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Honda is to enter a works team in the 2013 Dakar Rally - for the first time in 23 years.
Works HRC machines competed nine times in what was than the Paris-Dakar Rally, form 1981 to 1989, and if fact won it five times, but has not had an official entry since then - and has never competed in the current version of the world's toughest motorsport challenge, in South America.
The 2013 Dakar will follow a route from north to south through Peru, Chile and Argentina.
The Honda team, to be called Team HRC, will include Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who finished third in the 2012 Dakar, and experienced Brazilian motocrosser and enduro rider Felipe Zanol, as well as British rider Sam Sunderland and Javier Pizzolito from Argentina.
They will ride a prototype machine developed and built at Honda's famous R&D centre in Asaka, based on the production CRF450X enduro bike. At the same time, Honda R&D is developing a Dakar kit for the standard CRF450X, which will be 'made available' to selected teams.
Nobody at HRC is under any illusions that huge success in the Baja 1000 desert race with the indestructible XR650L is any preparation for 16 days of Dakar hell.
HRC president Tetsuo Suzuki said: “Dakar competitors have to ride several hundred kilometres a day for more than two weeks. That requires a totally different motorcycle from motocross, trials and road racing.
“Nevertheless, we've put a lot of effort into designing and building a competitive bike - we want to win it first time out!”
Even for the mighty Honda, that's a big ask. We'll be watching next year's Dakar Rally with even more interest.