New season, new car for title-hungry Olsbergs MSE team

The Global Rallycross may not have the prestige of Formula One or the following of NASCAR, but it sure has made a name for itself as one of the most exciting racing series in the world. A handful of automakers, including Ford, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Chevrolet already have racers that compete in the series, and for the 2016 season, another one is joining in on the fun.

Honda is entering the fold this season as the new race car provider of the Red Bull Olsbergs MSE team, considered in the Rallycross circle as the most accomplished team in the series’ short history, having won four of the series’ first five championships. In fact, the only one it lost was the 2015 title, which likely brought about the change in race cars. Whatever its reasons are, Olsbergs MSE has traded the Fiesta ST as the team’s official racer for the Honda Civic Red Bull GSR.

The race car is essentially a loosely based version of the production Civic Coupe. It’s been completely recalibrated by Olsbergs and Honda Performance Division for rallycross use, right down to the prevalent use of Red Bull livery. 2014 GRC champion Joni Wiman and 2015 runner-up Sebastian Eriksson will once again race for Olsbergs MSE. While they did have a lot of success with the Fiesta ST, they’re going to be entering the opening round of the 2016 Red Bull GRC in Phoenix, Arizona with a new car that the team hopes can vault its drivers back to the top of the championship standing.

The 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross season starts off in May 2016.

Continue reading to learn more about the Honda Civic Red Bull GRC.

Exterior

2016 Honda Civic Red Bull GRC High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670790

At first glance, The Civic Red Bull GRC doesn’t deviate away from the looks of the standard coupe. But, there are some notable changes to the car, most of which were made for racing reasons. Take a look at the front for example. With the exception of the headlights, everything is actually different there. The front bumper of the production model has been replaced by a more cut version that features a large intake in the middle that should help send more air to the turbocharged engine. Speaking of which, a pair of vents have been added to the hood of the car, likely done to let out some of the heat coming off of the engine.

The front bumper of the production model has been replaced by a more cut version that features a large intake in the middle that should help send more air to the turbocharged engine

The fog lamps on the standard model are also gone and, if you look at the top section of the front grille, you’ll see a new horizontal bar that’s not all that different from the one below it. It’s not visible from any of the photos, but since the car is going to be used for racing purposes, expect an underbody guard somewhere in there too. Air vents on both sides of the racer and the massive rear spoiler complete the aerodynamic changes to the car.

From a cosmetic standpoint, the changes are obvious. Almost the the entire body of the Civic Red Bull is covered with decals and liveries, most of which are Red Bull’s logo. Honda’s logo is also in there, as are the Civic’s logo and that of Honda Racing and some of the team’s partners and suppliers, including BG Goodrich and KMC Wheels, the latter of which provided those shiny red rims.

Interior

There are no interior shots of the Civic Red Bull GRC but since the car has been converted into a rally car for all intents and purposes, don’t expect to see the usual array of creature comforts found on the standard Civic Coupe. Instead, the cabin has been stripped down and given standard-issue rally gear, which should comprise of a roll cage, race seats, a digital readout, an extra long gear shifter, and a layout of switches and buttons that are common place among rally race racers. A telemetry system should also be found on board the Civic Red Bull GRC, but other than these important rally elements, don’t anticipate there being anything that could weigh the car down when it’s racing.

Drivetrain

2016 Honda Civic Red Bull GRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 670204

Very few details were given on the engine, but Honda said that race car builder Olsbergs MSE (OMSE,) worked in collaboration with its own performance division, Honda Performance Development (HPD) to give the Civic Red Bull GRC an incredible 600 horsepower. That’s enough to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in an unbelievable 1.9 seconds to go with the ability to effortlessly handle those 70-foot table jumps that are commonplace in the Global Rallycross Series. I can’t imagine the Civic’s 2.0-liter, DOHC, i-VTEC, four-cylinder engine being able to accommodate that kind of power, so expect massive turbochargers to be responsible for the output getting dialed up to 600 ponies.

Prices

Pricing details weren’t announced and don’t expect one to be publicly disclosed. This is a race car after all and as such, it’s unlikely to be available for public use anytime soon.

