type-r

RoboRace needs one thing – some human competition

Roborace is a new series for autonomous racing cars - no drivers required!

UNLESS you were fed oversteer with your alphabetti spaghetti from an early age it’s very hard to make it as a professional racing driver.

There are exceptions to the rule but generally to make the grade in top flight motor sport you need to have a sizeable amount of raw talent, a proven track record of working your way up through increasingly scary single-seaters, total fearlessness about losing it on a slippery right-hander and a considerable amount of cash – and even then you might get a politely worded letter of rejection from Sauber.

But it’s going to be even harder with the latest racing series that’s being launched, because it’s so tech-savvy that it dispenses with those pesky human drivers entirely.

I suppose RoboRace was inevitable in an age where you can do your shopping by drone and Donald Trump is forever contemplating ordering a nuclear launch from one of his golf courses. The series has a very cool name and vehicles that can crack 200mph but there won’t be any split-second decisions on whether to take the racing line through chicanes.  It’s not even a remote control affair; all the racing will be done on engineers’ laptops beforehand, programming the cars to strut their stuff autonomously.

The tech itself is a smart move. Back in the 1950s Jaguar made a big deal about its Le Mans-proven disc brakes filtering down to its XK150s and Mk2s and it’s the same story here; if the future of driving really is autonomous, then surely having it honed in the white heat of motor sport is a good idea? I know the Government’s very keen on self-driving cars, but there are still all sorts of logistical headaches to clear up, and sorting it on a race track is safer (and more fun) than doing it on the M57.

But what I’d like to see isn’t a load of autonomous cars racing each other; it’s man versus machine, which is surely what all motor sport is about in the first place. Who wants to see a load of glorified laptops dancing around one another when they can watch one robo-racer set a time around a circuit or up a hillclimb, and then see if any of their human-operated counterparts can beat it?

I bet most kids in a Honda Type-R reckon they could kick a robot’s arse at a track day – and in doing so, they’ll be helping to improve the future of driving for the rest of us. Bring it on.

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Can’t afford a Civic Type-R? Here’s Honda’s solution

The Civic Sport looks like the Type-R but has a third of the powerHONDA has launched a hotted-up Civic that looks like the Type-R but costs eleven grand less to buy.

The new Civic Sport has a colour-coded rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels and a mesh grille to mimic its 306bhp sibling, but with a 100bhp 1.4-litre engine it’s a lot cheaper to buy, run and insure. It goes on sale next month, with prices starting from £18,360. That’s £11,635 less than you’ll pay for the Type-R – and at a glance most people won’t be able to tell the difference.

Personally, I reckon it’s a great idea – it gives hope to all those go-faster younger drivers who can’t afford to insure Japan’s turbocharged answer to the Ford Focus RS. It might come across as a bit of a sheep in wolf’s clothing, but let’s hope some of the Type-R sparkle has rubbed off on the new arrival.