Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Special feature

Inside Honda’s latest TCR title-winning weapon

An official partner of Honda for over two decades, JAS Motorsport has developed the Japanese brand’s latest tin-top offering in the new-for-2023 Civic Type R TCR FL5. With significant revisions both externally and internally, it builds on lessons learned from its two previous models

Honda Civic Type R TCR FL5

Honda Civic Type R TCR FL5

Engineering

Our experts' guide on how you can become a better racing driver

The latest Honda Civic Type R TCR, based on the FL5 model, is the third car built to TCR regulations by JAS Motorsport since Marcello Lotti’s brainchild emerged in 2015 and succeeds the FK7 that was introduced for 2018.

Due to the ongoing challenges with the supply chain, the Italian operation’s aim was to produce 15 cars this year. In early rounds of the various TCR series worldwide, JAS supplied cars to customers on a round-by-round basis until their own machines were ready, but it has exceeded its target by getting 22 out of the door by September with lead times now roughly two months.

“I would say that we are probably where we should be,” JAS Motorsport’s TCR project leader Mads Fischer tells Autosport. “Honda put a lot of effort into the new FL5 and they have probably sold a lot more cars than expected. Also there it’s difficult to get enough material because the lead time of automotive parts is more critical than it was some years ago.”

After debugging some teething troubles and working in collaboration with customers, Fischer says the car “is starting to be stable” as issues are ironed out and optimised set-ups are devised. A first title was earned last month in Super Taikyu’s ST-TCR division by the M&K Racing squad that has ex-Formula 1 racer Shinji Nakano on its driving strength.

Reliability and ease of servicing have been important considerations, Fischer adds, with customers ranging from professional racing teams to plucky privateers operating out of a garage.

“Generally people are very happy about what we have done,” he explains. “It was easy for us to just make a copy-paste from the old car into a new chassis. But as the old car is the fifth year that it has been running, almost six, we decided to make a lot of changes in terms of electrics, layout, aero, making a car which is completely different. We made a complete new car.”

Here are the key features of the new machine, which in sprint trim is priced at €146,000.

Improving the top speed was a main focus for the FL5

Photo by: David Noels

Improving the top speed was a main focus for the FL5

Aero and styling

Needing to keep in step with the new FL5 road model drove some of the key styling choices on the TCR racer, but Fischer says key priorities for improvement based on the FK7 were also incorporated into the aerodynamic package.

“Probably where our previous car has always been lacking a little bit has been the top speed, so this is where we put a bit of our focus on the current car,” he outlines. This was achieved by reducing emphasis on what Fischer calls “the family feeling” where that resulted in unnecessary drag and placing more on pursuing the “the numbers on the aero side that we would like to have”.

As ever, this involved some compromise, with JAS keen to reduce the size of the badge on the front to improve airflow into the intercooler and Honda keen to retain its prominence to underline its membership of the Type R family. “So we opted to do the Honda badge like just a mesh,” Fischer says, “with the mesh red on the inside to generate that family feeling”.

“Sometimes you see that you’re making a big effort and making everything lower and then the driver actually, they’re going up because they cannot see where the car ends” Mads Fischer

He adds that aerodynamics were influenced by the JAS-built NSX GT3 Evo 22, which has also informed vehicle dynamics and “mainly the functionality that the driver has around” in the cockpit.

Chassis and suspension

A new chassis features a floor tunnel redesigned for a more central seating position that is also slightly lower, by “probably 40mm or something like this”, according to Fischer. This desire to maximise the opportunities presented by the regulations and follow the trends set by other manufacturers was also driven by an awareness that it could accommodate taller drivers.

“We have to be sure that we can allocate a driver of 1m65 up to 2m05 in the car,” he says. “This is giving you huge challenges in terms of the ergonomics of the driver, and this is one of the reasons that we did this option.”

The redesigned cockpit will allow more space for taller drivers

Photo by: David Noels

The redesigned cockpit will allow more space for taller drivers

But Fischer adds, “we did not want to get that extreme” as on street tracks greater visibility from a higher seating position is a worthwhile trade off against a centre of gravity offset.

