Message from Yoshishige Nomura, HRC President
“I began my career in Honda R&D engine design in 1985, working on the NR, RC30 and RC45. In 1994, I moved to HRC where I spent eight years as the Engine Project Leader of the RVF and RVT, and also worked on the RC211V as Engine Technical Manager.
I have been working for many years in HRC and seen many achievements; however, last season success was unprecedented with an amazing performance in MotoGP, MXGP and Trial where three great champions (Marc Marquez, Tim Gajser and Toni Bou) got the crown.
But our sport never stops! We hope that 2017 gives us the same feelings and successes. There is much to look forward to. I’d like to thank everyone at Honda and HRC, all our sponsors, technical partners and media associates for the essential on-going support. I’d also like to thank you, the fans, for joining us on this ride, sharing in the successes of Honda and HRC.
On this site, across our many disciplines, I hope we can share with you our HRC philosophy of true passion and enjoyment for motorcycle racing. I welcome you to join us on exciting journey which I hope will bring even more enjoyment to us all.”
Managing Director of Honda R&D Co., Ltd
Racing has always been at the heart of Honda; indeed racing is Honda’s very DNA.
From the very beginning, company founder Soichiro Honda insisted that his engineers prove the company’s engineering capabilities and accelerate development by testing their creations in the heat of competition. It has always been thus, from Honda’s very first Model A to the current RC213V MotoGP weapon. As previous HRC president Masumi Hamane says: “A racing motorcycle is a rolling laboratory that provides us with live information and the racetrack is the stage where our dreams come true.” Initially, Honda’s racing efforts were run from within the Honda Motor Company, but in the early 1970s RSC (Racing Service Center) was established as a separate company to look after the company’s racing programme. On September 1st 1982 the Honda Racing Corporation was founded, its mission: the development, manufacture and sales of motorcycles and parts for racing. Since then HRC has become a byword for high-performance engineering, excellence and winning performance.
On 1st September Honda Racing Corporation replaced RSC, which was established as a separate entity from Honda Motor Co. Ltd in 1973, and the NR technology group with legendary engineer Shoichiro Irimajiri as the first HRC president. The NS500 triple was unleashed with Freddie Spencer winning Honda’s first two-stroke Grand Prix victory aboard the NS at July’s Belgium GP. Winning came naturally with Cyril Nevue taking Honda’s first Paris-Dakar victory, Eddy Lejeune winning his first World Trials Championship with a Honda RTL360 and Shigeo Ijima, Shinji Hagiwara and the CB900F winning the Suzuka Eight Hours (shortened to six hours due to a typhoon). Pro-link rear suspension and cartridge fork were also developed in motocross.
The wondrously talented Freddie Spencer won Honda’s first 500 World Championship with the NS500, a beautifully balanced motorcycle that encapsulates HRC’s philosophy of creating machines that deliver all-round performance. The NS500 also benefitted from the development of the ATAC exhaust system. Success was also seen with the RS850R V4 four-stroke with, King of the Roads, Joey Dunlop winning Honda’s fourth title in the road-based TTF1 World Championship. In this year, sales of the RS500 GP production racer (based on the NS500) began and Hiroyuki Yoshino succeeded Irimajiri as HRC President.
The awesomely fast single-crank V4 NSR500, with experimental underslung fuel tank, made its debut in the 500 World Championship, where an injury-hit Freddie Spencer took fourth place overall. Honda’s four-stroke genius was further seen with the RS750R when Gerard Coudray and Patrick Igoa won the World Endurance crown, Mike Baldwin and Fred Merkel took the victory at Suzuka Eight Hours and Joey Dunlop collected the TTF1 crown. Also in this year, Andre Malherbe won his second 500 Motocross World Championship, Eddy Lejeune completed a hat-trick of World Trials Championships and Ricky Graham won Honda’s first US Grand National dirt track title.
Freddie Spencer and Honda enjoyed their greatest year together, taking a unique 250/500 World Championship double with the NSR500 and the new NSR250 V-twin. For good measure, Spencer won the Daytona 200 aboard a VF750F superbike. The stunning new RVF750 took the Endurance crown at the hands of Gerard Coudray and Patrick Igoa, the TTF1 title with Joey Dunlop and the Suzuka Eight Hours with Wayne Gardner and Masaki Tokuno. Mike Baldwin and Honda also won their fourth US F1 title in a row, while Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana inspected the HRC race bikes during an official visit to the newly built Honda Motor HQ in Aoyama, Tokyo. This year also saw Isamu Goto appointed as HRC president.
