Team Honda Racing Off-Road Finds Success in a Brutal 2020 Vegas to Reno Race

Once again, the Honda Off-Road Factory race team met the brutal challenges of desert racing head-on in the 24th annual Best In The Desert Vegas to Reno, against a record-breaking field of entries. The team’s well-prepped Baja Ridgeline and Talons faced a variety of challenges over the race course’s 514 miles.

Jeff Proctor and Patrick Daily shared driving duties in the No. 7209 Ridgeline, with Evan Weller and Michael Loomis navigating. The truck qualified P1 in the limited race classes, but that didn’t mean clean air. The team started behind the 6100 class and fought their dust.

“It was one of those never-ending days of racing.” says Team Principal and Ridgeline starting driver, Jeff Proctor, “We had a fight to the finish in the Baja Ridgeline. We chased a few gremlins, but our team never gave-up. It was a race with all the desert variables in play. If it wasn’t the 100 miles of talcum powder like silt, it was vapor lock from the desert heat, or the super slick mud in the last 75 miles of the race. I’m so proud of our team. In typical Team Honda style, we rose to meet all the challenges. At the end of the race we finished P2, only 21* minutes behind the winner after almost two hours of downtime.”

It was a tale of two Talons for the No. 2933, piloted by Eliott Watson and the No. 2994, driven by Christopher Polvoorde. Watson was out around RM 200, while Polvoorde finished the race. By luck of a draw to determine start order, both started towards the back of the class. In the first 100 miles, they had the pace to pass and move up as many as 14 positions. Watson’s Talon encountered a “freak” mechanical issue that all the testing and prep wouldn’t have solved. According to Proctor, “It’s a simple fix, and part of the fun of new race builds.”

Watson recounts, “It was great to be back behind the wheel of the Talon this weekend. Although, the end result doesn’t show it, I felt that we had a really strong run going with no mistakes and making passes early on in the race. With all of the silt, rocks, and heat of the day that we had to deal with, we showed that the Talons are capable to run up in the front of the pack of UTVs in demanding conditions. Now it’s time to focus on getting the Talons ready for Baja for the first time.”

“Right off the start I saw a few opportunities and started picking off cars.” Polvoorde recalls his race day, “The dust was really bad, so any chance to get by someone, you had to take it. Once we got a solid track position I just cruised and started clicking off miles. Next thing we knew, we were third physically after starting 25th. Unfortunately at RM 290 we had a mechanical to deal with and we were down for about 2 hours. The team worked hard to get us back on course and we finished. Overall it was great to see see how fast these cars were without even pushing hard.” The No. 2994 Talon finished  the grueling race in P12* with a time of 15:37:51.

Jeff Proctor sums up the Talons’ race, “Vegas to Reno goes down as a success for the Talons. All the hard work paid off and we showed up – on-pace and on-point, as a team dedicated to the finish, no matter the adversity. A couple easy remedies and we’re ready for the next race.”

Up next for the Ridgeline and Talons is the SCORE Baja 500, starting in San Felipe, Baja, Mexico on September 26th.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.

Team Honda Racing Off-Road Take Advantage of Long Break and Ready for Vegas To Reno

After a long break from racing, the Honda Off-Road Factory race team is more than ready to take on the hot, Nevada desert in the 24th annual Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno, in a record breaking 383 field of entries. The team’s Baja Ridgeline and Talons will take on this year’s race course of 514 fast miles, gaining altitude through the brutal desert terrain; starting outside Las Vegas, NV on August 14th and ending in Reno, NV. In a time of COVID-19, BITD has worked diligently to implement local, state, and federal guidelines to promote safe and healthy practices during the race activities.

Never to sit still for long, the Honda Off-Road Factory Team, has taken advantage of the long break between races to continually refine and develop their already competitive equipment.

Jeff Proctor, Team Principal, recounts, “We came out of The Mint 400 and got to work. The longer than expected break meant we had time to chase down the details. We had time to test, refine, and test some more. We’re more than ready to get back to racing. And with all the hype and lots of entries, we’re expecting a very competitive race for the Ridgeline in Class 7 and the Talons in the Unlimited UTV class.”

