What if a Honda X-ADV scooter entered a rally that began at the Baltic Sea and traversed Europe southwesterly until reaching the Atlantic ocean in Spain? And what if that Honda X-ADV scooter won the rally competing against KTM 790s, Husqvarna 701s, KTM 690Es, and BMW F 800 GSs? Sounds like pure fantasy doesn’t it?
Honda X-ADV scooter wins
But it’s not. A Honda X-ADV scooter piloted by Italian Renato Zocchi has indeed won the Gibraltar Rally. Lest you think the Gibraltar Rally is not a “true” rally, you’ll have to think again.
This year’s rally covered over 7,000 kilometers over 14 stages. The terrain was a mixture of asphalt and dirt roads, rocky tracks, river crossings, and mud/grass sections. Riders could choose to stay in tents at the bivouac or stay in a hotel.
If you are wondering whether the X-ADV was a one-off factory creation, it is not. That’s not to say that that the scooter wasn’t upgraded. Although the engine and chassis are standard, there were modifications to its suspension. Ohlins components updated the scooter’s suspension and provided additional ground clearance. A high-performance exhaust was also added.
The scooter also was equipped with the 2019 X-ADV’s more advanced electronics, a DCT gearbox, two-level traction control, and more power. Zocchi says that these changes along with his previous year’s Gibraltar Rally experience helped him win this year.
Does the bike make the difference?
While all those changes to the scooter sound good, I’m not sure that they are the real reason for Renato’s win. Unlike 4 wheeled vehicles, that can win races with an average operator, motorcycles require a more talented operator to perform at the higher levels.
It’s the rider that really makes the difference. If it were just the machine, those KTMs, Husqvarnas, and BMWs should have left the Honda scooter in the dust. But as it turns out, a talented rider with a good machine can beat a more powerful and better-equipped machine. As long as a skilled rider is at the helm.
Congrats to Renato Zocchi!
All photos credit Rally Cool Photography