Honda has been dominating Baja on motorcycles for the past decade, but this is a new foray into the desert-racing scene.
We watched new motorcycle records set in the recent Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, but outside of the two-wheeled world was some very interesting news. A one-off Honda prototype desert racer called the HPD Desert Pilot finished eighth in the Open division with a time of 15:37. Pikes was a shakedown for the machine which will eventually see life as a Baja 1000 racer.
The #93 machine is a one-seater that uses what looks like Fox Racing Shox and a powertrain co-developed by HPD (Honda Performance Development) and the California Race & Rally team. A mid-engine, production-based Honda V-6 sits in a tube-frame chassis and was driven by Gavin Skilton. Special competition treads, BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KR tires originally designed for Championship Off Road Racing (CORR), provided traction on the mixed terrain.
Honda also raced a B-Spec Rally Fit, which is a production-based machine entered in the Exhibition category by the Team Honda Research (THR) Rally team.
Could this be the beginning of something even bigger? Will we see a Dakar Rally smackdown with Honda battling the likes of Volkswagen and BMW in the future?
From a recent Honda press release:
“For the remainder of 2011, Skilton and his California Race & Rally team will campaign the HPD Desert Pilot as a Class 6 (unlimited chassis, 6-cylinder engine) entry in a variety of off-road races, culminating with November’s Baja 1000. THR will run the B-Spec Rally Fit in rallycross events for the remainder of the season.”