Honda has announced its entry into the 2021 Rebelle Rally just in time, as the rally is kicking off on October 7. The Japanese carmaker is sending two of its own engineers to the Rebelle, behind the wheel of a 2021 Honda HPD Ridgeline with a few extra modifications.
The acronym stands for Honda Performance Development, which you might recognize as Honda’s North American motorsport experts. The HPD package for the Ridgeline is mostly just for looks, but the truck running in the Rebelle sports functional upgrades, like a custom exhaust system, skid plates for its oil pan and gas tank, and a suspension lift kit.
It also has all-terrain tires wrapped around its bronze-colored wheels, which look like the right amount of wheel and sidewall. The HPD Ridgeline also has some extras, the coolest being the tire carrier in its bed that’ll fit two full-size spares. And it’s been fitted with some other accessories from Honda, among them roof rails, crossbars and a basket.
Overall, the ’21 HPD Ridgeline looks the part of a tough off-roader. Whether it can play the part as well is yet to be seen, but the teammates are a good fit as any to prove the Ridgeline’s capability.
The two drivers, Liz Long and Tasha Krug, competed in the 2019 Rebelle Rally. They drove a Honda Pilot back then and came in 3rd place in the X-Cross class. They took home the Rookie of the Year award, too. The drivers are collectively Team Sand Mode #208, which is the nerdiest name for a rally team.
Their team title makes sense in light of their day jobs as engineers at Honda. Long specializes in chassis reliability, while Krug works on engine systems and drivability. I’m eager to see what the team can do going from the Pilot to the Ridgeline, especially now that Honda is placing its off-road aspirations on upcoming TrailSport models like the Ridgeline and Passport.