Team HRC Debuts in Morocco Rally

October 15, 2012
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
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Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

Team HRC debuted at the Morocco Rally late in 2012 to prepare for the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America.
Team HRC riders are preparing for the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America by contesting the Morocco Rally.

On July 2, 2012 Honda announced its intention to contest the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America, its first appearance at the legendary race in 24 years. Through the ’80s Honda had an impressive record, winning five of the nine events between 1981 and 1989 while the race still spanned two continents, running from Paris to Dakar. In that announcement Honda also announced the prototype concept it planned to enter, which has since taken shape as the CRF450 Rally debuted at the recent International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bike Fair in Cologne, Germany.

Continuing in preparation for the world’s largest off-road race, Team HRC is set to race the six-day OiLibya Rally of Morocco. Many of the top teams and riders in Dakar are entered to contest the Morocco Rally, allowing Team HRC to see how it stacks up against the competition while gaining a feel for the new machinery in the sandy, rocky terrain of North Africa.

Team HRC began testing in Morocco on October 11th and the event begins Monday, October 15th with a 168 mile loop, beginning and ending in Erfourd. Later legs will take riders south to Zagora.

Helder Rodriguez of Portugal, Brazilian Felipe Zanol, Sam Sunderland of Great Britain, American Johnny Campbell and Argentinian Javier Pizzolito make up the internationally diverse five-rider line-up for Team HRC and each has extensive experience in rally racing throughout the world. Each rider recently weighed in on the chance to ride for Team HRC in Morocco and beyond.

Helder Rodrigues: “It’s an honor for me to be part of Team HRC. It’s a great opportunity in my career and I will do my best to thank Honda for the faith they have in me. All the team are gathered together for the first time in Morocco on the occasion of the Morocco Rally and it’s great to work with so many experienced engineers. I like the machine and I’m confident because the CRF450 Rally has improved a lot since the first test and I look forward to a good race and to a good team result.”

Felipe Zanol: “I’m very excited to be part of this project. Testing in Morocco before the rally was a good opportunity to test the different setting of the suspension, engine and fuel injection. The machine is progressing really well and I look forward to the race.”

Sam Sunderland: “I feel privileged and honored to have been chosen to be a Honda factory rider. It’s something I have dreamed about since I was a kid. I’m the young and inexperienced guy in the team and I’m learning a lot from Helder and Johnny, who have a great deal of experience. I feel a lot of support, the whole team is helping me out. I’m trying to soak up as much as possible and this race is a very good occasion to gain more experience with navigation and as a shakedown of the machine.”

Johnny Campbell: “I’m very excited to be part of Team HRC that will compete in Dakar. As a rider this is one dream that I thought would never happen to me in my career. I’m anxious to compete and see the team do well. My experience so far in Morocco has been exciting, I like the terrain and the atmosphere.”

Javier Pizzolito: “It’s a very special moment for me, I have ridden Honda all my life and I have been a rider of the official Honda Argentina Team since 2001. It’s great to be part of this important project and I’m very motivated. It’s the first time that we are testing all together and it’s very exciting. The CRF450 Rally has improved a lot since the last time I tested and I look forward to competing with it”.

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