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Honda's new TRX450R Conquers Baja in its debut race

November 21, 2003

Honda's new TRX450R Conquers Baja in its debut race

Honda made its official return to ATV off-road racing by winning Class 25
(Open ATV) and taking first overall ATV at the 36th-annual Tecate SCORE
Baja 1000 with the brand-new, never-before-raced TRX450R. The
come-from-behind win over several larger-displacement machines was backed
up by a second TRX450R ridden to fourth place despite an early race crash
that left the rider with a broken collarbone-though he managed to nurse the
damaged bike and himself 20 miles to the next pit.

The winning team consisted of veteran racers Poncho Castro, Doug Eichner,
Tim Farr (Honda's official factory-supported ATV racer for 2004), John
Gregory and Marc Spaeth, who covered the 808-mile course in 18 hours, 27
minutes, 34 seconds, at an average speed of 43.78 miles per hour. That was
quick enough to earn them 16th overall vehicle of the 272 original
starters, and put a whopping 53 minutes between them and the second-place
team. Scott Callen, Shane Hitt, Alberto Marquez and Danny Rudd comprised
the riders of the fourth-place ATV, finishing in 20:45:48 on the second
TRX450R. After Callen's injury, Rudd rode the last half of the race, and
felt the effects afterward of what was considered the toughest, most
technical Baja 1000 ever. Besides tight, rocky sections, competitors faced
conditions that ranged from hot, dusty and dry to cold, foggy and even
rainy. Of the 272 starters, just 153 finished.

This marked the second consecutive victory for a factory-backed Honda ATV
in the 1000 after last year's rather surprising 1-3 finish by a pair of
virtually stock Rincon sport-utility quads. Unlike last year, however, the
pair of TRX450s was widely expected to vie for the win this time.

"The main purpose of racing the 1000 with the new bikes is to confirm the
base performance for this product," Honda R&D Chief Engineer Hajime Shogase
said before the race. To that end, both 450s were only very slightly
modified-a different carburetor and exhaust, dialed-in stock suspension,
taller seat and aftermarket wheels with Baja-oriented tires being the
notable changes. "Basically, every rider on the two teams was happy with
the suspension setting change, and they loved the power!" Shogase reported.

Though they drew the 12th starting position, the eventual winners were in
third place unofficially by the time they reached Valle de Trinidad about
110 miles into the race. They continued to hunt down the front-runners
until Spaeth caught up to the lead ATV about halfway into the race and saw
the leader crash in a silt bed. Seeing that, Spaeth veered to the left but
also hit something and tumbled into the powder. However, he got the Honda
restarted before the other rider and sped by. That essentially ended the
race as the TRX450R simply pulled away in the last half.

"The bike worked awesome!" Spaeth exclaimed. "The only thing I had a little
bit of trouble with was the helicopter-I've never had a helicopter over me
so it was a little bit intimidating having somebody watching you."

"Everything went smooth," Farr said. "In the past, the teams I've ridden
for have just had a lot of problems-organization and bike problems have
always plagued the teams that I've been on. This year with Honda and Golden
West Cycle it was completely different."

"This bike is everything you could want in an ATV," said Eichner who took
the start and finish sections. "The powerband is very useful and very, very
easy to ride. The bike handles really well, and it's built like a
Honda-it's built good!"

Baja 1000 results, Class 25 (Open ATV)
1. Poncho Castro/Doug Eichner/Tim Farr/John Gregory/Marc Spaeth-Honda
2. Ruben Martin/Gilberto Santana-Bombardier DS650X-19:20:33
3. Carmen Cafro/Mike Cafro-Honda TRX400EX-20:29:47
4. Scott Callen/Shane Hitt/Alberto Marquez/Danny Rudd-Honda
5. Alex Croswaite/Antonio Espinoza-Yamaha YZ450-21:06:15