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Honda launches new desert racing team | News

Honda Motorcycles Australia has announced its brand new dedicated desert racing team with renewed focus from factory team, the Penrite Honda Racing Desert Team.

Honda has enrolled desert racing veteran Jacob Smith to race the 2018 Honda CRF450R in the open classes in Finke and Hattah. Smith will also compete in selected rally events throughout Australia.  Smith is looking forward to focusing on just racing this year after running his own factory-backed program in previous seasons.

“It’s tough trying to race whilst organising everything with my brother so I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can really focus on racing. I also feel I can help the team and the other riders by sharing my experiences and knowledge. I am really looking forward to the season ahead.” Said Smith.

Callum Norton has been signed to race a 450 and will compete in the Australian MXD championships and MX2 Supercross Championship. Norton is no stranger to desert racing, having competed in Hattah several times. In his rookie year in 2017 he finished 4th outright.

“I am pumped to be racing for Honda and doing some desert racing. The Finke has always been on my radar so I’m certainly keen to be as competitive as possible and give it my best,” said Norton.

The team has also signed Mark Grove and Caleb Auricht to race in the 250 class. Both riders have proved worthy of a factory ride and ready for a big season ahead.

“I am appreciative of the opportunity for a factory ride for Honda. We have already been up testing which puts me way ahead of my previous efforts.” Said Grove.

Auricht is also excited to be involved with the new team; “I didn’t know what I was going to do this year. This support makes all of the difference and gives me renewed motivation to push even harder.” He said.

Seasoned veteran and Finke champion Michael Vroom, under the direction of Honda’s factory Motocross and Supercross owner Yarrive Konsky, will manage the team.

Vroom understands the pressures and requirements of desert racing and accepts this will be a challenging year against seasoned teams and riders; “We have short and long term goals and our expectations are realistic. This will be a year of development and we need to be mindful this is the first year of a two-year plan. Our development of the new CRF450R has been on point and our riders are more than capable of winning, we will work towards that goal,” said Vroom.

Honda remain focused on their two year plan and are looking forward the developing a strong and competitive program. Brand and Motorsports Manager Glyn Griffiths accepts this will be a tough season and understands the teams’ objectives and plans are short and long term.

“Desert racing takes a lot of preparation and testing. Honda has proven capable of winning Finke, Baja, Hattah and many other endurance events. We aim to be competitive and look forward to the challenges ahead.” He said.