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REVVED UP The Honda Factory Racing Talons Are Ready For UTV Competition  Story by Stuart Bourdon Photos courtesy of Honda Racing Factory Off-Road Team SCORE Journal sat down with Honda Racing Factory Off-Road Team leader, Jeff Proctor, to talk about what’s ahead for the Honda Talon UTVs. Jeff told us, “We are returning to 2022 SCORE International racing with the same two main drivers we had in 2021– Zack Sizelove and Elias Hanna. Both drivers are incredibly good at what they do.” Sizelove didn’t have much experience in UTV racing before joining the Honda Racing Factory Off-Road Team. However, he came from a successful Class 1600 race car background. “That proficiency in 1600-class cars translated very well to the Pro UTV NA (naturally aspirated) Honda Talon Zach piloted in the SCORE Baja races,” said Proctor. “Quite honestly, we hired Elias Hanna specifically because of his knowledge of Baja and his record of SCORE Baja 1000 wins. We knew that the 2021 SCORE Baja 1000 was going to be tougher than usual. It was a point-to-point race and would be much more challenging than a normal loop race. We were counting on Elias to get us to La Paz.” Freshman Season  The SCORE San Felipe 250 was their first test. They passed the exam, finishing sixth (Sizelove #1925) and 9th (Hanna #1920) in their Pro UTV NA class. During the SCORE Baja 500, Hanna’s car had some mechanical issues but still finished fifth in the class. Sizelove ran like a jackrabbit and got his first podium (2nd place) for the Honda Talon team in that race. “The Pro UTV NA class is stacked with great drivers like Kristin Matlock and Kaden Wells,” said Proctor. “We were happy to be on the podium running with strong competitors.” Sizelove began the 2021 SCORE Baja 1000 strong and was running with the leaders. The #1925 car was later crashed in the hands of another driver and fell out of the running. On the other hand, Hanna ran a textbook race and secured the class win. “Hanna went out and basically put on a “clinic” on how to win the race,” said Proctor. “It was a testament to Elias’ knowledge of Baja, his skills as a driver, and the reliability and durability of the Honda Talon. It really put the Honda Talon on the map.” Technology Transfer Proctor said that much of the Talon’s capabilities to last a full Baja race and come out on top are also testament to their connection with Honda Talon’s design and engineering team. “When it comes to technology transfer, we are very close. We talk to the director of Honda Racing North America on a regular basis. There is a debrief with the lead Talon R&D engineers and the manufacturing engineers at the plant in South Carolina after every race. It offers us a direct connection to the engineers in the drivetrain, gearbox, and all other aspects of the Talon.” According to Proctor, the team has never had a front or rear differential failure or a driveshaft break. “We put these cars through a real torture test during our races, but because the Talons use driveshafts, we don’t have the belt problems seen among some of the other UTVs. We’ve also never had gearbox failures. We don’t have the same problems with the transfer of power that some of the other teams seem to have encountered.” What’s most significant about the success of the Honda Talons is that they are not custom-built tube-chassis cars. According to Proctor, both Sizelove and Hanna are racing pretty much what comes out of the factory. “We are using as many factory parts and components as we possibly can to provide a lot of data to send back to engineering in Ohio. I think that separates the Talons from the other UTVs we compete against. We’re not heavily modifying the powerplant with forged cranks, forged pistons, and all kinds of other custom parts. Our cars are almost completely bone stock. It really is a win on Sunday, sell on Monday car.” Racing Forward When asked about plans for the 2022 SCORE Off-Road Racing season, Jeff Proctor said, “Last year (2021), we started with two new drivers getting to know the team and the way we operate. There’s a learning curve. We have Zack and Elias coming back for what I’ll call their ‘sophomore season’ in our cars. They’re going to be better than ever because we’re compounding our learning process, and the entire team is on point. “This year (2022), we’re picking the two biggest races on the SCORE Off-Road Racing schedule, the SCORE Baja 500 and the SCORE Baja 1000, to showcase the competitive ability of the Honda Talons. We’re bringing our A-game to those important events. I think this is the year our competitors need to keep their wits about them because Honda is coming on strong this year, and we’re going to be turning some heads down in Baja.” SJ

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