If you can't beat them, join them. Honda had campaigned the iconic RC45 at WSB 1995-1999, whilst it did win one title in the hands of John Kocinski the Ducati 916 series had the upper hand.
A 1000cc limit for twins (two cylinder) vs 750cc for the fours (four cylinder) led Honda to build their own 1000 twin to take on the iconic Ducati.
What Motorcyle News
"It doesn't boom into life in the style of an Italian V-twin. Instead, the 999cc Honda motor comes alive with a muted, muffled tone. But, blip the throttle, let the revs rise and you're in business. The upswept exhausts deliver a deep rumbling symphony – it sounds like a twin, but there is no lumpiness or vibration like there is with a Ducati.”
Also designated the RC51, this was a product of HRC (Honda racing Corporation) rather than mainstream Honda. It was built to win and it did.
2000 resulted in a WSB title with Colin Edwards and Formula 1 TT success with Joey Dunlop. From 1997 Honda went on a 10 year winning streak at Suzuka, including 4 for the SP/RC51. Success came in world endurance with a title in 2001.