“Sometimes you see that you’re making a big effort and making everything lower and then the driver actually, they’re going up because they cannot see where the car ends,” he muses.

The FL5 has new front and rear dampers developed with KW Automotive and a new multi-link rear suspension concept. Fischer reveals that the philosophy of the geometry is similar but with some new features on the rear axle including modified wheelarches, “again also looking at what is the trend of the other cars”.

“People are starting to cut the unnecessary stuff away to have more wheel clearance,” he says.

Chiefly to save weight, options required for endurance racing are not fitted as standard as on previous models.

“We decided to make a complete system that you can build into the car and attach,” explains Fischer. “It has its own power box, its own loom where you have all the options – extra door lights, cooling systems, you have ABS on it, you have additional driver cooling, you have timing sensors, you have whatever is necessary for the endurance. Whenever this is not used, you remove some weight.”

Tyres and brakes

The FL5 has to work on different tyres in the various championships it contests, from Kumho in TCR World Tour and TCR Europe, to Michelin in the IMSA-sanctioned Pilot Challenge and Goodyear in TCR UK. Despite having a strong knowledge base with the behaviours inherent to each brand, understanding their nuances Fischer maintains is “the biggest challenge we have” as they have significant implications for camber and suspension set-ups JAS advises teams to run.

Designing a car to operate on different tyre manufacturers became a key challenge for the FL5

Photo by: David Noels

Designing a car to operate on different tyre manufacturers became a key challenge for the FL5

Kumho’s rubber is the reference tyre used by a majority of series, while Michelins are predominantly run in endurance environments which makes it “a little bit easier to find” the ideal set-ups. Fischer feels JAS “managed to find a very good base for all the tyres that we’re working on, but this can only be done because you have so much previous experience”.

“If you asked me today to develop a complete new car, not knowing anything on the tyre, I would be a little bit afraid,” he admits. “But the tyres have been evolving all the years and some of them haven’t changed, which means it’s easy to carry the information onto your new car.”

The FL5 also has an upgraded braking system featuring monoblock calipers designed in-house with greater stiffness than those used on the FK7. ABS from Bosch is an optional extra for cars competing in endurance races.

Engine and transmission

The FL5 features a race-prepared version of the four-cylinder, two-litre turbocharged engine from the production Type R which is mated to a new JAS-developed turbocharger to produce 340hp. It comes as “all the other manufacturers are also going away from standard off-the-shelf turbochargers,” Fischer explains.

“One of their strong points on the car is the transmission. We do 4,500km on a set of driveshafts and that’s important for customers” Mads Fischer

The turbocharger, he admits, has been a “limitation” on previous TCR models, with the new spec bigger on the compressor and exhaust side, resulting in improved reliability. “Its easier to manage, and also generally better for the whole inlet system,” Fischer adds.

He regards the new six-speed sequential Sadev gearbox in the FL5 as “a huge step forward” and incorporates “a lot of new features for reliability”. Having worked with the French supplier, deemed “the benchmark for quality versus price”, throughout its time in TCR JAS has total faith in its capabilities and also called on Sadev for a new hydraulic pressure unit.

Reliability has been the target for the engine and gearbox

Photo by: David Noels

Reliability has been the target for the engine and gearbox

“One of their strong points on the car is the transmission,” says Fischer. “We do 4,500km on a set of driveshafts and that’s important for customers.”

Cockpit

JAS has worked extensively on the cockpit layout to make it “more like GT-looking”, Fischer explains, with more sophisticated steering controls and a bespoke JAS interface on the wheel itself, developed with Italian sim racing hardware company Cube Controls.

A new power steering system marks a move away from running standard Honda OEM steering racks, with the new rack deemed to be “stronger and having more options also for us to work with”. It has also moved to beef up the rollcage to meet the latest safety standards.

Can the third generation model emulate the success of its predecessors?

Photo by: David Noels

Can the third generation model emulate the success of its predecessors?

Be part of Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article First details of new FIM Women’s Motorcycling World Championship revealed
Next article Motorsport Network Appoints Mike Spinelli, Travis Okulski As Group Editorial Leaders

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe