I don't know all the factors that fed into Honda's decision to take this course, but it looks like the ASO's decision to bump engine sizes down to 450 is paying off. Would Honda have developed a rally bike without the change? Behind the scenes did Honda agree to step-up their efforts if the ASO made the change? Only God knows, and top brass at Honda/ASO . . . well, and probably TSC.
Whether the bike performs extremely well or falls short this January, it's nice to watch a second player join the game.