Honda Talon drivers Christopher Polvoorde with navigator, Jimmy Davidson in No. 2994, and Eliott Watson with navigator, Quintin Tucker in No. 2933, plan to solo drive the 514 miles. Honda Ridgeline drivers Jeff Proctor and Patrick Dailey will share driving duties with Evan Weller navigating in No. 7209.

The “Longest Off-Road Race in the United States” is more than just long. It’s hot. The heat is something the drivers and navigators will have to manage for themselves and the vehicles through a steady altitude climb and deep sand washes. Summer desert conditions often mean no rain, and little wind – in off-road speak that means long stretches of blinding dust on a course that’s unforgiving outside the main race line – passing opportunities are limited. It will be a grueling test on drivers and machines.

Eliott Watson, driver of the No. 2933 Honda Talon, is ready, “I’m very thankful for everyone who contributed to getting our country in a healthy enough situation where we where we are able to go racing again. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a couple races in the past month, so I’m excited to get back in the swing of racing with the Honda team. Hopefully we have a mistake free day and are able to make it to the finish in a good spot!”

Christopher Polvoorde, Honda Talon No. 2994 driver, shares Watson’s outlook, “I’m super excited to get back in the Talons after a long break. I know the team as been working hard to get everything ready. This will be my first time racing V2R so I’m ready to learn a lot and have some fun.”

To follow the race, fans can follow on race day on Best In The Desert’s website https://bitd.com/live-tracking/ or by visiting RacingTrax. In addition, BITD will be posting a constant stream of posts from Time Trials and the race including extensive LiveStreams over Facebook of key action from the event. You can also follow the team on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.

Honda Off-Road Racing Team Takes On The Mint 400

Long touted, The Great American Off Road Race, The Mint 400, is also a notoriously rough course on equipment and drivers as hundreds of entries do their laps, making the race course ever-changing and unpredictable. The 2020 edition, held in the desert south of Las Vegas, NV, was the longest ever – 428 miles in four 107 mile long laps.

In their first Mint 400 race, the Honda Talon program, Christopher Polvoorde and navigator, Jimmy Davidson, started in the 22nd position, and Eliott Watson and navigator, Quintin Tucker, drew the coveted pole position for the Limited Race, UTV Pro Turbo Class of 42 very competitive entries, held on Friday, March 6.

The team entered the race with weeks of preparation and solid strategies. Each starting position had its own strategy for racing The Mint 400. The Watson driven, No. T903 Talon 1000R pole position meant pushing the driver and Talon harder to stay in the lead pack. Polvoorde’s No. T940 Talon strategy was to be less aggressive and focus on conserving the Talon for the decisive final lap, taking advantage of the inevitable attrition.

At the end of the day, both Talons were out of the race early due to mechanicals. Team principal, Jeff Proctor summed it up saying, “We’re still learning how all of our off-road experience fits into these capable Talons. We’ve made decisions, done the testing, worked with the best engineers, and we just didn’t see this coming. The Mint 400 wasn’t our race. It’s unfortunate that our results don’t reflect all the potential of the Honda Talon 1000R. We’ll adjust and come back stronger.”

Even so, the grandeur of the event wasn’t lost on Watson, “It was a rad experience getting to go through the Mint parade and do autograph signings throughout the day. When we were at the driver’s meeting and heard all of the people who put this race on I got the chills a little bit. All of the hard work that everyone at Honda has put in to get us out here for us to drive was insane.”

Results were better for the No. 709 Honda Ridgeline team, racing their 5th Mint 400 on Saturday, March 7, in the Unlimited Race with the larger horsepower, larger shod Unlimited Trucks, Class 1 and Baja Truck classes. Making the holes bigger and even more unpredictable for the Ridgeline drivers, Jeff Proctor and Pat Dailey and navigator, Evan Weller.

