Button begins Honda rallycross test programme
Jenson Button took a step closer to racing in rallycross on Wednesday, by testing a Honda Civic Coupe Supercar with Swedish team OlsbergsMSE in America.
The outgoing F1 driver, who has been retained as a reserve driver by McLaren and will continue to work with the team, views OMSE’s American Honda-backed Civic as the obvious car for him to switch disciplines.
Speaking after the test which took place on an airfield in Florida, OMSE owner Andreas Eriksson told Motorsport.com: "He likes it and he’s doing really well. Jenson is enjoying himself.
"He wanted to see what he can do and how fast he can be and so on, and that’s what we’re trying to help him answer. Obviously we both work closely with Honda, so it makes sense for him to do it with us.”
Successful rallycross team OMSE ran the Civic Supercars for the first time in the American-based Global Rallycross Championship last season, scoring five podiums.
It also entered the Canadian round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Trois-Rivieres with Swedish driver Sebastien Eriksson.
However, it ran out of time in getting the car added to the ‘List of cars not homologated by the FIA but eligible in Supercar’ prior to the event.
Asked about the chances of Button racing for the OMSE team this season, Eriksson said: “Nothing is ready, nothing is done. We’re just taking things step by step.
"I mean, he’s a great guy and we’ll see what happens, nothing is done or confirmed. He just wanted to know that if he does it, he can learn to be competitive. That’s the answer he would like to have [by being here] and he’s doing really well.”
Button previously sampled a rallycross Supercar when he drove a JRM Racing Mini at Lydden Hill for a BBC F1 feature in 2015, alongside David Coulthard.
The British driver has made no secret about his intention of racing in rallycross following his F1 career, saying in November he would "definitely" contest a full season in the category in the future.
Button would not be the first F1 champion to turn his hand to rallycross, as Jacques Villeneuve raced in World RX for Scottish squad Albatec Racing in 2014.
Ex-Renault F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr has also won GRC events, while former Toro Rosso man Scott Speed is a double champion in the US-based category.
Eriksson previously worked with Speed on his rallycross debut with OMSE in a Ford Fiesta, and said it’s clear to see if a driver has the passion to be involved.
"I have worked with many of these guys, you can easily see if they have the ability and the passion to be good. I mean you need to love this to really embrace it and do it correctly,” he said.
“You need to learn the right things because nobody is complete in rallycross. It’s just a compromise, it’s just taking the right compromise.”
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