Honda won its first Grand Prix in the spring of 1961 at Montjuic Park in Barcelona. Australian Tom Phillis drove a 125cc four-stroke twin. Jaume Masia’s Teruel Moto3 win was number 800 for the company that changed motorcycle racing forever when it became the first Japanese brand to race in Europe in the summer of 1959.
The next most successful constructors of GP Racing are Yamaha with 510 wins, Aprilia with 294, MV Agusta with 275, Suzuki with 159 and Kalex with 122.
Honda 1965 RC115 50cc Twin: 22,000 rpm, 35.5 mm bore, nine gears
Honda’s 100th Grand Prix victory
Luigi Taveri, 1966 Dutch 50cc TT, Honda RC116
Little Swiss ace Luigi Taveri experienced a royal fight with his teammate Ralph Bryans in Assen and turned his little twins to 22,500 rpm every time they changed gear in the 116’s nine-speed gearbox. Another feature was bicycle-style brake caliper brakes to reduce braking resistance.
The RC116 was a 1960s engineering marvel, designed by Shoichiro Irimajiri, who also designed Honda’s first Formula 1 engines. The engine made 280 hp per liter, about as much as a modern MotoGP bike.
Taveri never won the 50cc world title, but he did claim the 125cc crown three times, which perfectly illustrates the evolution of Honda technology over that amazing decade – he won the title in 1962 with the 2RC143 Twin, in 1964 with the 2RC146 Four and In 1966 with the RC149 five.
Honda’s 200th Grand Prix victory
Jimmy Filice, 1988 US 250cc GP, Honda NSR250
That was a fairy tale. The American Jimmy Filice was a field driver who started road racing late. By 1988 he had decided to go back to working full-time on dirt roads when he received a call from Erv Kanemoto who had led Freddie Spencer to three world championships.
Filice replaced the injured Masahiro Shimizu in Laguna and won his first GP race against fellow Honda riders Sito Pons and Dominique Sarron.
Honda’s 300th Grand Prix victory
Alex Crivillé, 1992 Dutch 500cc TT, Honda NSR500
Former 125cc world champion Alex Crivillé celebrated his first 500cc victory after Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Schwantz crashed in Assen.
This was a significant win as Honda unveiled its groundbreaking Big Bang NSR500 in 1992. The friendly power of the big bang enabled European riders to compete against the former dirt trackers from the US and Australia who had dominated the past decade.
Haruchika Aoki ruled the 125cc championship on his RS125R
Honda’s 400th Grand Prix victory
Haruchika Aoki, 1996 Brazilian 125cc GP, Honda RS125R
Haruchika Aoki dominated the 125cc World Championship in 1994 and 1995 with his RS125. This dirt cheap single cylinder two-stroke was one of the most significant Grand Prix machines of all time as it has helped thousands of drivers around the world compete, from club racing to GP racing. Other top drivers who have ridden RS125 during their careers include Loris Capirossi, Carlos Checa, Jack Miller, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.
Honda’s 500th Grand Prix winnerand
Valentino Rossi, 2001 Japanese 500cc GP, Honda NSR500
This marked the first race of Valentino Rossi’s second season in the premier class and the day was probably Honda’s biggest racing day of all time. The company had to win all three races – 125, 250, and 500 – to hit the magic number at Suzuka, the home track that Soichiro Honda built in the early 1960s.
This seemed unlikely as Honda hadn’t won all three classes in more than a year. The biggest problem was the opening race of the day, as Aprilia’s 125 butterfly valve had significantly more power than Honda’s 125 reed valve.
“It was a Honda fantasy that they would win their 500th race that day,” recalls Rossi. “It was amazing – we saw the other races on TV and I said, ‘Honda sure won’t win the 125’ but f ** k, [Masao] Azuma won the race, then in the 250 [Daijiro] Kato won so I have to win the 500! “
This was that unforgettable competition with fierce rival Max Biaggi Rossi pushing the dirt and leaving Suzuka’s 120 mph, barrier-lined final corner. On the next lap, Rossi dived past Biaggi’s Yamaha at Turn 1 and gave him his finger. He went on to beat Garry McCoy’s Yamaha by less than a second
Honda’s 600th Grand Prix victory
Dani Pedrosa, 2005 Australian 250cc GP, Honda RS250RW
The little samurai was great on a 250 – rider and bike made for each other. On that day, Pedrosa secured his second straight 250cc crown with his seventh win of the year and then announced that he had ridden the last four races with a broken shoulder.
Pedrosa is Honda’s second most successful driver of all time with 54 wins on RS125, RS250, RC211V, RC212V and RC213V machines.
Honda’s 700th Grand Prix victory
Marc Marquez, Indianapolis MotoGP 2015, Honda RC213V
Marquez is a bit of a counterclockwise god on racetracks, which, unlike Europe, is the most common configuration in the US. As a result, he only lost one of the 11 MotoGP races he rode in COTA, Indianapolis and Laguna Seca.
Indy 2015 was the venue’s last race before being removed from the MotoGP championship. The track features Marquez’s favorite corner – the 110mph Turn Five
“I like a lot of corners where you drive and slide on gasoline. They try to find a good balance there. You’ll need to slide through the footpegs as the corner is bumpy. So you push your legs to get more on the bike. You don’t push in most corners because you’re looking for grip, but in this corner you have to find a compromise. You are trying to find the grip, but at the same time you are trying to be on the bike to try to be stable. “
Masia leads four KTMs to the checkered flag in Aragon on Sunday
Honda’s 800th Grand Prix victory
Jaume Masia, 2020 Teruel Moto3, Honda NSF250RW
Spanish teenager Masia switched from KTM to Honda in 2020 and it took him a while to get the hang of it. Although the bike had dominated for the past three seasons, this year it has struggled for the most part to keep up with the KTM.
Masia eventually took his first Honda win at Aragon One and followed suit with another at Aragon Two. He won after passing his rivals both times on the long back of the track. No wonder, because it weighs only eight and a half stone / 55 kg.