Why. This is a word I have been hearing all weekend. As in why did I choose to bring my long-term Honda CR-Z to MTN Kalahari Desert SpeedWeek? Especially since I can organise pretty much any sports car my young motoring journalist heart desires. Well to answer your question, I did it to be different.
While you will continue seeing many a Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, I can assure you that nobody else will be bringing a CR-Z to the pan. Not this year. And probably not next year either. So to say that I’m the only person to drive one of these fairly rare coupés down the 5km desert drag strip is quite cool. Well in my book anyway.
I also chose to bring the Honda because it’s a hybrid (a mild hybrid to be precise). In fact it happens to be (for the time-being at least) the only hybrid vehicle listed on the official entry list. This means that whatever top-speed I eventually reach, the CR-Z can lay claim to be being the fasted hybrid at this year’s event. Which is quite a nice thing for Honda’s local marketing team to tote.
So how fast has this little sports hybrid been able to go? Well I have been down the strip three times so far and the highest speed I’ve hit is 169km/h. Which means that, at the very least, I’ve been able to throw the CR-Z well into the 100mph Club (100mph = 160kph). Now I know that this doesn’t sound very quick. But because the clay surface is so soft and prone to breaking up, it’s actually quite respectable. It also makes the Honda a fair bit faster than some of the V8-powered hot rods and vintage Porsche 356 Outlaws present.
I have one more run left and I am hoping to break the 170kph barrier. And to do so will take a considerable amount of timing and patience. For unlike in the non-hybrid cars I can’t just gun it from the start. Doing so will simply deplete the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system and leave me sans any of the extra boost it provides.
Consequently I have to accelerate away from the start very slowly and fool the computer into not giving me any electronic assistance. Then only once I’m 1.5-kilometers away from timing lights, with a full battery pack, can I punch the Plus Sport button (basically a KERS system) and unleash the Honda’s maximum performance potential. Yeah, it’s something of an art form all right. But hopefully one that will thrust me a little higher up the leader board and leave an avant-garde mark…
[PICTUREs: Halden Krog and Thomas Falkiner]