|Dakar Rally 2013: A "One hundred per cent finish" for Team Honda HRC.|
After having covered 8,420 kilometres on all kinds of terrain throughout 14 hard stages, from Peru to Chile passing through Argentina, Helder Rodrigues, Javier Pizzolito and Johnny Campbell finished today’s final stage reaching the target: Santiago.
The protagonists of the 2013 Dakar had to maintain their concentration for the very last 346 km of a fast stage on stony and hard ground. Only 53 seconds separated Helder Rodrigues, fourth, from stage winner Chaleco Lopez who finished ahead of Faria and Barreda.
With Javier Pizzolito,15th and Johnny Campbell 21st, Team HRC celebrated two riders in the top ten overall with Rodrigues and Pizzolito in 7th and 8th place respectively and Johnny Campbell 40th, while Cyril Despres sealed his fifth Dakar title.
?Having the complete team at the end of the toughest rally in the world was the result of perfect team work with the three Team HRC riders, helping and supporting each other, stage after stage.
When the project started six months ago, the challenge was to be at the starting blocks in Lima with a completely new team and a new machine. Team HRC engineers worked very hard to prepare a competitive machine and on the 5th of January Helder Rodrigues, Javier Pizzolito and Johnny Campbell set off for the 2013 Dakar on board of their CRF 450 Rally.
In a race where a navigation mistake or a small mechanical failure can spoil the whole result, some fuel issues on the second and third days made Team HRC riders lose valuable time and the contact with the first riders. Despite that, Helder Rodrigues, Javier Pizzolito and Johnny Campbell continued to fight and recover positions.
Rodrigues was ready to attack on stage 11 to close the gap from the front runners, when a branch caught a wire of the machine, ripping it out and stopping his machine. It was a small problem that had big consequences as Helder had given an incredible performance that would have allowed him to make a big step forward towards the podium.
Team mate Pizzolito gave also a great performance. Javier was very good at preserving the machine and his condition, riding with a constant pace throughout the whole rally on the same engine.
Johnny Campbell couldn’t take advantage of his experience due to a mechanical problem on the third stage that made him lose more than 3 hours, but he scored the team’s best result with a great second place on the 8th stage. Unfortunately a crash the following day compromised his second part of the race, but Johnny continued until the end despite the intense pain from suspected broken ribs.
Helder Rodrigues, 7th overall: "It was a great challenge and an honour for me to be part of this project and bear the Honda colours on the Dakar. I cannot be happy with my results in terms of my final position because with this team and this machine we had the potential to fight for the podium, but we don't have to forget that this is a young project and we couldn’t test as much as we would have liked."
"We had some bad luck and also some fuel issues on the second and third stage that spoiled our result but the team has worked hard and the bike has improved a lot stage after stage. I’m very satisfied that we are all here in Santiago and that the team is very motivated to continue this experience."
Javier Pizzolito, 8th overall: "I’m very satisfied to have finished the Dakar and even happier of the 8th position in the overall classification. After last year unlucky incident where I suffered from a broken femur and elbow, I had to train very hard to prepare this year event. The machine proved to be really reliable as I rode the whole event with one engine. We are very excited and motivated to continue this amazing project."
Johnny Campbell, 40th overall: "This is a brand new team we worked very hard together to get to the finish. Dakar Rally is about keeping the body and the bike together, it was very hard for me after the crash on the 8th stage. It was challenging and hard at the same time, for me to return to racing after 5 years out and to finish this tough rally you need a 100% dedicated preparation. It was a dream come true to race the Dakar with this team and help with bike development."
Katsumi Yamazaki, Team HRC Director: "We reached our first target which was to have all the machines get to the end of the rally. It’s the result of great team work, everyone in the team has contributed with a common target in mind. It’s a young project and with 6 months of work we never expected to win, even if we hoped for it, and we have fought hard to get the best possible result.
"We have faced several issues during the rally and fixed them. In a very competitive race with strong rivals and 14 demanding stages, we have gained an incredible amount of data and experience that will be extremely useful to continue the development of the CRF 450 Rally to return stronger and make a bike capable of winning in 2014. I want to thank Helder, Javier and Johnny, the team members and all our sponsors and partners for their great work and support."
2013/01/21 | 20:45 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/HRC