A team of Honda engineers will take the company’s product development efforts to the next level later this month as they tackle the 2021 Rebelle Rally, an all-women off-road navigation event through the unforgiving deserts of the American southwest.
Driving a rugged 2021 Honda HPD Ridgeline, two engineers from Honda’s Ohio-based North American Auto Development Center, Liz Long and Tasha Krug, will compete in the in the grueling eight-day competition from October 7-16.
This is the third year Honda is participating in the longest off-road rally in the United States, which begins in the Nevada desert and finishes 1,500 miles later at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Southern California. It’s not a race for speed, but a unique and demanding event where the teams strategically navigate the rugged terrain without the assistance of GPS or cellular navigation. Instead, drivers will rely on traditional elements of headings, hidden checkpoints, time, and distance using maps, compasses, and roadbooks to reach the finish line.
Competing as Team Sand Mode #208 in the X-Cross class, Long and Krug will test the handling, capability, and durability of the Honda HPD Ridgeline over 10-12 hours of off-road driving per day. In the 2019 Rebelle Rally, the teammates placed 3rd in the X-Cross class driving a 2019 Honda Passport, taking home the Rookie of the Year award.
Long, a Honda chassis reliability test engineer, helps guarantee the reliability of Honda and Acura vehicles through subframe and suspension testing, which includes in-lab and on-car strength, durability, and marketability analyses. Krug, a Honda engine systems and drivability test engineer, calibrates engines and confirms drivability and marketability, ensuring the vehicle operates smoothly in real-world environments.
Honda engineers use the Rebelle Rally to further test the HPD Ridgeline in extreme environments. Like the Honda Passport TrailSport Rugged Roads Project, the team’s HPD Ridgeline features additional light modifications to further increase its off-road capability, including custom oil pan and fuel tank skid plates, custom front recovery points, a suspension lift kit, and all-terrain tires. Unique to the team’s Ridgeline is a sportier-sounding custom exhaust and an in-bed dual full-size spare tire carrier.
The Ridgeline also features parts from Honda Genuine Accessories including roof rails, crossbars, and basket; door visors; cargo net; in-bed trunk cargo dividers; and all-season floor mats. The Ridgeline’s HPD Package adds an even more rugged appearance with unique grille treatment, black fender flares, aggressive bronze-colored wheels, and special HPD graphics.
“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.”
The special Rebelle Rally wrap applied to the 2021 HPD Ridgeline was designed by Honda exterior designer Lili Melikian and celebrates the ruggedness of the HPD Ridgeline. The wrap is an expression of performance and power, with orange, red, gold and black lines stretching across the body inspired by the shifting colors of the event’s desert landscape, while the orange lines also take inspiration directly from TrailSport, Honda’s new rugged halo for its light trucks that made its debut on the 2022 Honda Passport.