July 2, 2012 – Honda has announced its intention to participate as a works team in the motorcycle class in the Dakar Rally to be held in January 2013 in South America, travelling north to south through Peru, Chile and Argentina. Honda competed nine times in the motorcycle class in the forerunner of the present Dakar Rally, the Paris-Dakar Rally, from 1981 through to 1989, and was a winner five times during that period. It has been 23 years since it last participated in the Rally.
The Honda team, to be called Team HRC, will include Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who took third place in the 2012 Dakar Rally, and Brazilian Felipe Zanol, who brings a wealth of experience in motocross and enduro race events, as well as Sam Sunderland (United Kingdom) and Javier Pizzolito (Argentina). They will ride a prototype machine developed and produced by the Motorcycle R&D Center at Honda R&D. 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 made available to a limited number of teams.
Tetsuo Suzuki, President, Honda Racing Corporation, 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. We are aiming for the championship from this first year.”
From Helder Rodgrigues Facebook:
Today begins a new phase of my career. Signed up with Honda and we are developing a prototype for the 2013 Edition of the Dakar Rally. I would like to thank Yamaha and all those who have worked with me over the last 4 years, especially when Philip De Almeida Portugal throughout the Yamaha support, professionalism and friendship. Finally, I want to thank you for the support and enthusiasm demonstrated over these years and I am counting on you for this new project.