Ricky Brabec & Honda Make History In The Dakar 2020 Rally
For the first time in history, an American won the motorcycle class in the legendary Dakar Rally, this year held in Saudi Arabia. Ricky Brabac of Hesperia, California took the coveted Tuareg prize astride a Monster Energy Honda CRF450 Rally, the first win for Honda in 31 years. This was Brabec’s fifth attempt in the Dakar race, and only the second time he’s finished it.
The Dakar Rally is considered to be the most demanding, dangerous, and grueling race on the planet. Held almost entirely off-road, the endurance race includes motorcycle, car, truck, quad and UTV categories. The rally is run across 13 days, with 12 stages to complete and 1 day for rest and repairs. The racers daily traditionally must cover distances from 400-600 miles per day. Off-road. Crossing sand dunes, vast open desert, mud, rocks, and “erg”, among other topography. Many never finish all 12 stages. Those who do enjoin themselves to a very small, exclusive club. These are the toughest moto racers in the world.
First begun in 1977, the rally was originally known as the “Paris-Dakar Rally”, starting in the French capital and winding 6,200 miles across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, concluding in the Senegal capital of Dakar. The race was held in this manner until 2008 when it was cancelled for a year due to security fears in Mauritania. The rally then resumed in South America for 10 years before landing in Saudi Arabia for the 2020 race. The race still is known as the “Dakar Rally”, in homage to the origins of the event.
This year’s race spanned 4,660 total miles, beginning in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and finishing in the capital city of Riyadh. The races kicked off January 5 with 560 total competitors across the classes, with podium awards and closing ceremonies taking place January 17. Triumphant and exuberant, Brabec exclaimed, “We finally did it! This victory couldn’t possibly be better for Honda and the team. It was a tough and long race, but the team worked great together… I can’t thank everybody enough.” Brabec was accompanied by his Honda team members Jose Ignacio Cornejo (4th overall), Joan Barreda (7th overall), and Kevin Benavides (19th overall).
Brabec snatched the points lead on day three, and never gave it up, dominating the rally’s motorcycle class from start to finish line. “It’s a dream come true,” Brabec reflected, “We are all here, we are happy and safe… To be the only American to accomplish this goal is amazing!”
We are all proud of you, Ricky. You earned this.
For more on the Dakar Rally, click here-
*Photos sourced from Dakar Rally and Team Honda