The RVF750, now with a single-sided swingarm, won the Endurance World title with Patrick Igoa and the Suzuka Eight Hours with Gardner and Dominique Sarron. Honda monopolised the top three places in the 500 MX Championship with Briton David Thorpe winning his second consecutive title; while tough Aussie, Wayne Gardner, took the Baton from the injured Freddie Spencer to take second place in the 500 World Championship with the NSR500. Over in America, VRF750 rider Fred Merkel completed a hat-trick of US Superbike crowns.
GP racing in 1987 was dominated by Honda two-stroke technology with Wayne Gardner winning seven 500 GPs to take the 500 title and the German veteran Toni Mang taking the 250 crown with his NSR250. Other victories were seen both on and off-road with, the then, up-and-coming Californian talent Wayne Rainey winning the US Superbike crown and Daytona 200 with the VRF750, Eric Geboers scored Honda’s first 250 MX world success and dirt track legend Bubba Shobert completed a hat-trick of US Grand National dirt track crowns with the RS750D. Le Mans 24 Hours saw the hi-tech NR750, featuring oval pistons, score pole position. It was in this year that the computer-controlled variable exhaust valve was developed and Takeo Fukui became the new President of HRC.
In 1988, Honda returned to 125 GP racing with the RS125, a low-cost two-stroke where Ezio Gianola won two GPs on the RS and finished second in the 125 World Championship. Spanish hero Sito Pons won the first of two successive 250 World Titles with the NSR250 while the inaugural World Superbike title was won by the big-talking American Fred Merkel aboard the RC30, Honda’s hugely acclaimed V4 superbike. The RC30 was also responsible for British privateer Carl Fogarty’s TTF1 crown. Freddie Spencer finished a close second in the 500 GP championship while in the off-road sector, Eric Geboers and Jean-Michel Bayle walked away with double MX titles with 500 and 125 successes. HRC began development of the electronically controlled two-stroke fuel injection system. Katsumi Ichida replaced Fukui as HRC President.
In his first year with Honda, the master of smoothness, Eddie Lawson rode away with the 500 World Championship on his NSR500. In the 250 Championship, Honda won their tenth Constructors World Championship. Merkel and Fogarty with their RC30s repeated their World Superbike and TTF1 titles. The RC30 also saw success in America where Privateer John Ashmead won the Daytona 200. Honda proved to be strong in Endurance Championships with Frenchmen Dominque Sarron and Alex Vieira winning the Suzuka Eight Hours on the RVF750 while Gilles Lalay put the NXR750 through the most gruelling of conditions to win Honda’s fourth consecutive Paris-Dakar race. Jean-Michel Bayle and David Thorpe won the 250 and 500 MX titles. Takeo Fukui began his second term as HRC President.
Seventeen-year-old debutant Loris Capirossi won Honda’s first two-stroke 125 World Championship on an RS125R, the first of two back-to-back title successes for the little Italian. Alex Vieira, Jean-Michel Mattioli and Stephane Mertens won Honda’s sixth consecutive victory in the hugely popular Bol d’Or 24 hours, aboard the RVF750. Eric Geboers won his second 500 MX title with Honda while, in America, Jeff Stanton and the CR250 won the second of their three US Supercross championships. Aussie veteran Malcolm Campbell won his second consecutive Australian Superbike title aboard the RC30.
Luca Cadalora joined Honda and, in his first year, won the 250 World Title aboard the NSR250, Honda’s tenth 250 riders’ crown. The RVF750 claimed another win at the Suzuka Eight Hours with riders Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan. Motocross and Supercross were dominated by Honda two-stroke technology with George Jobe winning the 500 MX World Title, Trampas Parker winning the World 250 crown and Jean-Michel Bayle, who moved to America, winning the US Supercross title with the CR250 and the US Motocross Championship with the CR500. The RC30 also impressed the Americans with another win at the Daytona 200, this time at the hands of Miguel Duhamel. 1991 also saw the NR750 streetbike enter production.
