternoon outside Stirling Castle, north of Edinburgh. Conditions throughout all three days of the rally were atrocious, with heavy rain making the gravel stages very muddy and slippery.

Nonetheless, for the majority of the event there were two Hondas fighting for a place in the overall top eight. Koitla and his fellow Estonian Martin Kangur were extremely quick from the very start, trading places in the cold and damp weather. Their battle came to an end on Saturday's SS10, when Kangur was forced to retire as a result of a power steering problem.

This allowed Koitla to concentrate on securing another overall points-scoring finish, just as he did on the Rally Russia earlier this year. Despite never having competed in the United Kingdom before, the young Estonian had no problems en route to the finish.

"I really enjoyed the experience and our Honda performed faultlessly," said Kasper Koitla. "It was a great battle with Martin, but very difficult driving conditions. The amount of mud was unbelievable: it was impossible to know where to find any grip. This was definitely one of the best and most challenging rallies I have ever driven."

In 14th place overall and second in class N3 was local driver Colin Smith, making his debut in a Civic. "It was really good to drive on home territory in such a competitive car," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed myself from start to finish and I hope we put on a nice show for all the spectators."

Smith led home a trio of Honda Civic Type Rs, with Hungarian drivers Janos Puskadi and Laszlo Vizin finishing 15th and 16th respectively.

Unfortunately Ferenc Levai, also from Hungary, was not able to make the finish as he hit a rock on Saturday morning and retired.

Alessandro Mariani, the team principal of Italian firm JAS Motorsport, which builds the Honda Civic Type R R3, said: "We're delighted to end the season in style on such a tricky event. The Civic is already well known as a very effective asphalt car, but this performance just goes to show how strong it is on gravel as well. This was not just ordinary gravel either: the conditions were extreme, but our two-wheel drive Civic managed to beat several more powerful four-wheel drive competitors and to fight in the overall points. With the season coming to a close and people now making plans for next year, this is a timely reminder of the speed and versatility of the Honda Civic Type R R3."

The IRC resumes with the legendary Monte Carlo Rally next year, from January 19-23 2010.

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