Honda has confirmed its intention to participate as a works team in the Dakar Rally in January 2013 in South America. Honda, through its Team HRC, will take part in the motorcycle class of the race, which runs through Peru, Chile and Argentina. Honda had participated in the motorcycle class of the predecessor of the present Dakar Rally, the Paris-Dakar Rally, from 1981 through to 1989.
Honda emerged as victor five times during that period. Team HRC will include: Helder Rodrigues, who was third in the 2012 Dakar Rally; Felipe Zanol, who has lots of experience in motocross and enduro race events; Sam Sunderland; and Javier Pizzolito. The team will be riding a prototype machine developed and produced by the Motorcycle R&D Center at Honda R&D.
Honda based the prototype machine on the CRF450X, an immensely popular enduro racing model that boasts of superior competitive strength as well as the ease of handling. Honda has also developed kit parts designed for use on the standard CRF450X model and will supply them to a limited number of teams.
According to Tetsuo Suzuki, Senior Managing Officer and Director, Chief Operating Officer, Motorcycle R&D Centre, Honda R&D Co., Ltd., the Dakar rally needs a different type of vehicle from motocross, trials and road races as it requires entrants to cruise several hundred kilometres per day for more than two weeks. He quipped that Honda spent a great deal of effort to design and build “a powerful and winning machine.” Suzuki remarked that Team HRC is aiming to win the championship on its first year in the Dakar Rally.