Hybrid racing hatchback impresses on its race debut, scoring pole position in Japan's Super GT series.
Wait a second, a hybrid race car? We've got to be kidding, right? Only we're not. Nor is this an F1 car fitted with a Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or a Le Mans Prototype with a hybrid assist. What we're looking at here is a proper hybrid race car. Developed in conjunction between Honda and its closely-affiliated racing partner Mugen, the CR-Z GT was unveiled just this past July but only now made its race debut. It was built to compete in the second-tier GT300 series of Japan's Super GT series.
That's where it competed this weekend for the first time against a field as varied as the BMW Z4 GT3, Nismo GT-R GT3, Subaru BRZ GT300 and Lexus IS350. The specially-built CR-Z pairs a 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 with an electric motor to produce 300 horsepower in accordance with class regulations. In other words, this isn't the same CR-Z you'd expect to see parked in front of your local Starbucks. So how did it fare? Well, it's not winning races right out of the box, but few racecars do. They all face teething issues, but as far as new debuts go, the CR-Z GT did pretty well.
In the first race it qualified ninth out of 25 entries and even made it as high as second place at one point... before dropping down the field with engine troubles and finishing 16th. In the second race it impressively qualified on pole, but though it failed to finish, it had advanced to such a position that it was still classified 11th in its class and 22nd overall (behind the more powerful GT500 machines). In other words, the CR-Z GT is showing some real promise. Now if Honda could only fix the production CR-Z we might be able to say the same.