Back in 1954, Soichiro Honda – Honda’s founder – made a bold move. Under the aim to “realize the dream of becoming the world’s best,” Soichiro entered a 250cc motorcycle into the Isle of Man TT.“I will fabricate a 250cc racer for this race, and as the representative of our Honda Motor Co., I will send it out into the spotlight of the world,” Soichiro said the staff at Honda just five years after the Japanese manufacturer opened its doors.
Honda became the first Japanese manufacturer to enter the Isle of Man TT, and the following year it entered Grand Prix racing in the 125cc and 250cc classes. After a year of tuning, Honda earned its first Grand Prix win – the 1961 season-opening Spanish Grand Prix. The victory went to the Australian Tom Phillis, who piloted his Honda RC143 to the win in the 125cc class.Fast forward to 2015, and Honda has now earned 700 Grand Prix victories *. The 700th arrived Sunday during the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix with two-time MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez at the controls of the RC213V.Ahead of the Indy MotoGP, Honda has claimed 698 wins. But 699 arrived after Livio Loi took first aboard the RW Racing GP Honda NSF250RW – Loi also became the first Belgian rider to ever win a GP race. The Honda Grand Prix wins list grew to 700 when Marquez earned his third-race win in 10 rounds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Takahiro Hachigo, President, CEO and Representative Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd, says “I am proud of Honda’s 700th victory in the FIM Road Racing World Championship. This achievement could only have been realized through the countless number of people working together, and the support every fan has given for Honda’s racing activities. I am deeply grateful to everyone for their contributions and support. Thank you very much.”
Honda Grand Prix Wins – A Brief History (courtesy of Honda):
Following Honda’s win debut 125cc GP win in 1961, Honda then forayed into the 350cc and 50cc classes in 1962, and the 500cc class in 1966, and won the championship in all five classes in 1966. At the time, Honda considered its racing activities to be a “laboratory on wheels,” and new technologies developed to win world championship races were applied to its production motorcycles.With dramatically improved quality, the market had expanded its support for Honda’s motorcycles. At the end of the 1967 season, Honda had paused its factory racing activities, which were to be restarted 11 years later, with 138 grand prix wins.In 1979, Honda returned to FIM Road Racing World Championship racing in the 500cc class. Three years later in 1982, American rider Freddie Spencer won Round 7 in Belgium on his Honda NS500, giving Honda its first victory since returning to world grand prix racing. Honda then went on to win grand prix races in the 125cc and 250cc classes, contributing to its 500th victory in 2001, when Italian rider Valentino Rossi was victorious in the 500cc class at the season-opening Japan Grand Prix. In 2005, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa rode his Honda RS250RW to victory in the 250cc class in Round 15 in Australia, marking Honda’s 600th grand prix win.* Number of Honda Grand Prix wins counted by Honda based on FIM records
Moto2 class wins since 2010 are not included in the total number of Honda Grand Prix wins, as the entire class is raced with Honda engines
Moto3 class wins in 2012 are not included as Honda Grand Prix wins, in compliance with FIM regulations, as the registered constructor was FTR Honda (albeit powered by the NSF250R engine)
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.