Ridgeline Baja Race Truck Continues Baja Podium Success
11/20/2017 1:56:00 AM
- Honda Racing Ridgeline team scores fourth Baja podium result
- Finishes second in class at 50th running of the Baja 1000
- Johnson Racing effort completes podium for Honda with third-place run
The Honda Racing Ridgeline Team once again proved to be "Baja Strong" in the 50th running of the classic Baja 1000 off-road race from Ensenada to La Pax, Mexico, leading their class multiple times and finishing second, the fourth podium finish for the Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck in five Baja races.
Following the Honda Racing Ridgeline Team to the checkers in La Paz was a second Ridgeline effort, including Mark Johnson, Norris Brown, Alan Roach and Mike Mitchell. Their third-place result gave Honda two of the three podium positions in the Open Production Mini Truck class.
Starting seventh in class, Jeff Proctor and navigator Evan Weller progressed through the field in the opening segment, taking the lead for the first time at the 75-mile mark. Falling back to second after replacing a drive shaft, the Ridgeline duo regained the lead after the team's first scheduled pit stop in San Felipe.
Proctor and Weller had built the Ridgeline's class lead to an impressive 40-mintes by the time of the second scheduled pit stop, when Eric Hardin took over the controls. Hardin continued in the lead through the night until, just outside of race mile 801, the Ridgeline became deeply buried in one of the notorious Baja desert silt beds. Manually digging the truck out of the silt cost the team two hours and dropped the Ridgeline to third in class.
Once back on course, Hardin handed the Ridgeline over to veteran Johnny Campbell for the final stint of the race. Campbell, a 11-time Baja 1000 champion on Honda motorcycles, began to run down the leaders, moving into second place during the final 100 miles of the 1,134-mile event.
"There just wasn't enough time to reel in the first-place truck. We were fast all day and had the speed to win," said team owner/driver Proctor. "Baja is brutal, and anything can happen in a race of this length. The entire Honda crew never gave up all day and executed flawless pit stops and repairs for well over 40 hours. The team put in a herculean effort to get the Ridgeline to the finish of the longest point to point off road race in the world."
This weekend's second-place result adds to the legacy of Baja success for the Ridgeline Baja Race truck, which includes a debut class win in the 2015 Baja 1000, a second class win in the 2016 Baja 500 and a third-place run in this year's Baja 500.
"I've never raced a truck this far before, so it was a good experience for me," Campbell said. "I came down with my brother and pre-ran for the week. We tried to make good decisions [while racing] in the silt [beds]. In the big 'whups' we had to slow down and try to catch back up. Finishing any Baja 1000 is a big deal. You know you're going to have some hardships along the way. I was blessed to come down here again, this time on four wheels instead of two. The 50th Baja 1000 was a personal goal, so I wanted to participate in some capacity."
Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by Honda Performance Development, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas' Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, which was also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas. Key design cues drawn from the 2017 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile.
Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD's 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline. Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.
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