The Civic, Honda’s ubiquitous compact car that’s been pumped out in all manner of forms. From grocery-getter to hot hatch hero, the humble Civic has a long history of being driven hard.
All around the world, streets and circuits alike are full of buzzing little Hondas, but in Ireland, it’s the rally stages that have spawned the biggest advances in Civic builds.
A bumpy lane, grass growing up the middle and littered in mud and loose stone. It might sound alien to most Civic owners, but this bright green EG hatchback is in its element in this environment.
While countless Civics tackle the laneways and byways of the Irish countryside every rally event, the vast majority are powered by the endlessly adaptable Honda B-series engine. But for Michael Fitzgibbon, the desire to be a little different was a guiding principle in his decision to go the Honda K-powered route. That and the K’s immense bang for buck.
Sat within its pristine garage, it’s noticeable just how small the EG Civic actually is to begin with. And what was also already a light car to begin with has been taken to the extreme in the quest for rally podiums.
While the original exterior body panels remain – the fibreglass bonnet being the only exception – on the inside, every opportunity has been taken to achieve a kerb weight of around 1,000kg (2,200lb).
The shell is seam-welded throughout, while the Custom Cages FIA-spec roll cage with additional front and rear bracing makes the car incredibly safe. The latter is especially handy knowing its intended purpose, but it also makes the Civic rigid and stable at speed.
Inside this Civic is understandably peak race car, but the work of Eoghan at ETM Motorsport is at a level far beyond a typical clubman rally build. In fact, I liken it to the level of a works-built machine.
Opening the carbon-panelled doors, the first thing that catches the eye is how far back the driver and co-driver seats sit. The driving position has been moved rearward 300mm, with the steering column and controls extended out from the cut-down dash.
Wired by PT Motorsport, all the interior controls are now handled by an ECU Master PDM. Gone are the days of huge looms, and in this case a 12kg saving was made on the electrical side of things alone. Tucked under the dash is a DTA S60 ECU, feeding all the vital details directly to a DTA digital dash.
Sat beside the driver’s seat, the hydraulic handbrake lever and Sadev ST82 sequential transmission shifter fall very easily to hand. The ST82 is designed as an incredibly compact and strong unit with a tiny footprint within the engine bay, perfect for a compact FWD application.
What the sequential box is bolted to is pretty special though. Built by KGP Engineering, the naturally aspirated K20A pumps out an impressive 294hp.
The engine itself, fully built internally to race spec, is boosted by the addition of a Honda RRC inlet manifold from an FD2 Civic Type R and a KTuned exhaust manifold and 3-inch exhaust to allow things to breathe as freely as possible. To ensure constant lubrication, a Pace dry sump kit is fitted too.
All the power is sent to the front wheels via a Helix twin-plate clutch and a pair of custom drive shafts.
To survive the rough and tumble of a typical rally stage, suspension technology is vital. X-Trax 3-way adjustable coilovers fed by remote reservoirs feature, as does a full suite of rose-jointed arms front and rear. A Tilton pedal box is where the footwork magic happens.
Power and handling are one thing, but in the rally world they’re nothing without decent brakes, and this ETM Motorsport-built car has this area ticked off. Tucked neatly behind Revolution Motorsport wheels are 4-pot AP Racing callipers and 298mm discs up front, and a Brembo 2-pot calliper/272mm disc setup out back.
Immaculate in every respect, this is a car built to make quick work of all conditions that a typical stage rally can throw at it, be it in Ireland or even further afield. Michael, navigator Carrie Ryan and the Civic have tasted the unique elements of Belgian tarmac on occasion.
The buzz to hear that five second countdown and send the K20A screaming down a rural back road is returning, and it won’t be long until this Civic will be back on an entry list once more.