It has been 31 years since Honda won the Dakar and no American had ever won the greatest rally raid on Earth before. Ricky Brabec and his Honda 450 CRF made history in Qiddiya last Friday as the Californian moved into the lead after the third special and cleverly defended his advantage throughout the remaining stages.
L-R: Pablo Quintanilla of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, Ricky Brabec of Monster Energy Honda and Toby Price of Red Bull KTM
In contrast with last year, when his motorbike let him down with three stages to go, this time it worked like clockwork all the way to the finish line. It is a well-deserved reward for a biker who always tackled the race head-on, but also for Honda, which reaped the fruits of its labor since its official return to the Dakar in 2013.
The 2020 Dakar Rally covered some 5,000 kilometers of timed special stage and a total distance of 7,800 kilometers, where, in addition to the two Brabec stage victories (stages 3 and 6), can be added those of José Ignacio Cornejo (stage 4 and stage 12), Kevin Benavides (stage 7) and Joan Barreda (stage 10), as well as plenty of top partial times, with the Honda squad seizing podium lock-outs on both stages 3 and 10.
This represents the sixth Honda victory at the Dakar Rally after the five clinched in Africa, the most recent occurring 31 years ago: Ciryl Neveu (1982, 1986, 1987), Edi Orioli (1988) y Gilles Lalay (1989) took the previous top honors. In 2013, Honda returned to the Dakar Rally after a 23-year absence. During that eight-year spell, Team HRC has been on the final podium on two occasions: Paulo Gonçalves (2015) and Kevin Benavides (2018) both in runner-up positions.
This year's win for Honda has allowed it to end KTM's 18-win streak that goes back to 2001.