Monday, August 10

HONDA ACHIEVES 700 FIM GP WINS

Dani Pedrosa (left) and Marc Marquez celebrate Honda's 700th GP win, at Indianapolis.  Pedrosa is in the record books as the winner of Honda's 600th GP, when he won the 250GP at Phillip Island in Australia in 2005.



In winning round 10 of the 2015 FIM Road Racing World Championship at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, USA, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez handed Honda its 700th grand prix win.


At the start of the Indianapolis race weekend, Honda had 698 grand prix wins to its name. 

Then 18-year-old Belgian Livio Loi gambled on starting the Moto3 race on slicks despite the fact light rain was falling.  From 10th at the end of the opening lap, Loi was up to fourth place a lap later and he put his RW Racing GP Honda NSF250R into the lead on the third lap as those who had started on wet tyres were forced to pit as the track dried.

From there to the end Loi kept his Honda out front and won by a convincing 38.8 seconds over Englishman John McPhee, also on a Honda.

So that was GP win number 699 for Honda.

Marc Marquez made it a nice round 700 when he stole the win in the MotoGP race from Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo with three laps remaining.

The Honda Grand Prix story begins back in 1954 when company founder Soichiro Honda declared his intention to enter the premier motorcycle race event of the time, the Isle of Man TT.

His aim:  to “realize the dream of becoming the world’s best.” 

After five years developing a racing machine, Honda became the first Japanese motorcycle manufacturer to enter the Isle of Man TT race, the Ultra-Lightweight (125cc) TT in 1959.

The Honda team that contested the 1959 Isle of Man TT.

In his 1954 declaration, Soichiro Honda had stated that to perform at world level, an engine had to produce 100 horsepower per litre. But at the Isle of Man TT race in June that year, the German NSU company's 125cc machine made 15hp and its 250cc machine made 35hp, nearly 150hp per litre.  Visiting the race, Soichiro Honda was shocked by this, and realized how difficult it would be to win a world class race. 

Undaunted, Honda began its journey to winning the Isle of Man TT by competing in Japanese races, which were beginning to gain popularity.  Honda viewed these races as testing grounds for bike performance, and began the development of precision ultra high-revving engines, aiming to realize high output and solid reliability.

The Honda RC142 - Honda's 1959 125 GP machine on which Naomi Taniguchi scored the company's first world championship point.


The records show that when Honda eventually made it to the Isle of Man in 1959, Japanese Honda rider Naomi Taniguchi was the first Honda rider home in the 125 race, finishing sixth, seven minutes behind race winner Tarquinio Provini's single cylinder MV Agusta.

The following year Honda began competing in the 125cc and 250cc classes of the FIM Road Racing World Championship and in 1961, Australian Tom Phillis won the season-opening Spanish 125 Grand Prix, giving Honda its first step on the ladder towards those 700 GP wins.

Honda then expanded its racing activities into the 350cc and 50cc classes in 1962, and the 500cc class in 1966, and won the manufacturer's championship in all five classes in 1966.  At the time, Honda considered its racing activities to be a “laboratory on wheels,” and new technologies developed to win world championship races were applied to its production motorcycles.  With dramatically improved quality, the market had expanded its support for Honda’s motorcycles.  

Jim Redman (103) and Mike Hailwood (104) secured the manufacturer's championship for Honda in the 500cc class in 1966, with five wins from the nine races on the calendar.  However, Giacomo Agostini won the riders world championship on his MV Agusta that year.  It would not be until 1983 that a Honda rider would win the 500 crown.

At the end of the 1967 season, Honda withdrew from GP racing, with 138 grand prix wins to its name.

In 1979, Honda returned to FIM Road Racing World Championship racing in the 500cc class.  Three years later in 1982, American rider Freddie Spencer won Round 7 in Belgium on his Honda NS500, giving Honda its first victory since returning to world grand prix racing. 

Spencer would then go on to win the World 500 Championship the following year, becoming the first Honda rider to clinch a premier class world championship

Honda then went on to win grand prix races in the 125cc and 250cc classes, contributing to its 500th victory in 2001, when Italian rider Valentino Rossi was victorious in the 500cc class at the season-opening Japan Grand Prix. 

In 2005, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa rode his Honda RS250RW to victory in the 250cc class in Round 15 in Australia, marking Honda’s 600th grand prix win.

“I am proud of Honda’s 700th victory in the FIM Road Racing World Championship," said Takahiro Hachigo, President, CEO and Representative Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. after Marquez win at Indianapolis.

"This achievement could only have been realized through the countless number of people working together, and the support every fan has given for Honda’s racing activities.  I am deeply grateful to everyone for their contributions and support. Thank you very much.”


FOOTNOTE:
In counting its GP race wins, Honda makes no claim to the Moto2 class wins since 2010 as the entire class is raced with Honda engines.  In the Moto3 class, race wins in 2012 were also not included as Honda wins, in compliance with FIM regulations, as the registered constructor was FTR Honda (albeit powered by the NSF250R engine).