If success was based on looks alone, HRC would be odds on favourites to win the 2014 Dakar with their new Honda CRF450 Rally. HRC returned to the Dakar in 2013 after a 25 year absence fielding a strong three man team. Despite the having the might of HRC behind the project they were unable to make their mark on the brutal 5000 mile two week race with a best finish of seventh thanks to Helder Rodrigues.
Ten months later and having made a three year commitment to Dakar, Honda have been flat out developing and testing and unveiled their heavily revised bike in Sao Paolo Brazil. The new bike and strong five rider team will get their first competitive outing in the Morocco Rally which starts on Sunday.
Honda isn’t the only team set to reveal a new Dakar bike this week in Morocco. KTM, who have become the benchmark in the prestigious race, will unveil a new model believed to be based on their current 450 Enduro and Motocross bikes.
The existing model was based around their original 690 Dakar bike and featured a steel trellis frame, but due to the more technical nature of the event since it switched to South America from Africa they are focussed on giving its star rider Marc Coma a faster and more agile bike.