Camel Honda has been a prestigious name at the pole position of GP motorcycle racing. In a lifespan that has lasted 20 odd years, the team has seen 27 GP wins in the 250, 500 and MotoGP classes with another 98 podium finishes.
Sito Pons won the 250cc championships in 1968 to bring the team their first honour. He also got them second place at the 250cc championships as well as the 250cc World Title two years later. Pons was incredible in his Championship winning runs against a strong Juan Garriga. He repeated his feat in the next year and moved up to the 500cc class.
The team was renamed Honda Pons when Sito took over as part owner after his retirement in 1992. Alex Criville, a former 125cc champion was brought on board and he became the first Spaniard to win the 500cc World Championships after a historic battle in Holland.
The team continued in the 500cc class as well as came back to the 250cc series. Alberto Puig initially joined the Honda Pons team as a 250cc rider in 1993. A sad end after a serious crash at Le Mans ended his career and Carlos Checa was hired to join the 250cc class and eventually replace the injured Puig. Puig and Criville, together rode in the 500cc championships in 1996 but after Puig’s retirement, John Kocinski came into the side. But it was Checa who kept them in the running with an impressive fourth place finish in the championships.
The team had a few more names like Alex Barros and Juan Borja who represented them in 1999 and the Brazilian took 4th place in the following season. In 2000, Barros got a new teammate in Italian Loris Capirossi, a former 125cc and 250cc World Champion. The team almost won the championship with Capirossi and Barros in the squad. Capirossi came third whereas Barros was fourth overall but both notched up impressive results throughout the season.
In the first MotoGP season in 2002, Barros and Capirossi were still asked to use the two stroke Honda NSR bikes. These bikes couldn’t match the performance of the more powerful four-strokes but it was when they got a four-stroke Honda for Barros that things started changing. The Brazilian won two races and had 4 other podiums to finish the season in fourth. Capirossi rode the two-stroke to eighth place and had two podium finishes.
The team changed names again to the Camel Pramac Pons team and with Biaggi and Ukawa, were looking to put in a stronger challenge to the title. Unfortunately, Biaggi could only manage a third place with Ukawa at eight. The team finished second, its best ever in the MotoGP class.
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