Competition

Volkswagen Beetle GRC

2015 Volkswagen Beetle GRC
- image 628708

The Ford Fiesta ST may be the winningest car in the history of the Global Rallycross Series, but the Ford’s run of dominance was ended last year by the unlikeliest of cars: the Volkswagen Beetle GRC. It might seem strange to talk about the Beetle as a race car unless Herbie’s name is being thrown around, but the truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. The history books of the Global Rallycross will forever say that Scott Speed won the series for Volkswagen, with Andretti Rallycross behind the wheel of the Beetle GRC.

This year, the Beetle GRC will be staring down Olsbergs MSE’s new Civic Red Bull racer to create another exciting championship showdown that has become more action-packed with each passing season. No details have been released regarding the new Beetle racer’s performance capabilities, but expect it to be better than it was in seasons past when it featured a 1.6-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder, TSI engine that produced 544 horsepower, allowing it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in only 2.1 seconds.

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Beetle GRC here.

Subaru WRX STI GRC

2015 Subaru WRX STI Rallycross Car
- image 624366

The Subaru WRX STI GRC hasn’t had the most successful of runs in the Global Rallycross Series. Its been competitive in the past, but it hasn’t been able to translate that competitiveness into actual race wins. It’s a shame because the team’s lineup of drivers are all accomplished stars in their own right. Not a lot of people expect them to compete in the championship this season, but with a new WRX STI GRC leading the way, it should be able to string off a couple of surprises. For that to happen, WRX STI GRC should be better than it has ever been.

Read our full review on the Subaru WRX STI GRC here.

Conclusion

2016 Honda Civic Red Bull GRC High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 670788

I’ve only seen a handful of races from the Global Rallycross Series, but from my limited experience with the series, I can say unequivocally that it’s one of the most exciting racing competitions in the world. From a pure action stand point, there’s really nothing quite like it. Olsbergs MSE has been the most successful team in the series’ short history, but with the team losing the championship to Volkswagen Andretti last year, there are a lot of expectations for Olsbergs to once again flex its Global Rallycross Series muscles. The fact that it has replaced the Ford Fiesta ST with the new Civic Red Bull GRC only adds to the expectation that Olsbergs will be hell bent on reclaiming its crown.

  • Leave it
    • * Still unproven in a race setting
    • * Can’t be bought by private citizens

Press Release

Today Honda unveiled the new racing livery for its Civic Red Bull Global Rallycross racecar, announcing plans to campaign the all-new turbocharged 2016 Civic Coupe in the 2016 series in partnership with Red Bull and championship-winning race team Olsbergs MSE. The Honda Civic Red Bull GRC team will begin racing on May 21 in Phoenix at the first event of the season.

2016 Honda Civic Red Bull GRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 670206

Developed from a production-model 2016 Civic Coupe chassis by renowned builders and racers Olsbergs MSE (OMSE) with technical assistance from Honda Performance Development (HPD), the all-new Civic Red Bull GRC car is built to withstand the rigorous demands of racing in a series that emphasizes repeated aggressive acceleration and varied terrain. The car will boast more than 600 horsepower, turn in a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds and is designed to handle the 70 foot table-top jumps featured on each racetrack.

"Global Rallycross is seriously extreme racing, and it’s a terrific platform to showcase the new Civic Coupe to an enthusiastic, performance-minded young audience," said Nick Lee, National Advertising Manager, American Honda Motor Co, Inc. "We won’t encourage our customers to take 70-foot jumps out on the street, but we will use this platform to tell people about all the incredible technology and performance capabilities of our new Civic Coupe."

Driving the 2016 Honda Civic Red Bull GRC car for Team Honda are experienced competitors and former teammates Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman. Eriksson, from Sweden, and Wiman, from Finland, have both made their mark in the series, with Wiman winning the 2014 Global Rallycross Championship and Eriksson finishing second in 2015. The two met in competition during the 2013 GRC Lites season, where Eriksson finished runner-up to Wiman, who swept the series.

Honda’s entry into Red Bull Global Rallycross is the latest in a diverse portfolio of North American professional and grassroots auto racing programs supported by Honda that include the Verizon IndyCar Series, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli World Challenge, United States F4 Championship and multiple Touring Car and Rally Car series.

2016 Honda Civic Red Bull GRC High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 670207

Red Bull Global Rallycross is designed to produce some of the fastest and most exciting racing in motorsports, pitting small production-based cars against each other in door-to-door racing featuring dirt, asphalt, and table-top jumps. The 2016 Honda Global Rallycross Civic will make its racing debut on May 21 and May 22 with a double header event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information visit www.RedBullGlobalRallycross.com.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: