Formula One world champion Jenson Button has returned to Bathurst’s Mount Panorama circuit to set what Honda Australia is claiming as a “benchmark” lap time for a road-going front-wheel drive production car.
Steering a showroom stock Honda Civic Type R, the 2009 F1 champ blazed around the iconic 6.2km track in 2:35.21, a time that would have placed second in class and within the overall top 20 against competition-prepared cars in this year’s Bathurst 6 Hour production and performance car endurance race.
Button already holds an unofficial lap record for The Mountain, setting a stunning 1:48.80 lap in the McLaren MP4-26 in a 2011 Australian Grand Prix promotional event.
According to Honda Australia. the Bathurst track-attack was part of its 50th birthday celebrations and inspired by the ‘Type R Challenge 2018’ program which saw a team of Honda race aces break FWD production car records at five of Europe’s most challenging circuits.
New records were set in Portugal (Estoril - WTCR driver Tiago Monteiro), Britain (Silverstone - BTCC legend Matt Neal), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps - Japanese Super GT racer Bertrand Baguette), France (MagnyCours - WTCR pilot Esteban Guerrieri), and Hungary (Hungaroring – Jenson Button).
For context, Button’s time is 1.3 seconds quicker than the fastest lap set by 1971 Bathurst winner Allan Moffat in the mighty Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III on a Chase-free' layout, but somewhat slower than overall road-going production car record holder Bernd Schneider, who in 2017 stopped the clocks in a blistering 2:16.50 in a Mercedes-AMG GT R.
Hyundai N Performance chief Albert Biermann also visited Bathurst in 2017 with pre-production versions of the i30 N hot hatch but chose to split the circuit into two distinct hill climb sections rather than circulate on the full layout.
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