The 1,500-mile event will also be used for research and development.
Honda is entering an HPD Ridgeline pickup in the 2021 Rebelle Rally, but not just for marketing purposes. Two engineers from Honda's North American Auto Development Center will compete in the eight-day event. The team consists of Liz Long and Tasha Krug.
This will be Honda's third year competing in this event. It starts in the Nevada desert and finishes 1,500 miles later at the Imperial Sand Dunes in California. The race is not about speed but rather navigating rough terrain using nothing more than traditional navigation methods. No modern GPS or navigation systems are allowed.
Long and Krug will be competing as Team Sand Mode in the X-Cross class. They'll spend ten to 12 hours per day driving. In the 2019 Rebelle Rally, Long and Krug finished in third place in their class in a Honda Passport. The Ford Bronco Sport finished in first place.
Long is a Honda chassis reliability test engineer and usually spends her time in a lab testing Hondas and Acuras for strength and durability. Krug is an engine systems and driveability test engineer who calibrates engines to ensure they operate smoothly in the real world. Together, they'll use the Rebelle Rally to test the HPD Ridgeline in extreme conditions and will likely return with a few notes for the R&D department. The HPD Ridgeline boasts a few light modifications to increase its off-road ability.
These upgrades include a custom oil pan, fuel tank skid plates, custom front recovery points, a suspension lift, and all-terrain tires. Additionally, the Ridgeline has a few things from Honda's Genuine Accessories catalog, including roof rails and crossbars, a roof basket, cargo net, in-bed cargo dividers, and all-season floor mats.
"We are excited for this year's Rebelle Rally and look forward to competing in such a unique event," said Krug. "Rebelle Rally is an excellent proving ground for the capabilities of the 2021 HPD Ridgeline, and we're ready to do our best and see what new adventures this year's rally brings."