Honda recently announced its intention to participate as a works team in the motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally.
The Honda team – Team HRC – will have four riders including one Brit, Sam Sunderland. Although Sam is only 22-years-old he has already produced some good results in off-road rallies including the Australasian Safari – before he got knocked out by a kangaroo! Team HRC’s three other riders are Brazilian Felipe Zanol, who brings a wealth of experience in motocross and enduro race events, Javier Pizzolito (Argentina) and the talented Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues who took third place in the 2012 Dakar Rally.
The 2013 Dakar Rally will be held January 2013 in South America, travelling north to south through Peru, Chile and Argentina.
Honda’s last showing in the motorcycle class was 23 years ago – back when it was the Paris to Dakar Rally. Between 1981 and 1989 Honda took an impressive five wins. While away from the Dakar Honda have cleaning up in North America’s desert comp – the Baja 1000.
They will ride a prototype machine developed and produced by the Honda Motorcycle R&D Centre. The prototype machine is based on the CRF450X – the popular worldwide enduro racing model that combines ease of handling with superior competitive strength. Kit parts designed for use on the standard CRF450X model have also been developed and will be supplied to a limited number of teams.
Tetsuo Suzuki, Senior Managing Officer and Director, Chief Operating Officer, Motorcycle R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Commented: “The Dakar requires competitors to cover several hundred kilometers per day for more than two weeks. It needs a totally different type of vehicle from events such as motocross, trials and road races. Honda has put a great deal of effort into designing and building a powerful and winning machine.”
Some may say that Tetsuo Suzuki is feeling confident about their return as he went on to say “We are aiming for the championship from this first year” – we say if you have that many job titles, you’re gonna have some big ballsy claims – welcome back Honda.
You can read more about the event on dakar.com