One number, one story – 55 for National Motos
The National Motos bike is instantly recognizable on the track. The blue and yellow Honda has been emblazoned with the number 55 since 2006, the year the team won the 24 Heures Motos.
National Motos are the oldest French team in the endurance championship. Pipo Baldit, a Honda dealer in the Paris region, created the team in 1971. Since then, National Motos have lined up at the start of at least one of the two French races (the 24 Heures Motos and the Bol d’Or) every year, except in 2016.
The team – composed of volunteers – made their mark in 1992 at the 24 Heures Motos, climbing the third step of the podium with a line-up comprising Guy Bertin, Adrien Morillas and Arnaud de Puniet (the father of former MotoGP rider Randy de Puniet). Back then, National Motos often used the number 5: Pipo’s lucky number. The team claimed more and more Top 10 spots with each passing season, finishing 4th at the 24 Heures Motos and 5th at the Bol d’Or in 2005.
In 2006, National Motos had to cede the number 5 to one of the world championship’s full-season teams. The team on the blue and yellow Honda simply added a 5, sporting the number 55 at the start of the 24 Heures Motos, which they proceeded to win with riders Frédéric Protat, Olivier Four and Dani Ribalta.
Ever since 2006, Honda National Motos have stuck to the number 55, and now race the full season of the FIM Endurance World Championship.
On Pipo’s demise at the end of 2012, his son Stéphane and the National Motos crew continued the challenge he had taken up in the 1970s: fighting for the win alongside the factory-backed teams while also training up young riders.
The National Motos dealership recently turned 50, and the third generation is waiting in the wings. Stéphane and his half-brother Eric took over from Pipo, and now Stéphane’s sons Luc and Nicolas, aged 20 and 23 respectively, have also joined National Motos.