Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979

Regaining the Summit

Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979

The NR500s: A Humiliating Debut

The NR team had finally made it to England, where the machines were receiving their final tuneups in preparation for the GP race. At the same time, Yanase was making various arrangements in order that the team might concentrate on the race free of hindrances. Thus, in addition to setting up the bikes for optimal performance on the track, there were many other things that had to be done for each race, such as arranging transportation and accommodations for the many staff members involved. The World GP, often referred to as the Continental Circus, had most of its races in Europe. Therefore, while it was possible to develop the motorcycles in Japan, it was impossible to manage the races from Japan. The distance was simply too great.

Yanase rented a warehouse in Slough, an English town near Heathrow International Airport, as their team's base of operations in Europe, while in Britain additional preparations were underway through a company called HIRCO (Honda International Racing Corporation). Honda had established HIRCO in December 1978 as a joint venture with Honda UK for the management of all racing activities, including competition in the World GP series.

Honda's riders for the 1979 season would be Mick Grant and Takazumi Katayama, the latter having competed in the 1977 World GP series as a privateer, where he ultimately won the championship title in the 350-cc class.

For their part, the NR500s kindled great expectations upon their appearance at Silverstone, portending awesome performance with their original engine design and sleek styling. However, those expectations were mercilessly shattered in the qualifying round. These bikes, which were still in development, barely performed well enough to get through to the final. Even then, Grant fell at the first corner following the start and quickly retired. Katayama also retired after several laps due to ignition problems.

Though they had not expected a win in their very first race, the NR team was deeply disappointed with the outcome of their efforts. The NR500s were brought back to Japan, and improvements were made to further reduce weight and increase output. However, those really were not the fundamental solutions that the project team had long sought.

Harsher realities awaited in the French GP, the twelfth race of the 1979 season where both machines failed to qualify for the final, meaning that no results whatsoever could be garnered from their presence. However, the team could not go back to Japan without data, after having spent so much time and money in preparation for the French event.

Therefore, the staff of the NR Block flew to England, and with help from HIRCO tested the NR500s at Donington Park. The test was a fruitful one, in which new areas of possible improvement were identified. However, there was no improvement in speed, and the machines were still running two seconds behind the lap record. In the world of racing, where one-hundredth of a second determines the winner, two seconds was just too great a handicap.

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

A System that Fosters Expertise
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  2. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
  3. Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification  / 1960Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
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  2. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  3. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  4. Introducing N360 / 1967Introducing N360 / 1967
  5. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  6. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  7. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  8. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
Marketing Globally, Producing Lacally
  1. Marketing Globally, Producing LocallyMarketing Globally, Producing Locally
  2. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959
  3. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  4. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
A Refreshing New Development
  1. A Refreshing New DevelopmentA Refreshing New Development
  2. Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973
Products Emerging From Technology and Innovation
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  2. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  7. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  8. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  9. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  10. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  11. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  12. Road Pal / 1976Road Pal / 1976
  13. City / 1981City / 1981
  14. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
  15. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  16. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  17. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  18. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  19. The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
Production Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufacturing
  1. Production Technology: The Essence of Creative ManufaturingProduction Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufaturing
  2. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  3. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  4. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  5. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
A Neverending Passion for Racing
  1. A Neverending Passion for RacingA Neverending Passion for Racing
  2. Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962
  3. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  4. Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964
  5. Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983
  6. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  7. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
Creativity - The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  1. Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  2. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
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  2. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  3. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  4. Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991

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