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       Honda GP Racer RC166
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Having overtaken their European rivals, Honda found itself in the sights of fellow Japanese manufacturers Suzuki and Yamaha. In 1964, Yama¬ha's 2-stroke 2-cylinder bike dethroned Honda's 4-cylinder machine, which had held the 250cc class crown since 1961.

Thus Honda began development of a more powerful 6-cylinder engine with cylinders that had a 41.57cc combustion chamber and 4 valves. It powered the RC165 from the Italian GP in September 1964 but had reliability issues. 1965 saw the 6-cylinder bike entered from the start, but an injury to rider Jim Redman meant the modified 2RC1 65 only achieved 4 wins out of 13 races and the title was ceded to Yamaha again.

This two-year slump ended when Mike Hailwood joined the Honda Team. As a privateer, Hailwood had helped Honda claim its first 250cc class title in 1961, after which he rode for MV Agusta from 1962 and claimed four straight 500cc class titles. Nicknamed "Mike the Bike" for his incredible riding skill, he debuted as a Honda rider with an effortless 250cc class victory at the Japan GP in 1965. However, Hailwood was not satisfied and requested modifications to cope with harder riding.

His input accelerated development and Hailwood rode an improved 3RC165 to victory in the first eight races of the 1966 season, while the new 56.8ps/17,500rpm RC166 was used to win the 10th (Isle of Man) and 11th (Italian GP) races. Hailwood won every 250cc class race he entered to give Honda their first Rider and Manufacturer's Champion-ships since 1963, which contributed to the company's amazing feat of capturing the manufacturers' title in all five classes from 50cc to 500cc. 1967 saw fierce competition between Yamaha's RD05A and Hailwood's RC166, but Hailwood prevailed and defended both of his titles as a fitting finale to Honda's GP racing participation in the 1960s.
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