A while back, we told you Patrick Trahan was racing his customized Honda CRF250L in the FIM-sanctioned Asia Cross Country Rally. Now, here’s an update on his results.
Going into the rally, Trahan said he just wanted to cross the finish line; he’s been hit by serious bad luck before at rallies and on long adventure riders. He managed his goal; his team finished fourth out of seven motorcycle teams entered, better than he expected. The team had been somewhat hindered by the fact they were riding CRF250Ls instead of more powerful off-roaders, but they did have a former motocross and supercross champ riding with them, which helped.
Trahan said his teammates’ bikes had their motors upgraded to engines from CBR300Rs, but Trahan left his motor unaltered, saying “Stock is the best and 250 was enough.” His teammates’ bikes had troubles due to the engine swaps, but Trahan’s only breakdown was a broken shifter.
The other bikes in the rally were mostly set up like enduros, Trahan says, with plenty of machines in the 300-400 cc range, including some two-strokes.
The biggest difference between the Asian rally and Trahan’s usual desert playground was the humidity. He went from riding in extremely dry conditions to extremely wet conditions, and said navigation in the jungle was very tricky, as there were many junctions to choose from, unlike the more straightforward nature of desert riding. The humidex factor was also something Trahan didn’t normally encounter in desert racing; on the third day of the rally, temperatures reached 42 C without accounting for the humidex.
The mud was the toughest part of the rally for Trahan — at one point, he says it was as slippery as soap, causing his only hard crash. However, he believes first-time Canadian racers would more readily adapt to the Asian rally as opposed to rallies like Merzouga, Baja or Dakar, as the riding is closer to traditional enduro racing than desert racing. There is still lots of fast speed and long distances, though.
Going into the rally, Trahan thought the language barrier between him and his Thai teammates might be an issue. However, he was able to communicate through his team manager, and at stops, the mechanics knew what to do.
“They know the job and what I need at a pit stop (fuel, water, cleaning my goggle, etc). So not much talking there. The rest was done by gesture and sound.”
Although the Merzouga rally is his priority, Trahan is already making plans to go back to the Asia Cross Country rally for 2016. He believes Honda Thailand will help him again, and he’s hoping to bring a few more Canadian riders with him. They can rent bikes for the event, if they don’t want to bring their own. Trahan reckons it would cost more than it would to enter Merzouga, but says the experience of racing in Asia is worth it. Plus, it’s still more affordable than racing Dakar — “Everything except going on the moon is cheaper than Dakar.”
His other plans involve his ongoing CRF250L Rally project. For some time now, Trahan’s been working on a rally kit for Honda’s quarter-litre dual sport, and after his Asian adventure, he’s re-designing the fairing.
We asked him if Honda is going to produce a rally bike based on his prototype, and he told us “That is a question that I could not answer even if I knew it. But what I can say is that they are working on a CRF250 Rally that will be more an adventurer than a rally machine. I am hoping that they will work with me on this project.”
Even if that doesn’t happen, Trahan says he’s still going to use his prototype to build 10 bikes soon for a rally academy he plans to start in Spain, using CRF250L-based machines.
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