Honda will participate in the 2021 edition of the Rebelle Rally, an eight-day off-road navigation event that takes place in Nevada and in California. It's entering a Ridgeline pickup, and it's putting a pair of engineers in the cabin to learn more about how the pickup performs.
Open exclusively to women, the Rebelle Rally is not a speed race where the fastest driver takes the top spot on the podium. Finishing it requires an excellent sense of navigation, a perfect knowledge of how to drive over challenging terrain, and a vehicle capable of handling it all. GPS systems are not allowed; participants need to rely on maps, compasses, and roadbooks to finish each stage in a timely manner.
Liz Long, a Honda chassis reliability test engineer, and Tasha Krug, a Honda engine systems and drivability test engineer, will drive the Ridgeline. Their goal is to finish the rally, of course, preferably near or at the top of the X-Cross class, but driving the Ridgeline through the American desert for over a week will also allow them to gain valuable data about how it handles punishing real-world conditions, according to Honda. The firm expects that the duo will log between 10 and 12 hours of off-road driving daily for over a week.
Honda will give the team an HPD model, which looks more rugged than the standard Ridgeline. Modifications made in preparation for the Rebelle include a pair of skid plates, front recovery points, a lift kit, all-terrain tires, and a custom-designed exhaust system.
Honda has not yet offered customers the Ridgeline pickup in the more rugged TrailSport trim as it has with the Passport, so it's not a stretch to think that some of this rally research might be done with a future offering in mind.
Each year, the Rebelle Rally attracts a growing list of car manufacturers hoping to prove what their off- and soft-roaders are capable of. The 2021 edition will feature a significantly modified Volkswagen ID.4, a 2022 Nissan Frontier with a retro look, and a 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander that also wears a heritage-laced livery. Ford is entering a pair of full-size Bronco SUVs and a Bronco Sport crossover. The event starts on October 7 in the Nevada desert, and it ends eight days and approximately 1,500 miles later at the Imperial Sand Dunes in California.
Honda's Rideline has already proven its mettle in off-road racing: It earned its fourth consecutive class victory at the Baja 500 in 2021.
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