Canadian abroad: Patrick Trahan vs. the Merzouga Rally

Patrick Trahan, seen here during the 2010 edition of the Dakar rally, got seriously injured in Africa.

Earlier this year, we told you about Patrick Trahan’s success at the Asia Cross Country Rally (he’s pictured above during his Dakar days).

A few days ago, he emailed us to tell us he’d also won his class at the Merzouga Rally — an FIM-sanctioned desert rally held in Morocco, aboard his self-built Honda CRF250L rally bike.

Of course, there aren’t many 250s at Merzouga. In fact, Trahan was the only quarter-litre rider there, and they gave him the medal after deciding his pioneering ride deserved recognition. But he held his own against 300 cc and 450 cc bikes, so we reckon he earned it.

We figured Trahan’s accomplishment was even more newsworthy when you consider the recent tip that Honda’s decided to put a rally version of their CRF250L into production. So, we had a few questions for Trahan — read on.

While the CRF250L is certainly underpowered when compared to its larger racemates, Trahan says he wasn’t always at a disadvantage at Merzouga.He figures the Little Red Pig was equal to the larger bikes in the dune sections, and the reduced fuel consumption and reliability both made his life much easier. He had no engine problems throughout the race, which was probably partly due to the bike’s mild tuning, although he had to go over the bike every night, just as any other rally racer.

Honda CRF250 Rally
Trahan built his own rally version of the CRF250L for race use. Here’s Honda’s take on what such a bike should look like; Trahan reckons it would see some use amongst budget-minded competitors on the world desert racing scene.

Although it had its moments, Trahan says his CRF250L rally bike was held back by suspension and power output, particularly in rocky sections and sandy riverbed (maybe he should have installed Race Tech suspension?).

So, does he figure Honda’s CRF250 Rally will be a staple on the international scene, as a privateer’s bike, should it see production?

Trahan says the CRF250L is an amazing learning tool for rally riders, due to its affordability, reliability, and manageable power, although it isn’t a high-performance podium-topper. He figures that in smaller rallies (say, the Asia Cross Country race), beginner or intermediate riders might be attracted to the machine, as bikes like the one he built would cost about 8,000 Euros, ready to race, and they’re available worldwide.

As for the thrill of earning a medal at an FIM race on a bike he built himself, Trahan says he’s proud of what he accomplished, but the R&D isn’t done. He’s going to continue to perfect his pet project until he has designed a complete rally kit that’s available to the public. We’re very, very interested to see what that looks like when it’s done.

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