After we saw the new generation Passport unveiled, Honda is preparing something special for its US fans. A team of Honda engineers is taking the rugged new Honda Passport rally racing. Honda unveiled its 2022 Passport stage rally truck specially built for competition by the Honda Performance Development (HPD) Maxxis Rally racing team, highlighting the rugged capability and durability long engineered into Honda light trucks.
Showcasing the 2022 Passport’s rugged new design, the rally truck made its racing debut at the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) in Michigan on Oct. 15 and 16. It will compete in the American Rally Association (ARA) series of closed-course rally events through the 2022 season in the Limited 4WD class.
With modified street vehicles reaching speeds of well over 100 mph on natural-terrain closed courses that include gravel, dirt, mud and snow over routes covering hundreds of miles, the ARA National and Regional Championship series are intensely competitive. At the LSPR race, the Honda Passport rally truck was driven by Honda engineer Chris Sladek, a suspension test engineer based at the company’s Ohio-based North American Auto Development Center, and co-driven by Gabriel Nieves, a chassis design engineer based at the same facility.
For maximum traction and performance, the Passport rally truck is fitted with BRAID Winrace T rally wheels (7.5”x17”) wrapped in either Maxxis’ stage rally-proven RAZR M/T or RAZR A/T tires (265/70-R17), depending on event conditions. Custom-fabricated 1/8”-inch thick aluminum oil pan and rear differential skid plates protect the underbody, as well as high-density polyethylene panels covering the fuel tank and other components. Carbotech XP12 brake pads and high-temperature racing brake fluid provide consistent braking performance in demanding rally environments.
The Passport’s production 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6, 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM) all-wheel drive system, and all suspension components are left unmodified for competition; the only addition is an automatic transmission fluid cooler from the Passport’s available tow package. The driver uses the transmission’s Sequential mode and paddle shifters for enhanced control, and the Passport’s Intelligent Traction Management system’s Sand Mode is utilized for optimal torque distribution and performance on loose surfaces.
For additional safety, the interior of the Passport rally truck includes OMP racing seats with six-point competition harnesses, a safety roll cage, fire suppression system, rally computer and in-car communication system. To reduce weight, the rear seats, carpeting, sound insulation, and other interior trim pieces were removed, and the SUV’s side and rear window glass replaced with Lexan polycarbonate. A hydraulic handbrake handle enhances maneuverability through tight corners, while a modified exhaust produces a signature rally-inspired sound. Designed by HPD, the Passport’s exterior wrap graphics highlight the rugged and adventurous capability of the Honda Passport.