Race strategy had a major overhaul because of a last minute change in race format – shifting the Class 7 from the Limited Race to the Unlimited Race. Proctor said, “Starting behind the Unlimited Trucks is a big factor. They create lots of dust and holes. Our priority is to preserve the equipment and tires. The trucks expose rocks on an already rough course, and those rocks are hard on tires. It’s a race to the final lap and we have to make sure we have enough left to finish the race.”

Strategy paid off, the Honda Ridgeline finished the grueling race late into the night, with a time of 9:36:13, earning them a 2nd place position in Class 7. Per usual, results rarely reflect the racing drama and this race was no different.

Driver Patrick Dailey recounts, “This Honda Ridgeline was running great all day. Jeff and Evan set a great pace. Unfortunately about halfway into the 3rd lap, we had a suspension failure, which caused us to greatly reduce our pace. I jumped in the driver seat for the last lap and Michael Loomis replaced Evan in the navigator seat. We still had the lead at that point but wasn’t able to hang on with the slower pace we had to run. My main goal was just survival and get the truck to the finish line. The HPD engine ran perfect all day long. It was great to get back onto the podium with a 2nd place finish. We can’t wait for redemption at the Baja 500.”

Up next, for both programs is taking on the legendary diverse terrain of Northern Baja, Mexico in the 52nd Annual SCORE Baja 500, June 3 -7, 2020.

Honda Off-Road Racing Team Opens 2020 Season With Strong Qualifying Position in Friday’s Race

Coming off a two-year winning streak, the Honda Off-Road Racing Team and its Ridgeline Baja Race Truck opened the 2020 off-road racing season with a mountain of highs and one ultimate low of a DNF in the “7200” class for V6-powered race trucks in Friday’s Best in the Desert Parker 425.

Race week started out strong for the Ridgeline team, as the new race format brought a positive dimension. Best in the Desert added qualifying for the 7200 class and had two days of racing – Limited Classes on Friday, and Unlimited Classes on Saturday, meaning the 7200 class would miss the dust and big holes of the Trick Trucks. Jeff Proctor, Team Principal and driver, had a strong qualifying run earning first in class and second overall starting order – just 2.16 seconds behind the Class 10 / overall top qualifier.

“We’re used to the added challenge of battling dust and growing holes left by the Trick Trucks. And with our second on track position, it meant clean air and first on the road. The two laps I drove, were so much fun. Everything was running great, tires were holding up, our pits were smooth and fast, and we spent a lot of time in the lead. It was all going according to plan and I had hopes of an overall win for the day,” says Proctor.

The Best in the Desert Parker 425 race course is notoriously rough, and with a three lap format, it just gets rougher as the day progresses through the southwestern Arizona desert. Each lap presents competitors with wide-ranging conditions, from sand washes and rough rock sections to wide-open rally roads and with the dry weather comes dust, unlike 2019 that was held shortly after heavy rains.

Lap 3 was a scheduled driver change to long-time, accomplished desert racer and Team Manager, Pat Dailey. Navigator, Evan Weller, stayed in the Ridgeline after his two laps with Proctor.

“I knew from the time I got in, the truck wasn’t 100% and with lots of deep sand washes, we were asking the Ridgeline to work really hard,” recounts Dailey, “And just after RM 50 of Lap 3, we experienced a mechanical that ended our race. It’s the first time in three seasons of racing with the team that this has happened to me. It’s racing, it just wasn’t our day.”

Up next, is the legendary Mint 400 in March. Neither Proctor and Dailey were daunted by the weekend’s finish, both expressing how the Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is a strong contender.

Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by Honda Performance Development, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas. Key design cues drawn from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile.

Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD’s 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline.  Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.

Team Honda Racing Ridgeline efforts is made possible by strong support from Honda Racing / HPDGeneral TireKMC WheelsSTEEL-IT CoatingsGibson ExhaustBaja DesignsFOXMaxima Racing OilsRPI RacingPCI Race RadiosSparcoEibach SpringsMPI InnovationsJE REEL DrivelinePro Eagle.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.