HRC unveil full rider line-up in Japan

By Michael Guy -

MotoGP

 07 February 2014 09:03

MotoGP, Dakar, MX and Trials get HRC status – but no support for WSB.

Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) is the most prestigious name in motor racing with unprecedented success in their chosen fields of competition. Their MotoGP effort remains the pinnacle of their racing activities with riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa finishing 1st and 3rd in 2013 to secure the riders, team and manufacturer world titles.

For 2014 the rider line-up remains the same and given the result of the first test from Sepang this week where Marquez showed his ominous pace to decimate his rivals. While he was satisfied to be fastest he is still searching for improvements from his RC213V for the coming season.

He said: “When you are pushing the limits you must work not only on the bike, but also the riding style. Coming from the Sepang test I am very happy with the bike, although we still need to improve our mid corner speed a little bit corner exit.
“The bike felt different in Sepang than it did in Valencia so now we need to go to another circuit and check the character again. I was happy in Valencia and very happy in Sepang so we need to keep working in that way. We need to keep the motivation high because for sure the other manufacturers will improve and we need to be ready.”

While the importance of MotoGP to Honda is blatantly obvious, it is no longer the sole focus of motorcycling’s biggest manufacturer. In 2012 HRC unveiled an ambitious big budget project to win the Dakar – a race that is regarded as the toughest on the planet. It was initially a tough start but in this year’s race in January they came with an all new bike and revised rider line-up. Although the were unable to win the event they secured a total of six stage wins and were looking set to secure second in the overall standings with Joan Barreda until the penultimate stage of the race. They eventually finished fifth with Helder Rodrigues, but illustrated their clear potential and will be back in 2015 in a bid to win the coveted race.

Honda Montesa’s trials assault is also now a HRC project with Toni Bou aiming to clinch his 8th world championship in 2014.

The FIM Motocross World Series is another discipline that has gained full factory HRC status with riders Evgeny Bobryshev and Max Nagel bidding to win the MX1 title title.
Speaking about the decision to make trials and MX factory projects President of HRC, Tetsuo Suzuki said: “Before these teams were either affiliated to Honda or run as factory teams. By becoming full HRC it gives us more speed and more flexibility to develop.

But while HRC are growing their involvement in world motorsport it was bad news for Brits Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam with Tetsuo Suzuki confirming that there was no plan or future intention of returning to WSB with a factory team.