Ricky Brabec wins Dakar 2020, hands Honda 1st victory in 31 years

Ricky Brabec of Monster Energy Honda Team rode his factory CRF450 RALLY to overall motorcycle class victory in the final, 12th stage of the Dakar Rally 2020 at Riyadh.

His win on Friday gave Honda its first Dakar victory in 31 years. Their last win came in 1989.

The 28-year-old American rider rode his first Dakar Rally in 2016 with Team HRC, making 2020 his fifth attempt.

After winning stage 3 in this year’s edition, Brabec led the overall race, which he defended through solid riding in the subsequent stages, finally achieving his first overall win at the event.

Teammates Jose Ignacio Cornejo finished fourth overall, and Joan Barreda seventh, placing three Monster Energy Honda Team riders in the top 10.

Honda first competed in the third Paris-Dakar Rally in 1981. Its first victory came in 1986 on an NXR750, which was followed by three consecutive wins up to 1989.

Honda left the Dakar the following year, and in 2013, decided to race once again in the Dakar Rally, then held in South America, with its new CRF450 RALLY factory bike.

Despite finishing runner-up in 2015 and 2018, victory had eluded Honda until this year, the eighth attempt after returning to the Dakar in 2013.

The Dakar Rally was first held in 1979, making this year its 42nd edition.

Known as the most dangerous sporting event in the world, this year’s race in Saudi Arabia took drivers and riders over more than 7,000 km (of which 75 per cent was in the desert), in 12 stages over 13 days.

“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. The riders were good, the mechanics were good, the whole team worked really well,” Brabec said.