Sam Preston | EP3 Honda Civic Type R
If you’ve saw our feature on Santa Pod’s recent bracket racing Dial-in Day, you’ll already have a vague idea what I’ve been up to this month.
I’d been itching to see how my Civic would perform on a quarter-mile drag strip for some time. Heading to somewhere like Santa Pod is a great way to safely get to know your car on the limit a little better – where split-second reaction times and quick decision-making are vital. You need to feel comfortable in your car to get the best results.
I won’t dwell on the specifics of the day; all you need to know is that bracket racing is a complicated but very addictive sport. The afternoon was also another big eye-opener into the capabilities of my humble little car, which yet again performed nothing but impeccably.
With detailed instructions and guidance from the Santa Pod guys, my vision of doing tyre-popping burnouts before my run and giving the car a million revs as I waited for the green light to show was quickly given something of a reality check. When running road tyres and in a front-wheel-drive car, it’s actually counter-productive to give it much more than idle revs on your launch, as doing so will only result in you sitting on the spot with your wheels spinning beneath you. Keeping your right foot in check, though, is easier said than done, especially with the adrenaline-packed red mist falling over you at the starting line.
It became increasingly apparent throughout my time at Santa Pod that there’s so much more to drag racing that just booting your car off the lights. As mentor Ian Marshall told us during our briefing, it is an art form that people often spend their whole lives perfecting. The more runs I did, the more in tune with my EP3 I’d like to think I became, with the times dropping accordingly. Buzzing through the slick-shifting ‘box felt fantastic and cemented my beliefs that this car is nothing short of awesome, especially on the limit.
By the end of the day, my car became one of the fastest front-wheel-drive cars present, with more than one person asking me what modifications I’d carried out on it! My best time was 15.1 seconds; which after a browse around on the forums appears to be spot-on for a standard Civic Type R. This proved to be a faster time than such cars as a 2008 Ford Fiesta ST, and only a shade slower than a Jaguar XK8. Needless to say, I’m very proud of the way it performed.
Joining me on the day was sister publication Performance BMW’s editor Elizabeth. With an E39 540 V8-powered automatic BMW as her weapon of choice, I was interested to see how my car would fare against this very different specimen. We guessed that although the cars offer very different ways of delivering their power, their quarter-mile runs were likely to be close. Turns out we were right; with both cars recording identical best times of 15.1 seconds! It’s probably worth noting that were the strip to be any longer than it was, Elizabeth would have left me in a trail of V8-infused dust, as this was the moment her car really seemed to come into full swing…
That just leaves me room to give a big thank you to Phil and the guys at Santa Pod for making us feel so welcome and offering us invaluable tips throughout the day to shave time off our runs.