HRC’s newest star Mick Doohan dominated the 500 World Championship with the new ‘big bang’ configuration NSR500 but lost the title due to injury. Despite this, Honda still won the 500 Constructors’ World Championship. The Italian Luca Cadalora won his second consecutive 250 World Championship while Australian GP riders Daryl Beattie and Wayne Gardner took another victory for Honda at the Suzuka Eight Hours with the RVF750. Off-road rider Greg Albertyn (CR125) walked away from 1992 with the 125 MX laurels. Takashi Shinozaki became HRC President.
At the German GP, Hockenheim, a Honda fuel-injected NSR500 broke the 200mph barrier, in the hands of Shinichi Itoh. The 125 World Championship was won by the diminutive German Dirk Raudies aboard the RS125R. 11 years after his first title success, Ricky Graham won the US Grand National Crown. Motocross was dominated by the CR250 with Greg Albertyn taking the 250 MX title, Doug Henry scoring the first of back-to-back US 250 MX championships and Jeremy McGrath winning the 250 US Supercross series.
1994 saw Mick Doohan win the first of five consecutive 500 World Championships with his NSR500 with Honda also winning the constructors’ title for seventh time. Honda’s tenth Suzuka Eight Hours win was taken by, New Zealander, Aaron Slight and, American, Doug Polen aboard the new RC45 Superbike, the latest product of HRC V4 technology. Honda also won its tenth 125 Constructors World Championship. While Jeremy McGrath continued his domination of 250 US Supercross, the 500 MX World Championship was won by the Swede Marcus Hansson. Suguru Kanazawa was appointed as Managing Director of HRC.
The RC45 four-stroke scored more major international successes with Belgian Stephane Mertens and Frenchman Jean-Michel Mattioli winning the World Endurance Championship, Miguel Duhamel taking the US Superbike title and Aaron Slight and Tadayuki Okada winning the Suzuka Eight Hours. Haruchika Aoki scored the first of back-to-back 125 World Championships aboard the Honda RS125; Alessandro Puzar won the 125 MX crown.
The top four places in the 500 World Championship were taken by Mick Doohan, Alex Criville, Luca Cadalora and Alex Barros; with the NSR500 winning 13 out of the 15 GPs. The 125 title was taken by Haruchika Aoki. Honda and Miguel Duhamel claimed another win at the Daytona 200 with the RC45 while Tadayuki Okada, riding the NSR500V twin, scored pole position on his GP debut. The CR250 saw great success with Stefan Everts riding it to the first of two back-to-back 250 MX World Championships. Honda’s unique run of success in US Supercross was extended to nine consecutive crowns when Jeremy McGrath rode the CR250 to his fourth Supercross title in a row.
1997 saw Mick Doohan take his fourth 500 title with the NSR500 monopolising the top four places in the series; Doohan, Tadayuki Okada, Nobuatsu Aoki, Alex Criville and Takuma Aoki fifth on the NSR 500V twin. The NSR500 also had the honour of winning all 15 GPs, winning Honda their tenth premier class Constructors World Championship. This year saw Max Biaggi join Honda and win the 250 title on the NSR250. The RC45 continued to dominate four-stroke racing with John Kocinski winning the World Superbike crown and Japanese stars Shinichi Itoh and Toru Ukawa winning the Suzuka Eight Hours. It was in this year that the production version of the NSR500V went on sale.
Led once again by the mighty Mick Doohan, NSR500 riders dominated the 500 World Championship with the top five places in the points chase. HRC also introduced the twin crank NSR250 which Toru Ukawa rode to fourth place in the 250 World Championship. There was yet more success for the RC45 with Doug Polen and Christian Laveille winning the World Endurance Championship, Shinichi Itoh and Toru Ukawa scored their second successive Suzuka Eight Hours and Ben Bostrom took the US Superbike championship. Yasuo Ikenoya took over as the new President of HRC.
Following Mick Doohan’s injury-led exit from the sport, the quietly spoken Spaniard Alex Criville took up where the Australian left off, winning Honda’s tenth riders’ 500 World Championship with the NSR500. Honda won their tenth 125 riders’ Championship when Emilio Alzamora won on the RS125R. The Suzuka Eight Hours was once again won by Honda machinery (RC45), this time at the hands of Tadayuki Okada and Alex Barros. The RC45 also continued its success with Miguel Duhamel at the Daytona 200.
