Young riders in the final round of the NSF100 HRC Trophy mini-bike series were in for a surprise at Motegi yesterday - when they found themselves racing wheel-to-wheel against a special HRC team.
The HRC team was made up of HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC directors Seiki Ishii and Tomoaki Nagayama, HRC test rider Tady Okada - who usually spends his track time testing Honda's RC212V MotoGP challenger - and Honda racing veteran Shinichi Ito.
The team entered the special four-hour endurance race at the circuit, which hosts the Japanese round of the MotoGP World Championship. An amazing 86 teams and 420 riders were taking part in the one-off race, all on Honda mini-bikes.
While the former grand prix riders were inevitably keen to find the limits of the Repsol Honda branded NSF100, the HRC bosses were happy to simply experience the 100cc machine on which many aspiring racers begin their careers.
The HRC team completed 105 laps and came home in a steady but respectably 57th place out of 80 finishers.
“It was really good fun to take part in this race today with my colleagues and with our professional riders,” said Nakamoto. “We probably could have gone a little faster, but we were here simply to enjoy the race rather than go for glory! For us today was an important occasion to see how the NSF100 machine is used by the riders across a wide age range, and to see how we can develop these type of race events in future.”
“I had a good start today and was able to come from behind and battle for second place,” added former 500cc race winner Okada. “Since Yuki [Takahashi] was also participating, we had an exciting race for the last 10 laps. We do not have so much opportunity to race with other riders like this, so I had a lot of fun today!”
“This was a little different from the racing that I normally do and I really enjoyed it,” stated fellow former grand prix rider Ito. “Some of the younger riders are very professional on the NSF100, and they also fit the machine's small size very well, so they were fast in the corners and it was difficult to overtake them!”
The NSF100 is HRC's purpose-built production racing model with a 4-stroke, air-cooled single cylinder engine.