Back to Back SCORE Baja 500 Wins for Team Honda Racing Off-Road Ridgeline and First Ever Baja Podium for Honda Talon

Patience paid off for the Team Honda Racing Off-Road team in the long awaited 2020 SCORE Baja 500 held on September 26, with two podiums – Class 7 win/13th overall for the Honda Ridgeline and P2 in the Pro UTV Unlimited Class for Eliott Watson piloting the No. 1893 Honda Talon. The 496 mile race course started outside San Felipe and was a fast, fun combination of the infamous grueling San Felipe whoops, rocks, and dry lake beds.

The No. 7209 Honda Ridgeline had a good day in Baja despite a challenging race start. Jeff Proctor, with Evan Weller navigating, had to drive through numerous classes, in blinding dust, methodically working their way through the field, finally getting a breather around RM 80. Weller recounts, “We had a fast truck and started behind a lot of slower vehicles. We put our heads down and did the work to get around them. We came into our first scheduled pit stop at RM 160 with an 80 mile lead over P2 in class. We cleared the pack around RM 190 and Jeff got in his Baja happy place and attacked the fun, fast course taking us to the driver change at RM 360. We saw only one other truck on the course in that stretch.”

“It was another great Baja 500 for us.” says Team Principal and Ridgeline starting driver, Jeff Proctor, “We’ve had a challenging year to date, chasing little mechanicals, including vapor lock problems at Vegas to Reno. We learned a lot coming out of that high heat race and made adjustments for this one. And it paid off. The Honda Rigdeline felt great all day – through the relentless whoops and the high speed sections – I was able to open it up and let it dance across the desert.”

Proctor continues, “Evan and I got the truck to Patrick Dailey at RM 360 with a huge gap in the action – he just needed to set the cruise control and execute flawlessly – which he did, as always.”

With an official time of 10:19:24, the Honda Ridgeline team earned P1 in class 7 and 13th overall, over two hours ahead of P2. It’s their highest overall finish in Baja.

Like Vegas to Reno, it was a tale of two Talons for the No. 1893, piloted by Eliott Watson and the No. 1894, driven by Christopher Polvoorde, but the roles were reversed. This time out Polvoorde was out early with a mechanical, while Watson finished the race in P2 in the Pro UTV Unlimited Class with a time of 15:04:12.

Proctor shares his thoughts on the Talon program, “The Talons were well prepared and dialed-in, and we felt great coming into this race – even in a development year. It was the Talons first Baja race, to have a finish is an accomplishment, but to have Eliott bring a home podium, is something to celebrate. He ran a perfectly executed race – consistent, minimized downtime, and had zero mechanicals. I’m really happy for the Honda Powersports program – they had a great day with Mark Samuels earning the overall on two-wheels and Eliott 2nd in class.”

Eliott Watson recaps his race, “Overall I’m very happy with how our day went. We came in with the mentality to run conservative, to make it to the finish, and our strategy paid off. My navigator, Quintin Tucker, and I got into a good rhythm early, and handed the car off to Bud Ward and Brian Weatherly at RM 240. They kept the pace that we started and gave Quintin and I an awesome car at mile 360. From there, we kept moving forward into the night to bring the Talon it’s first finish in Baja with a 2nd place.”

Proctor continues, “Overall, we’ve learned a lot from the past two races that will apply nicely as we get ready for the 1000. It’s coming together quickly and we’re ready for another Baja race.

Watson finishes, “To top the day off, we were able to take lots of notes during the race on things we can work on to be prepared for the Baja 1000. We really want to get both Honda Talons up on the box, and I think we are in a very good spot to do so.”

With just a week in the shop turnaround, up next for the Talons are the UTV World Championships, October 8 – 10, in Lake Havasu, AZ. Then all three teams head to Baja for testing, pre-running, and racing the Baja 1000, starting in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico on November 20th.

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.