Developed by Honda as a preview to the introduction of the new, second-generation Honda Ridgeline, the driving trio of Jeff Proctor, Sage Marie and Jason LaFortune piloted their Ridgeline Baja Race Truck to the Class 2 victory in this weekend's 48th running of the SCORE Baja 1000.
Built jointly by Honda Performance Development, the North American motorsports arm of American Honda, and the Proctor Racing Group, the tube-frame Unlimited Class 2 off-road Ridgeline Baja Race Truck made its competition debut at the brutal Baja event, which this year consisted of an 821-mile loop that started and finished in Ensenada, Mexico.
Less than half of the 239-competitor starting field finished this year's Baja event, as limited visibility due to fog and dust added to the usual challenges of high-speed desert crossings, technical, rocky mountain trails, silt beds, washes, ditches and jumps throughout the course.
Despite the obstacles and high attrition, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck ran trouble-free, completing the event in 25 hours, nine minutes and 47 seconds.
"The course was extremely tough today, and it seemed like Baja threw everything it could at us, but the Ridgeline ran flawlessly all day," said Proctor, driver and owner of Proctor Racing Group. "We couldn't be happier with how it performed on its maiden voyage."
Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by HPD, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas' Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the next-generation Honda Ridgeline, also being designed and developed by Honda R&D North America. 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 will power the all-new Ridgeline. Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.
Photos and information from the Honda Racing efforts at Baja can be viewed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Honda will introduce an all-new second-generation Ridgeline truck in the first half of 2016. Honda introduced the first-generation Ridgeline in 2005 as a 2006 model. The Ridgeline challenged conventional thinking in pickup truck design with its boxed frame uni-body design, offering superior driving dynamics, fuel efficiency and interior space, in combination with midsize pickup towing, hauling and off-road capabilities. It also introduced several industry-first features including a dual-action tailgate and lockable In-Bed Trunk. The Ridgeline captured both the 2006 North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend 2008 Truck of the Year and led all other midsize pickups in J.D. Power's APEAL study for three consecutive years.
Like the original, the next-generation Ridgeline is being designed and developed by Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama. The new Ridgeline will join an expanded lineup of Honda light trucks that includes the subcompact all-new 2016 HR-V crossover, the ever-popular Honda CR-V, America's best-selling SUV, and the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot, in contention for the 2016 North American Truck of the Year award. The Ridgeline will be followed by the launch of a completely redesigned Odyssey minivan in the second half of next year. All Honda light trucks are manufactured in North America, and all but the HR-V are produced exclusively in the U.S. at Honda's plants in Ohio and Alabama, using domestic and globally sourced parts.
Honda Baja Racing History
Honda has a long history of motorcycle race success at Baja, scoring two dozen victories, including 17 consecutive wins in the SCORE Baja 1000 through 2013. Honda entered four-wheeled SCORE competition on the Baja peninsula in 2005, competing in the Stock Mini class with a Honda Ridgeline fielded by Clive Skilton and his California Race and Rally (Carr) organization. Driver Gavin Skilton and the Ridgeline scored their first SCORE Baja 1000 class victory in 2008, while Gavin and co-driver Andy Grader claimed a second Stock Mini class win in the 2010 SCORE Baja 1000. Both of these class victories came in partnership with HPD. Moving up to the Class Six Trophy Truck category in 2012 with a tube-framed HPD Desert Pilot developed jointly by HPD and Carr, Skilton won the category in the Score Baja 500 in June, then partnered with brother Darren Skilton to finish third in that year's SCORE Baja 1000.
Honda Performance Development
HPD was founded in 1993 to spearhead Honda's entry into Indy car racing. No other manufacturer has matched Honda's success in Indy cars, which includes 212 race victories, 15 drivers' championships, six manufacturers' championships and 10 Indianapolis 500 victories, including the 2014 event, won by Ryan Hunter-Ray of Andriette Auto sport.
HPD's prototype racing efforts have resulted in more than 70 victories and multiple American Le Mans Series championships. The company's sports-car racing debut in 2007 at the 12 Hours of Sabering marked the first win for HPD's LEM-V engine and the first for a Honda racing engine designed and developed outside of Japan.
HPD won the LAMP title in the inaugural 2012 World Endurance Championship and has twice won the LAMP category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2010.
HPD offers a complete line of race engines for cars from grass roots to pinnacle; for professional, amateur and entry-level racers. For more information about HPD and the company's racing product lines, please visit http://hpd.honda.com.