Honda Racing Corporation (aka HRC) just announced that they will be entering the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup electric off-road motorcycle racing series with their CR Electric Proto. The bike, that first started being teased back in 2018 and was finally raced once this past fall in The All Japan Motocross Championship, will make it’s series debut with E-Xplorer.
Entering it’s second full season, the FIM-sanctioned championship stands alone as a discipline. Part motocross and part endurocross, the events are run more like BMX or slalom racing in that riders compete two at a time, side by side in single lap sprints. Another unique aspect is that each two-person team is required to be one man and one woman. Tip of the hat to the FIM for inclusion.
The various teams in the championship currently use everything from heavily modified Sur Ron Light Bees to full-sized electric-converted YZ250Fs. Now Honda will enter the title hunt with it’s full-size CRF-based machine.
Make no mistake about it, the CR Electric Proto is more than capable of taking on these single lap sprints. When former AMA National MX Champion, Trey Canard raced the bike last Fall in Saitama, Japan, it was entered not in an electric class, nor in the 250 four-stroke class either. Instead Honda entered it’s first eMoto in the premiere 450 IA1 class against the country’s best riders and top-of-the-line pure factory bikes. How did Trey fair with the bike? He ran near the front of the pack for the first moto, eventually finishing second to Yamaha’s Jay Marmot. In Moto 2, he took the holeshot, then battled Marmot again, only to be taken out by the Australian rider in the opening laps and the bike suffered a mechanical failure. Then Trey was again leading Moto 3 when he crashed on his own. But mishaps aside, the statement was made, the CR Electric Proto can run with full works 450s in a professional motocross race.
Honda is committing not only to a global series with it’s experimental dirt bike, it’s committing two of them in the hands of 2024 Dakar Rally racer, Tosha Schareina and Italian WMX champion Francesca Nocera.
Furthermore, this announcement also included Honda’s commitment to carbon neutral motorcycles by sometime in the 2040s. That might sound like eons from now, and carbon neutrality can take on many different forms that are not solely electric, but the largest Japanese motorcycle manufacturer putting any type of stake in the ground on it’s future ambitions or for electric motorcycle racing is a statement. In this case, it’s a Big Red one.
The 2024 E-Xplorer World Cup will kick off, very appropriately for the announcement, in Osaka, Japan on February 16 and 17.