HRC has set its sights on winning the Dakar Rally in 2014 and today unveiled a new motorcycle and 5-man dream team here at Mugello.
The 2014 team comprises five riders: Helder Rodrigues (Portugal, age 34), Sam Sunderland (U.K., 24), Javier Pizzolito (Argentina, 33), Paulo Goncalves (Portugal, 34) and Joan Barreda (Spain, 29), shown above left to right while being interviewed by Team Director Martino Bianchi.
The 2014 Dakar begins on January 5th, 2014. In addition to familiar territory in Argentina and Chile, the 6th South American Dakar will add stages in Bolivia and finish on January 18th in Valparaiso, Chile, after 8,000 kilometers of racing.
Some of the HRC riders will debut the new motorcycle in June at the Argentinian Desafio Ruta 40. This is the earliest public appearance of the new Honda CRF450 RALLY to which HRC’s Katsumi Yamazaki would commit.
Speaking frankly to the large MotoGP-centric crowd at Mugello, Yamazaki-san admitted that Honda’s recent effort had problems with the bike, and said that many aspects of the CRF450 RALLY’s predecessor have been improved.
HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto, a familiar face in the MotoGP paddock, stated in his introduction that HRC believes they have the best bike and the best team for 2014. The riders’ accomplishments are impressive, including many national and international titles in enduro, motocross, and rally competitions. And I have to say that the new bike looks fantastic.
Every detail I examined made plain that HRC is bringing the same level of Honda polish to its new Rally machine as I see in the MotoGP pit lane.
I was also impressed with the determination showed by Nakamoto-san, Yamazaki-san, and Mr. Bianchi when they spoke of how important victory at the Dakar is to HRC’s efforts to be the best in motorcycle racing.
Rally fans will surely be watching the Desafio Ruta 40 closely to see how the CRF450 RALLY might stack up against the Dakar-dominant KTM.
Source: HRC; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved