HRC in Japan - AMA and FIM

Posted on December 04, 2023

Tim Gajser and Ruben Fernandez joined a whole host of Honda athletes from a multitude of motorsports at the annual Thanks Day, held at the Motegi Mobility Resort in Japan this past weekend.

The MXGP pair were joined by fellow motocross stars, Jett and Hunter Lawrence who were invited to celebrate after their highly successful 2023 season when the pair won multiple titles across the 250 and 450 classes for the Honda Racing US team in America. And these four met up with more of their off-road and road colleagues for what is one of the biggest events on the motor-racing calendar.

Fresh off his F1 World Championship, Max Verstappen made the trip, alongside fellow F1 drivers Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Riccardo, but perhaps the biggest name was MotoGP star Marc Marquez, who was bidding an emotional farewell to his Repsol Honda team after an amazing career under the HRC awning.

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Each discipline got to showcase their machinery in special displays around the circuit, with the motocross riders having a super-pole competition on the specially designed track near the impressive Honda Collections Hall. MXGP’s Gajser took the victory and wowed the crowd with a signature whip on the finish line and he also led the way ahead of all the F1 drivers in the highly competitive karting qualification, taking pole-position into the race. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to keep the lead after some aggressive bumping from the chasing pack, but both him and teammate Fernandez enjoyed some fun laps against the best drivers in the world.

They then headed back to the motocross track for a special race that included MotoGP star Joan Mir, Trials rider Gabriel Marcelli and two-wheeled riders across various other disciplines for a race on-board Honda 125Fs, which provided yet more entertainment for this enthusiastic crowd. The four-man team format saw riders hand the bike over after a lap of the circuit, with Jett Lawrence’s crew getting the win in a good-natured race.

Saving the best for last, every bike and car, then took to doing a lap of the Motegi road-circuit, before performing a customary burnout on the start straight in front of the massive crowd. It was a great finale to a great event that truly showcases the strength and depth of Honda Racing Corporation.

Tim Gajser: I had a lot of fun this year at this event. In the past, I’ve been the only motocross rider, but this year having Ruben, Jett and Hunter with me, really made it enjoyable. We all got on so well and the racing activities were a lot of fun. It is always cool to meet the other riders and drivers because although we do different sports, we all share the love for racing and machinery and know what each other sacrifices to get where we are today. Thank you to everyone who came out over the weekend and thank you to all the Honda fans worldwide who support us. We really couldn’t do what we do without all of you.      

Ruben Fernandez: This was my first trip to Japan and I had a great time! I got to spend a day looking around Tokyo, which was awesome and then we had the trip up to Motegi for the Thanks Day. A lot of the other riders are Spanish, so I was able to speak with Marc (Marquez), Joan (Mir), Gabriel (Marcelli) a lot and that is always good. It was also cool to get to know the Lawrence brothers outside of the race environment. We had a lot of fun racing, but also just enjoying being around all the cool bikes and doing the stuff that got us interested in the sport to begin with. I really hope I can come back next year and do this again, and hopefully see even more of Japan.