For the first time in the history of the legendary Dakar Rally, an American stands atop the podium in the bikes division. Monster Energy Honda's Ricky Brabec finished second in the 12th and final stage today which was enough to capture his first Dakar crown. The stage was won by Brabec's teammate Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, but it was another fellow teammate, Kevin Benavides, who waited at KM19 for Brabec in today's stage to help guide him safely to victory in the167km special. Once crossing the line, the two celebrated with the team.
Brabec had come close to winning Dakar in prior years but engine troubles would ultimately kill those chances. No such issues for the Honda team this year as they have dethroned KTM's nearly two decades of dominance at Dakar and won the Rally for the first time since 1989. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla ended the Rally second with 2019 Dakar champion Toby Price rounding out the podium on his Red Bull KTM.
Three Americans finished inside of the top ten in the final general classification as Skyler Howes and Andrew Short finished 9th and 10th, respectively. Howes actually won the A.S.O. Non-Elites class as the top finishing motorcycle rider without full factory support in the Rally.
A momentous day in the American motorcycle world, and one that Ricky Brabec won't soon forget.
"It’s a dream come true," Brabec said in a press release. "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 kilometres. 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."
Main Image: DPPI Media / Dakar Rally