Japanese automaker Honda is entering the 2021 Rebelle Rally with a Ridgeline crossover pickup truck specially prepped by Honda Performance Development (HPD). Making things more interesting is the pilot and co-pilot, Liz Long and Tasha Krug. Both are real-life engineers at Honda’s American Auto Development Center in Ohio, and the 2021 Rebelle Rally is the perfect environment to test the HPD Ridgeline in unforgiving terrain.
Tasha Krug is a Honda engine and drivability test engineer, while Liz Long is a Honda chassis reliability test engineer. Honda and both women also competed at the 2019 Rebelle Rally in a Honda Passport. They finished third in the X-Cross class and took home the Rookie of the Year award, so this year is not Honda’s first dance with Rebelle Rally. “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,” said Krug.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline has a 3.5-liter V6 and Honda’s excellent iVTM-4 all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring. The engine pumps out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, sending power to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The drivetrain can transfer up to 70-percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, and it can also shift 100-percent of available torque to the left or right rear wheel.
The HPD Ridgeline is brimming with off-road mods. It has a custom oil pan and fuel tank skid plates, bespoke recovery points, a suspension lift kit, and chunkier all-terrain tires. Also standard is a sportier exhaust system and a dual full-size spare tire carrier in the bed. Styling enhancements include a custom front grille, bronze wheels, black fender flares, and HPD body graphics penned by Honda exterior designer Lili Melikian.
The body wrap features orange, red, gold, and black lines across the body to project “an expression of performance and power,” said Honda, while the orange lines pay tribute to the 2022 Honda Passport TrailSport. The 2021 Rebelle Rally will run from October 7 to 16 across 1,500 miles of inhospitable terrain across Nevada, Arizona, and California. Participants are not allowed to use hi-tech GPS or smartphone navigation. Instead, the teams will rely on old-school maps, compasses, and road books to complete the course.