In 2000 Honda launched its first big twin supersport bike, the VTR1000, which Colin Edwards took to a debut victory in the World Superbike Championship. This year, it was the VTR1000SPW that won the Suzuka Eight Hours with Toru Ukawa and Daijiro Kata. Premier-class debutant Valentino Rossi joined Honda and finished second in the 500 World Championship with the NSR500. This was also a successful year for off-road events with Frederic Bolley winning his second consecutive 250 MX World Title on the CR250R and Dougie Lampkin winning the first of four back-to-back Trials World Championships.
GP racing’s 500 era was ended with Valentino Rossi winning the final 500 World Championship aboard the NSR500. The Italian superstar also won Honda’s 500th GP victory (Japan) and the Suzuka Eight Hours with Colin Edwards and the VTR1000SPW. Major Japanese talent Daijiro Kato, with the NSR250 won, the 250 World Championship. The new RC211V MotoGP machine was seen in public for the first time when Honda legends Mick Doohan and Freddie Spencer rode it at Motegi.
The inaugural MotoGP Title was won by Valentino Rossi aboard HRC’s acclaimed RC211V; the Constructors World Championship was also Honda’s, by a large margin. The V5 – which took motorcycle-racing technology to a whole new level – won all but two of the sixteen GPs. Colin Edwards took his second World Superbike Championship aboard the VTR1000SPW as well as another Suzuka Eight Hours success with Daijiro Kato. The VTR also saw success in America with, the then up-and-coming talent, Nicky Hayden who took the US Superbike Title and the Daytona 200 victory. It was in this year that Honda’s first World Supersport Title was won by Frenchman Fabien Foret aboard the CBR600R. Suguru Kanazawa was appointed as HRC President.
The MotoGP World Championship was once again dominated by the RC211V (equipped with a rotary steering damper), which won 15 of the 16 races. Valentino Rossi once again took the riders title, ahead of fellow RC211V riders Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi. Dani Pedrosa won his first World Title in the 125 class aboard the RS125R. The World Supersport Title was won by the new CBR600RR, packed with HRC-derived MotoGP technology, at the hands of Chris Vermeulen. Miguel Duhamel won another Daytona 200 while Yukio Nukumi and Manabu Kamada gave the VTR1000SPW its fourth consecutive Suzuka Eight Hours victory. Ricky Carmichael won his second consecutive US Supercross championship on the CR250.
2004 saw Honda complete a hat-trick of MotoGP Constructors World Championships with the RC211V, now equipped with the Intelligent Throttle Control system. Dani Pedrosa won the 250 World Championship at his first attempt aboard the RS250RW; the 125 Championship was taken by the Italian youngster Andrea Dovizioso on the RS125R. Suzuka Eight Hours success came from the inline-four CBR1000RR Fireblade piloted by Toru Ukawa and Hitoyasu Izutsu. The Australian Karl Muggeridge won the Supersport World Title on the CBR600RR and Takahisa Fujinami won the Trials World Championship. Satoru Horiike was appointed as Managing Director of HRC.
Dani Pedrosa won his second consecutive 250 World Championship in 2005, which gave Honda their 15th 250 riders Championship and 19th 250 Constructors Title. The 125 World Championship was won by Thomas Luthi aboard the RS125R. Toru Ukawa and Ryuichi Kiyonari, with the CBR1000RR, achieved Honda’s 20th Suzuka Eight Hours victory. The CBR600RR continued to dominate middleweight supersport racing with Sebastien Charpentier taking the Supersport World Title and Miguel Duhamel earning Honda’s tenth Daytona 200 win.
Nicky Hayden won the final 990cc MotoGP Title aboard the new generation RC211V, which used a lighter and more powerful V5 engine. The ‘Kentucky Kid’ also won Honda’s 200th premier-class victory at the Dutch TT; this was Honda’s 14th premier-class riders’ Title and 17th Constructors Title. During MotoGP’s five-year 990cc era, the V5 won an astonishing 58% of the races. Another celebration was seen at the Sachsenring when Yuki Takahashi secured Honda’s double-century of 250cc class victories. It was another great year for the CBR600RR with Sebastien Charpentier taking his second successive Supersport world title and Jake Zemke winning the Daytona 200. Takeshi Tsujimura and Shinichi Itoh won Honda’s tenth Suzuka Eight Hours in a row with the CBR1000RR.
