– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Carmichael Becomes Centerpiece of Honda’s Off-Road Racing Efforts

Standing behind Honda Vice President Ray Blank interviewing Ricky Carmichael are, left to right, Nathan Ramsey, Miguel Duhamel, Ernesto Fonseca, Kurtis Roberts, Nicky Hayden, Scott Summers, Mike LaRocco and Johnny Campbell

Honda wasn’t subtle about its excitement at signing Ricky Carmichael. At Honda’s Las Vegas dealer show, Wednesday night (in the same arena where the U.S. Open of Supercross race is held), Honda introduced its 2002 race team, including new motocross riders Ernesto Fonseca and Nathan Ramsey (who are rumored to be the first riders on Honda’s prototype 250 four-stroke next year), without ever mentioning Ricky Carmichael. Leading the crowd to believe they were done introducing the race team, Honda’s Ray Blank then produced Carmichael, at the end of the show, and Carmichael proceeded to shred the short supercross track built by Honda just for this event.

Honda then brought Carmichael center stage, and had its other racers stand in a semi-circle around him (see picture above).

It is no secret that Honda has had a long dry spell in the supercross/motocross championship chase. Indeed, while Ricky Carmichael has been racking up six National championships in the past five years (three 125 Outdoor titles, two 250 Outdoor titles and one 250 Supercross title), the Honda supercross/motocross team has been shut out.

As I mentioned to a Honda representative seated next to me at the dealer show, signing Carmichael is a double-edged sword. Since he is probably the fastest rider in history, and just entering his prime, Honda is in a must win situation. Much like Suzuki was when it hired Jeremy McGrath for a single season five years ago.

At least initially, Carmichael will campaign the 250 two-stroke, and not the 450 four-stroke. If the four-stroke proves to be a more competitive mount, however (and it might), Carmichael could certainly switch. Riding for Honda, he has that option (something Kawasaki could not offer him — at least, at this point).

In any event, with Honda expecting great things from RC, you could sense the reverse is also true. RC is expecting Honda to come through with great bikes for him to ride into the history books. The pressure is on — in both directions.

wordscape cheatgun mayhem 2 unblocked games