Over 30 years have passed since Honda last triumphed in the Dakar Rally. In 2020, Monster Energy Honda Team has once again laid claim to the coveted bronze Tuareg prize. Ricky Brabec makes history to become the first-ever American to win the world’s toughest and cruelest rally.
After eight years in pursuit of glory, the dream has finally come true. Ricky Brabec rewarded Honda with a much-desired victory. Honda had returned to the Dakar in 2013 after a 23-year absence, yet after numerous stage wins and two overall runner-up spots, the principle objective remained elusive. However, on an eighth attempt in the 2020 edition, success finally materialized. The result is, without doubt, the fruit of much long-term work by engineers, mechanics, and riders, who have spared no effort to accomplish the mission of outright victory in the Dakar Rally.
Today, on the final 12th stage, Ricky Brabec made history by becoming the first American to have his name inscribed amongst the winners of the planet’s most grueling odyssey. Brabec dominated the rally from start to finish, and today, after finishing the final special stage in second place, was able to seal the victory that he sought over the past five campaigns: overall winner of the Dakar Rally 2020. The Monster Energy Honda Team ace snatched the lead on day three and refused to relinquish the top spot until the race wrapped up, two stage victories and 5000 kilometers later.
Brabec’s success is likewise the success of Honda, whose riders held top positions throughout the rally. Jose Ignacio Cornejo, the winner of the final stage, posted fourth overall and Joan Barreda seventh after the previous day’s engine swap. Kevin Benavides recounted good sensations and finished 19th overall.
STAGE: 2nd FINAL: 1st
It’s a dream come true. “Hopefully we can come back next year and repeat it. I know that it’s not going to be easy as the Husky and KTM boys will be breathing down our necks. I’m really excited to be here for Honda and for America as well. To be the only American to accomplish this goal is amazing. I think it’s really a dream come true. Now we’ve got to set our goals higher and accomplish more. We are going to come back next year and try and repeat this but, as I said, it’s not easy. We are happy. It was a big, tough race. A lot of kilometers. The team worked great together. The riders were good and the whole team worked well together so I’m really happy. The bikes were really good. We are all here. We are all happy and safe. That was the first goal. I can’t thank everyone enough – Honda, Monster and every one of the sponsors behind us. Thank you all so much. It’s the first time in Saudi Arabia. The scenery was insane! I love it. Hopefully, I’ll be back next year. I’ve got a five-year contract so I think we’ll be back.”
Jose Ignacio Cornejo
STAGE: 1st FINAL: 4th
“Today’s stage was short but intense. I battled it out with Walkner and Luciano Benavides. They started out in front of me, so I started the special very focused, trying to reduce the time. In the end, I didn’t make any mistakes and was able to win the final stage of the Dakar, and thus finish fourth in the general standings. I’m very happy with the way the entire rally went. The team has finally achieved the victory we were looking for after so many years. I’m very happy with the whole team, they have worked so hard.”
I want to dedicate this Dakar to two people: Paulo, who lost his life doing what he loved best, and my father who also passed away and would very much have liked to see this Honda victory. This Dakar has not been easy after the loss of our friend Paulo Gonçalves. Personally he was a great friend of mine with whom I shared many things in common; it hasn’t been at all easy.
Congratulations to the team riders, who all performed greatly. It was a pity about Kevin who had the issue with the bike and was not in the running for the victory. Joan Barreda, who started with an injury, gave it everything day after day and fought until the end. And Jose Ignacio Cornejo also did a spectacular job, winning two stages, which shows the determination and commitment that Nacho has to this work.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has claimed second overall at the 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. Earning his best result at the event by putting in an excellent performance over the entire 12 stages on his Husqvarna FR 450 Rally machine, Pablo bettered his third-place 2016 performance to award Husqvarna their highest ever event result to date. Teammate Andrew Short fought back from a tough first week to place 10th on the final stage, earning himself 10th overall in the race standings.
Winner of the penultimate stage, Pablo Quintanilla went into the 12th and final day of racing in Saudi Arabia with a 13-minute deficit on the race leader. Despite having the unenviable task of leading riders out into the final 374-kilometer special, he put in a superb ride from the front, opening the entire stage to ultimately finish fifth, just over three minutes down on the eventual stage winner. In claiming second, Quintanilla secured his best ever result at the Dakar, which, following the injury sustained at last year’s event, is a massive achievement.
Andrew Short endured a tricky start to his 2020 Dakar Rally campaign – a crash on stage two that resulted in damaged navigational equipment meant time lost for the American and a 30-minute penalty after being forced to fix it at the start of the following day’s stage. Nevertheless, the former supercross star regrouped and gave his best right to the end of the event. Claiming 10th on the final stage to safely bring his Husqvarna FR 450 Rally home in a commendable 10th overall, Andrew enjoyed the race and was pleased with his overall performance
Pablo Quintanilla: “I feel amazing. To spend most of 2019 in recovery and now to be here with my best ever result makes me extremely grateful. I never thought that I would be in this position at the beginning of the race. I would like to thank the team for their hard work over these two weeks – they have done an amazing job. Overall, my race has gone really well, it’s been a tough event for everybody, and the main goal was always to reach the finish. A podium at the Dakar is like a dream come true, especially after such a hard one this year. I still want that win so I’ll work hard and be back next year.”
Andrew Short: “I’m really happy to get to the end of this year’s Dakar – it’s been a long race, good fun, but very tough for me, I had a lot of challenges. The first week in the north was beautiful – I’ve never raced anywhere like it. I had some issues in those first few days that really put me on the back foot for the rest of the event. It took a lot out of me as you prepare all year for this race and to have such a big knock so early on was tough. This is only my third Dakar and I’m still learning. A two-week event like this is certainly different to a one-week world championship event and you have to be able to gauge your speed the whole way through. I definitely want to be back here next year for Dakar 2021”
Results Stage 12
|1||CORNEJO Jose Ignacio||17||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||01:28’15|
|2||BRABEC Ricky||9||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+00’53|
|3||PRICE Toby||1||AUS||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+02’25|
|4||BENAVIDES Luciano||16||ARG||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+03’09|
|5||QUINTANILLA Pablo||5||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+03’23|
|6||BENAVIDES Kevin||7||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+03’53|
|7||METGE Adrien||11||FRA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+03’53|
|8||CAIMI Franco||22||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha||+04’14|
|9||GIEMZA Maciej||35||POL||Orlen Team||Husqvarna||+04’33|
|10||SHORT Andrew||6||USA||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||+04’57|
|16||BARREDA Joan||12||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+06’41|
Results Dakar Rally 2020
|1||BRABEC Ricky||9||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||40:02’36|
|2||QUINTANILLA Pablo||5||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+16’26|
|3||PRICE Toby||1||AUS||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+24’06|
|4||CORNEJO Jose Ignacio||17||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+31’43|
|5||WALKNER Matthias||2||AUT||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+35’00|
|6||BENAVIDES Luciano||16||ARG||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+37’34|
|7||BARREDA Joan||12||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+50’57|
|8||CAIMI Franco||22||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha||+01:42’35|
|9||HOWES Skyler||59||USA||Klymciw Racing||KTM||+02:04’01|
|10||SHORT Andrew||6||USA||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||+02:10’40|
Photo gallery photos courtesy of Honda and Husqvarna (Hus photos by: Rally Zone)