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Honda's newly expanded rally team has jetted out of Australia for Italy to test the new Group G2 Honda Jazz rally machines ahead of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship season opener at Rally Calder on 1-4 March.

Co-driver Glen Weston and newly recruited team member Mark Pedder jetted out of Australia last weekend to join team driver Eli Evans who has flown into Italy from the USA where he was honeymooning following his recent marriage.

The has team gathered in Milan at renowned rally and motor sport preparation specialists JAS where the two Honda Jazz group G2 machines have been built ahead of a one day shakedown test and a further three days of tests in the South of Italy.

Glen Weston says the prospect of testing the new cars is an exciting step for the newly expanded team and will allow the team to get a lot of things set for the upcoming Bosch ARC season.

"We have an initial one day test as a shakedown just near the JAS factory in Milan before the car goes back to the workshop to sort any minor problems," said Glen Weston.

"Following that the car will be shipped to a gravel stage in Southern Italy where we will be joined by British champion Guy Wilks for a full three day test before the cars gets shipped to Australia in time for Rally Calder," he said.

"Guy Wilks was the 2007 and 2008 British Rally Champion and of course campaigned the Honda Civic Type R at Rally Canberra and at Coffs Harbour in 2009 and will be invaluable in helping to get the car sorted as quickly as possible," he added.

"I will be co-driving throughout the tests for Guy, Eli and Mark Pedder which will be great and will allow me to totally understand the car and how it works."

"The benefit of testing the Honda in Italy is that if anything needs to be altered it can be done quickly and easily at the JAS workshops before the cars are shipped and will be followed up by a two day test in Australia just prior to Rally Calder," said Glen.

Chief Mechanic for Evans Motorsport, Jesse Robison has been in Italy for the past three weeks during final assembly of the new Hondas to ensure he knows every aspect of the new cars.

"Having Jesse over their during the final assembly is going to be a big advantage for us because he will have an intimate knowledge of every aspect of the cars," said GlenWeston.

Honda Australia's two new Jazz rally cars have been designed to meet the new G2 specifications and will combine the very best in Australian and European engineering using specifications found in many World Rally Championship cars.

Both cars will be powered by a Mugen-tuned two-litre engine delivering 183kW of power at 9000RPM with 193Nm of torque.
There will be separate two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive titles in the Bosch ARC in 2012 with the new Group G2 regulations becoming the major structure for the two-wheel drive championship.

However from the commencement of the 2013 season only competitors using two wheel drive cars will be eligible for outright championship points. While four-wheel drive rally cars will still be able to contest events they will not be able to score championship points.

The basis of the new Group G2 will be front or rear wheel drive cars available for sale in Australia which must be no more than seven years old (plus model run ons).

Group G2 adds to the already available set of two wheel drive regulations being Production Rally Car(PRC), FIA R and Group N, Showroom, etc allowing an unrestricted choice.

The new two wheel drive Group G2 category is expected to deliver cars that are both exciting to watch and hear in the forests as well as being exciting to drive while ensuring market relevance and economic viability.

The new Group G2 is an extension of the Bosch ARC's 'Unrestricted' mantra and is about creating cars that look and sound great, are able to be built to a realistic cost and are more relevant to the cars Australians are driving on our roads.

The new G2 rally category will debut at Rally Calder presented by East Coast Bullbars on March 1-4.
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