Honda has announced the formation of a new two-car Talon UTV factory desert racing program for 2020.
Timed to coincide with the opening of this week’s PRI show in Indianapolis, Honda’s expansion in off-road racing throws its hat into a highly competitive factory landscape that includes Polaris, Can-Am, Textron (Artic Cat) and Robby Gordon’s new Speed UTV.
The new effort will be fielded by southern California’s Proctor Racing Group (PRG) and is designed as both a motorsports platform for the recently-introduced Honda Talon UTV, and also a young driver development program that will focus on the rising talents of short-course champions Christopher Polvoorde and Eliott Watson.
Led by team founder and driver Jeff Proctor, PRG is responsible for fielding the highly-visible Honda Ridgeline desert program that holds the distinction of being one of the only true factory off-road racing efforts in the sport. Making its debut at the launch of the second-generation Honda Ridgeline during the 2015 SEMA show, the team has compiled nine race wins in 21 total starts with driver combinations that include Proctor, Baja 1000 Honda motorcycle legend Johnny Campbell, desert veteran Pat Dailey and Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi.
“We’re beyond excited to get this program in front of our fans and foes, alike,’ said Proctor. “We may be one of the newest to the UTV category, but we have the advantage of our Honda Ridgeline desert racing program experience, and the power of Honda racing heritage behind us. We love the pressure of living up to the past.”
In direct contrast with today’s ‘one and done’ factory off-road engagements, the schedule for the twin Team Honda Works Edition Talon 1000R Turbos includes the King of the Hammers, the BFGoodrich Mint 400, the BITD Vegas to Reno, the Polaris RZR UTV World Championships and the BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 500 – all wrapping up with November’s iconic BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000 point-to-point marathon using the original Ensenada to La Paz race format.
Coming off red-hot seasons in 2019, both of the new PRG drivers are friends and also veterans of the short-course off-road wars that started in the Trophy Kart category at the tender age of just 10 years old.
Polvoorde is coming off a perfect seven-for-seven championship season in the highly competitive Pro Lite class in the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League, including earning the 2019 Pro-Lite World Championship title at the Red Bull Crandon World Cup.
“I’ve dreamed of desert racing for a long time, but I know it is a different discipline and I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting the Talon out front and all the attention that brings – good or bad. To me, it is worth the risk.”
Watson’s family has a desert racing lineage in the open-wheel buggy ranks, a trait he capitalized on by winning the 2019 Pro Buggy championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, also joining Polvoorde as a Crandon Red Bull Cup World Champion.
“Obviously, there are many benefits of joining a factory backed team, but for me, it means being able to focus more on my racing skills and learning from the best – whether it’s engineers or other Honda racers like Alexander Rossi,” Watson said.”
Watson and Polvoorde will take the new Team Honda Works Edition Talon 1000R Turbos into the UTV production turbo class with the help of a Jackson Racing turbo kit, new Fox ‘Live Valve’ internal bypass shocks, KMC wheels, General Tires, STEEL-It coatings, Gibson exhaust, Sparco safety equipment and Baja Design lights.
“Taking PRG to this level as a partner with Honda is what I envisioned when this all started,” said Proctor. “This is a full-time job, and all that I do every day. We have worked extremely hard to get here, but are also very aware of just how rare this kind of opportunity is in off-road racing. We are very fortunate.”