Honda unveiled its CRF450 Rally model at the 2012 International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bike Fair in Cologne, Germany today with the new bike set to compete in the 2013 Dakar Rally in January. Honda also announced that Johnny Campbell will be part of a five-rider Honda team that will attack the Dakar on the new bike.
Honda will compete in the forthcoming Dakar Rally with the aim of putting the fuel efficiency and endurance technology developed for its commercial vehicles to new challenges and, in turn, to later use the technology acquired from the race in commercial applications.
The CRF450 Rally, based on Honda's CRF450X enduro model, is fitted with Honda's Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) electronic fuel injection system to ensure fuel efficiency and durability. Honda will be aiming for its first rally victory with a model based on a production machine.
From 1981, Honda competed nine times in the forerunner of the current Dakar Rally - the Paris-Dakar Rally. Frenchman Cyril Neveu rode a factory Honda to victory in 1982 and Honda won four straight Dakar titles from 1986 to 1989.
Campbell, an 11-time Baja 1000 Champion, will join the four riders already announced for Honda's 2013 Dakar challenge - Helder Rodrigues (Portugal), Felipe Zanol (Brazil), Sam Sunderland (United Kingdom) and Javier Pizzolito (Argentina) - to complete the five-man Honda team.
The CRF450 Rally model currently under development has already undergone testing in Japan and will be ridden in its first race at the Morocco Rally 2012 that begins on October 14. The five riders set to compete in the Dakar Rally will ride the Morocco Rally mainly to gather data, identify any problems with the machine under race conditions, and pinpoint any operational issues.