Honda challenged the 1961 season with refined machines -. In the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix, Tom Phillis rode his 125cc RC143 - last year’s model - to Honda’s first victory, and continued his charge from Round 3 to tally 8 wins out of 11 grands prix.
In the 250cc class, the RC162’s output was increased to 160PS per liter. Honda was taking firm steps towards championship victory: In Round 2 (West German Grand Prix), Kunimitsu Takahashi rode his RC162 for Honda’s first 250cc win. This also made Takahashi the first Japanese rider to win a grand prix. At the French Grand Prix which followed, Tom Phillis was once again victorious, and at the 1961 Isle of Man TT (Round 4 this year) the RC162, later to be tagged “frightening” by the British press, set lap record after lap record, dominating the top 5 spots, and completed the race with an average race time faster than the 350cc machines for a historic victory. The RC162 continued to perform, winning a total of 10 races.
In 1961, 7 years since its Isle of Man TT declaration, Honda had won the riders' and constructors' titles in both the 125cc and 250cc classes.