5-time winner to field Helder Rodrigues and Felipe Zanol in Dakar 2013.
Honda will return to the Dakar Rally in 2013, which be held in January in South America. The route will bring competitors through Peru, Chile and Argentina and should present a tough test for both rider and machine.
'Big Red' used to compete in the Paris-Dakar Rally, the predecessor to today's Dakar Rally, and was officially involved from 1981 to 1989. In that period, they were crowned champions five times so Honda has a history of success on the event. It's been 23 years though since their official participation and the Dakar has been dominated in recent years by KTM.
The Honda team, to be called Team HRC, will include Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who took third place in the 2012 Dakar Rally, 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 Centre at Honda R&D. The machine is based on the CRF450X, the popular 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 Centre, Honda R&D Co. Ltd said, "The Dakar requires competitors to cover several hundred kilometres 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 the first year."