Californian Ricky Brabec, riding a Honda CRF 450 Rally for the Motul-backed Monster Energy Honda Team 2020, became the first-ever American winner of the Dakar motorcycle category, ending KTM’s 18-year domination of the grueling event.
Over the twelve stages, Brabec never relinquished his grip on the top of the General Classification after winning Stage 3, the loop stage around Neom.
The American’s triumph was the culmination of several years of heart-wrenching Dakar moments. After a promising ninth-place finish as a Dakar rookie back in 2016, he achieved his first Stage win at Uyuni in the Bolivian salt flats the following year.
However, he subsequently had to withdraw, followed by failures to complete both the 2018 and 2019 events.
A tactical race
This year Brabec rode a very tactical race, supported by his team mates Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda Bort, which saw his rivals – notably Pablo Quintanilla – eat into his accumulated lead over the last couple of stages. However, despite their best efforts, Brabec had already done more than enough by then to ensure victory.
Winning didn’t come unexpectedly to the Californian native, who before the race said: “Being in the position I was during the 2019 Dakar let me know that I can win and that I will win soon. I am very confident. The goal for Dakar is to win. I expect nothing less.”
Following Brabec’s victory, Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa, said: “Motul is proud to have played a part in Ricky Brabec’s victory by once again supporting the Monster Energy Honda Team. Ricky has shown remarkable perseverance in overcoming previous setbacks and injuries, and his tenacity has served as a wonderful example to all the competitors – especially the self-supported riders in the Original by Motul Category.”