Honda’s CB600F was never the pinnacle of Honda’s racing heritage. Though at one point, the Hornet utilized Big Red’s CBR600RR inline-four, the detuned version only produced 94 horsepower (compared to the supersport’s 102 horsepower). The model remains an iconic entry in Honda’s catalog nonetheless.
Even further down the racing ranks, you have the Piaggio Ape. Introduced in 1948 as a cheap form of transportation in Post-War Europe, the three-wheeler functioned as a commercial vehicle. If there’s any doubt about the Ape’s performance prospects, look no further than the model’s available displacements.
The Italian brand originally offered the utilitarian vehicle in 50cc, 125cc, and 150cc configurations. Nowadays, customers can find the Ape with a 218cc gas engine or 422cc diesel engine. Regardless of the mill’s volume or fuel, it was never built to win on the race track. Don’t tell that to Italian racer Loris Rosati, though.
At just 30 years old, the driver/mechanic decided to mash the street-going Honda Hornet with the grocery-getting Piaggio Ape to create one entertaining race rig. However, Rosati didn’t just stuff the CB600F’s inline-four under the hood and call it a day. In true flamboyant fashion, the Hornet-powered Ape dons a special livery resembling the Lightning McQueen character from Pixar’s Cars film series.
Whether it’s the red/orange/yellow livery, number 95, or the molded front “grille”, the three-wheeled racer lives up to Lightning McQueen’s legacy. With Rosati at the helm, this Ape is one nimble drift machine. From sliding through chicanes, bombing down the straights, or tilting the vehicle onto two wheels, the oddball racer puts the four-banger's extra power to good use.
Amusement and amazement abound, it’s difficult not to crack a smile while watching Rosati weave the souped-up Ape through the course, especially when he whips that Honda inline-four into a frenzy. The Hornet and the Piaggio may not push to the front of the grid, but together, they’re a legitimate race outfit.