Embracing Honda’s “Challenging Spirit,” two teams of associates from Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA) will compete in the 2018 Rebelle Rally women’s off-road navigation event. The rally, which starts on October 11 in Lake Tahoe, Calif., will cover approximately 1,500 grueling off-road miles of desert and mountain terrain in California and Nevada over eight days, testing the skills and endurance of the driver/navigator teams and the off-road prowess and durability of their Honda vehicles.
While working on a Honda light truck project, Torrance, CA-based HRA product planner Ariel Jen learned of the Rebelle Rally and saw the event as an opportunity. “I love to challenge myself and learn new things and the Rebelle Rally seemed like a perfect opportunity to accomplish both goals,” said Jen. “It’s a way to learn more about the world of off-roading and trucks and further unite women at Honda to accomplish something amazing.”
Because preparing for and participating in the event would provide project members valuable knowledge and growth experiences in their R&D roles, Honda management approved HRA’s first-ever participation in the Rebelle Rally. Honda also expectsthe demands of the off-road driving event will demonstrate the durability and reliability of Honda light trucks in extreme conditions.
The Honda associate rally teams feature two driver/navigator combinations, the Torrance-based “Desert Dreamers” team #208, featuring Jen and exterior designer Lili Melikian in a 2019 Pilot, and the Ohio-based “Ridgeline Rebels” team #209 consisting of engine test engineer Maria Guitar teamed with vehicle safety test engineer Michelle Klein driving a 2018 Ridgeline. The teams are currently preparing for the event, supported by more than two dozen Honda volunteers in both California and Ohio, with Honda supporting the associates’ initiative through funding, vehicles, shop space, practice/training opportunities and technical expertise.
Demonstrating Honda Capability
The 2019 Honda Pilot and 2018 Honda Ridgeline that Honda’s Rebelle Rally teams will drive remain mostly stock, with both lightly modified for the rally event with more aggressive off-road tires, skid plates, auxiliary lights, increased ground clearance on the Pilot and other changes required for carrying off-road equipment such as jacks and an onboard compressor.
The popular Honda Pilot midsize, three-row SUV was refreshed for 2019, with updated styling, standard Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver assistive technologies, and major upgrades to the available connected-car technology. The innovative 2018 Ridgeline pickup truck won North American Truck of the Year for this generation’s first year in 2017, and is the only unibody midsize pickup available. Both vehicles feature Honda’s highly advanced Intelligent Variable Torque Management™ (i-VTM4™) torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system that includes Intelligent Traction Management System (ITM) modes of Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand that allows the driver to select the best all-wheel drive parameters for the environment.
The Ultimate Off-Road Challenge for Adventurous Women
When it debuted in 2016, the Rebelle Rally was the first women’s off-road navigation rally raid in the U.S. The event was created by off-road racing veteran Emily Miller to make the adventure and challenges of off-road driving more accessible to women. It is designed to blend demanding driving environments with the requirement for precise navigation to reach remote checkpoints that together create the ultimate proving ground for participants and the vehicles they drive. “I wanted to create an exciting and challenging experience for women that wasn’t branded pink,” said Miller. “I feel the Rebelle Rally does just that and serves as a badge of honor participants can be proud of.”