This is the bike with which Honda will take on the world's toughest motorsport event - the CRF450 Rally, on show for the first time at the 2012 Intermot motorcycle expo in Cologne, Germany.

The race, of course, is the 2013 Dakar Rally; but Honda is no stranger to Dakar. Hondas competed nine times in the original Paris-Dakar, starting in 1981. French rally-raid hero Cyril Neveu won it on a Honda in 1982, and Honda won four times in a row - from 1986 to 1989 - for an overall record of five victories in nine years.

The 2013 CRF450 Rally is based on Honda's commercial CRF450X enduro racer but also has Honda's PGM-FI electronic fuel-injection system, which Honda hopes will extend the bike's range due to better fuel-efficiency and make it more durable - unlikely though that sounds on the face of it.


The race-wining Honda's of the 1980's were purpose-built machines; with the CRF450 Rally they're aiming for a first Dakar win on a production-based bike.

American rider Johnny Campbell, who has won the Baja 1000 desert races no less than 11 times, will join the four riders already announced - Helder Rodrigues (Portugal), Felipe Zanol (Brazil), Sam Sunderland (Britain) and Argentinian Javier Pizzolito to complete a five-man Honda team.

The CRF450 Rally, currently under development, has already done a lot of testing in Japan, and will make its race debut in the Morocco Rally, starting on 14 October.

The five Dakar riders will ride in Morocco Rally mainly to gather data, identify any problems with the bike under actual race conditions, and pinpoint any operational issues - but that doesn't mean they'll be taking it easy.