BTCC Honda Civic NGTC

BTCC Honda Civic NGTC 1.07

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The 2013 Honda Civic NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car), entered by the Honda Yuasa and Pirtek Racing Teams into the British Touring Car Championship, is built for ultimate performance.

The Honda Civic boasts 330 horsepower, driven to the front wheels through its six-speed Xtrac sequential semi-automatic gearbox. The slick tires are a very modern radial design that cope very well with the preferred oversteer setup the car is fastest with.

The car is unlikely to change very much within current NGTC rules, so should remain competitive and cutting edge (whether raced in tourer or car configuration) for quite a few years.

First entered in NGTC configuration in 2012 by Honda Yuasa Racing, and driven by Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal to team/constructors championships as well as a driver title for Shedden, the car saw major success again in 2013 with a drivers title to Pirtek’s Andrew Jordan and a second constructors title for Yuasa.

The Honda Civic NGTC, as raced in the British Touring Car Championship, incorporates an Xtrac sequential semi-automatic gearbox, which renders lifting and blipping of the throttle unnecessary during shifts. This enables very quick and precise gear changes to achieve the fastest possible lap times. For these reasons left-foot braking is the common and the fastest driving technique, only using the clutch to launch the car when stationary.

The engine is a low revving and extremely reliable unit based on the Honda K20, featuring turbo-charged induction, the engine delivers a wide band of torque, while peak power is produced close to the redline. As such, short shifting is only necessary if you’ve been overly conservative in your fuel mileage calculations or when driving in damp conditions.

Being capable of around 330hp and upward of 400Nm of torque, and a front wheel drive vehicle, presents a significant challenge to engineers and drivers alike. From this perspective, the weight is always transferred away from the wheels when trying to accelerate the vehicle. It also means the front is doing the majority of steering, braking, and acceleration and thus, making life difficult for the front tires. A gentle or smoother driving style is required on the front end of the car to maintain tire life, while being more aggressive on the rear tires. Such a style means a slightly oversteery (loose) setup is preferable, though within limits, as an overly oversteery nature can also make life more difficult for the front tires.

The car is designed for ultimate performance, with driveability remaining an important but secondary consideration. In order to maintain full throttle through certain higher speed corners, the overall balance is adjusted to match. Due to the considerable weight transfer of a relatively high CG (center of gravity) touring car this means lifting the throttle has a significant bearing on the balance of the vehicle, compounded by the front drive nature. Throttle control is thus extremely important in these vehicles, a very slight lift often enough to cure substantial understeer in the car, while jumping right off the throttle is likely to induce massive oversteer.

As many are familiar when watching these types of cars, it’s possible to recover slides at extreme angles by counter-steering into the slide and slamming down the throttle. This kind of recovery would be impossible in a rear drive vehicle.

The tires are a very modern radial design, with both slicks and dedicated wet tires available. The slick tires perform optimally with temperatures of around 80-105°C. Tire dimensions are 245/650 R18. Wheelbase is 2621mm, and steering wheel rotation is 2.22 turns lock-to-lock (800 degrees).

Braking on the front end is achieved by four-piston, two pad calipers with a 362mm ventilated disc. At the rear we see two-piston, two-pad calipers working on a 304mm solid disc. Front/Rear caliper piston ratio’s provide about 78% front stopping bias with a 50% balance bar setting. Because of the vast difference in braking power between the front and rear ends, the car utilizes two different pad types front and rear to create different friction vs. temperature curves.

The front brakes provide peak friction around 300-520°C, though under heavy braking the brakes can reach between 850 and 1,050°C, while at the back the pads provide more low temperature bite, providing peak friction around 300-400°C. The first brake application may be a little tricky as the rears will initially provide a touch more bite, but the brakes soon reach an equilibrium allowing a more stable driving experience. Due to the nature of the car braking in a straight line is recommended, especially at higher speeds.

Brake bias, though, is an extremely important tool in this car. On the fly front to rear brake balance adjustments allow the driver to fine tune brake bias between corners for optimum braking. For faster corners you may feel the need to run slightly more bias to the front end and bring that further rearward for tighter corners and hairpins, this will help immensely to avoid snagging a wheel on turn in, and also back the car in slightly.

We have used our physics tool to calculate the figures in the table below:

Top km/h 243 (ratio limited, 260 theoretical)
Accel G 0.51
Braking G 1.68
Cornering G 1.55
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