Honda has announced that it will take part in next year’s Dakar Rally, to be held in January 2013 in South America. The Japanese manufacturer will participate as a works team at the annual off-road race, in which riders travel north to south through Peru, Chile and Argentina.
Honda Returns to Dakar Rally
Honda’s involvement marks the first time it has competed at Dakar in 24 years. Honda appeared the Paris-Dakar Rally, the precursor to the Dakar Rally, from 1981 through 1989.
The Honda Dakar Team
Honda’s team, to be named Team HRC, will consist of Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who finished third in the 2012 Dakar Rally, and Felipe Zanol, a Brazilian rider who is well versed in both motocross and enduro racing events. Team HRC will also include Sam Sunderland (United Kingdom) and Argentinean Javier Pizzolito.
Although Team HRC contains four competent riders, Rodrigues seems to be Honda’s best chance for a victory. Not only did Rodrigues win Stages 9 and 13 during the 2012 rally, but also has an intimate knowledge of the 450 platform, having helped Honda in the development of the bike.
Each team member will ride a new prototype bike currently being developed by the Motorcycle R&D Center at Honda R&D. The upcoming motorcycle is based on the CRF450X, a popular enduro-racing model. The CRF450X is highly regarded worldwide for its unique combination of ease of handling and advanced competitive strength.
Honda has also developed kit parts intended for standard CRF450X models, which will be made available to a limited number of teams.
Tetsuo Suzuki, President of Honda Racing Corporation, remarked, “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. We are aiming for the championship from this first year.”
2012 Dakar Rally
Last year’s Dakar Rally was won by Cyril Despres, a French rider who previously won the race in 2005, 2007 and 2010. Marc Coma, who finished second, would have come out victorious if his motorcycle’s gearbox didn’t break during the race’s homestretch. The win would have been Coma’s fourth at Dakar.
Introduced in 1978, the Dakar Rally is an annual rally raid off-road race, currently help in South America. The event originally took place from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, but moved to South America in 2009. The Dakar Rally is open to both amateurs and professionals. In fact, amateurs usually make up roughly 80 percent of all participants.
The 2013 Dakar Rally will be held from January 5th to 20th.