McLaren F1 stars' final Honda hurrah

McLaren F1 stars' final Honda hurrah

Every year Honda puts on a party for their fans: the Honda 'Thank You Day'. F1 Racing joined Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne for this madcap affair. Words: Stuart Codling Photos: LAT/ANDY HONE

The trees haven't yet shed their coat of richly auburn autumn leaves; only the chill, when you step out of the low sun's glare, reminds you that winter holds this hemisphere in its grip. Motegi may not be the most remote race circuit in the world - that honour probably rests elsewhere in Japan, atop the extinct volcano wherein nests Autopolis - but it's admirably bucolic, being a 100-mile schlep from the heart of Tokyo and buried within dense woodland. Next to this, even majestic Spa-Francorchamps seems positively suburban.

For gaijin such as we, reaching Motegi is an adventure in itself: the bullet train from Tokyo kicks off at the nearest city, Utsunomiya, a 90-minute bus ride away (when they're running, and if you can get on the right one). Car it is, then, and F1 Racing's wheels for the weekend - a cuboid Mazda 'Flair Wagon' hustled along by an enthusiastic 660cc triple - couldn't be more Japanese. Arriving well after dark, we're only aware of the terrain's gradual incline over the last 20 miles thanks to the screech-signalling of that industrious engine and its rubber-band CVT gearbox. The vista next morning of this unusual two-circuits-in-one is truly extraordinary.

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