The new MotoGP technical rules reduced the engine capacity to 800cc, so HRC introduced the RC212V (800cc four-stroke V4). The Honda supported rider Toni Bou won his first indoor and outdoor Trial World Championship with the Honda supported Repsol Montesa team; a partnership that would go on to win many more titles. Masumi Hamane was appointed as President of HRC.
For the 2008 MotoGP season, Honda developed an all-new RC212V that featured a new engine with pneumatic valve springs, plus a new chassis and exhaust system. Toni Bou took both the indoor and outdoor Trial World Championships for the second year running.
23 year-old Andrea Dovizioso joined Honda for the 2009 MotoGP season, alongside the long-term Honda rider Dani Pedrosa. Toni Bou won his third indoor and outdoor Trial World Championship titles in a row. Tetsuo Suzuki replaced Masumi Hamane as President of HRC.
Honda developed the highly competitive RC212V by adding numerous improvements to the engine while a redesign of the chassis to match the engine characteristics helped efficiency. At the end of the 2010 MotoGP season, Dani Pedrosa walked away with second place in the riders’ championship. In this year Moto2 replaced the 250cc class and, for the first time in the 60-year history of World Grand Prix racing, a one-make engine rule was adopted; the engines chosen were those of Honda. Toni Bou continued his run of success in both the indoor and outdoor World Trials with a fourth consecutive year of titles in both.
2011 saw Casey Stoner make the move to the Honda team and comprehensively win the MotoGP championship with the RC212V, which had undergone a thorough review in pursuit of the optimal centre of gravity. The strength of the bike was further seen with Dovizioso’s third place and Pedrosa’s fourth in the riders’ championship securing the Constructors title for Honda. Toni Bou walked away from 2011 with five consecutive indoor and outdoor Trial World Championships.
In line with the regulation changes in MotoGP Honda developed the 1000cc RC213V, which earned them the Manufacturers championship with riders Pedrosa and Stoner finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Toni Bou and Honda’s success in both the indoor and outdoor Trial World Championships continued for a sixth year running.
Honda entered the history books in 2013 when new rookie rider Marc Marquez (riding the RCV213V) became the youngest premier class winner and the youngest premier class champion, a title previously held by former Honda rider Freddie Spencer. The RCV213V also gave Honda another MotoGP Constructors Championship title. It was in this year that HRC returned to the Dakar Rally as a works team, after an absence of 24 years, and entered three riders: Helder Rodrigues (Portugal), Javier Pizzolito (Argentina), and Johnny Campbell (U.S.). The CRF450 rally, which was designed specifically for rally racing, was a prototype based on the commercial competition model CRF450X enduro. Team HRC reached their primary target of all machines reaching the end of this incredibly tough and unforgiving event. There was more off-road success when Toni Bou took his seventh consecutive indoor and outdoor World Trial Championship titles.
2014 saw more history made when Marquez became the youngest person to win ten successive races in MotoGP; he also won the Riders’ Championship, for the second year running, and secured the Constructors Championship for Honda. Toni Bou also made history when he became the most decorated Trials rider with 16 consecutive World Titles, 8 indoor and 8 outdoor. Honda proved to be very strong in only their second year in the Cross Country Rally Championship, taking wins in 6 out of the 13 stages of the Dakar rally, Paulo Goncalves taking the overall win in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Joan Barreda taking overall victory in the Sealine Qatar Rally. Team HRC also made a return to the Motocross World Championship with the newly developed CRF450RW and riders Max Nagl and Evgeny Bobryshev. This year also saw HRC unveil two brand new prototypes in Milan at the EICMA show: The RC213V-S (a road legal version of Marquez’s winning MotoGP machine) and the True Adventure (inspired by Honda’s fantastic heritage in adventure motorcycling). After five years in the role, Tetsuo Suzuki was succeeded by Yoshishige Nomura as HRC President.