Since the official Honda team returned to the Dakar Rally in 2013 after a 23-year absence, one of the team bikes will, for the first time, do so with the number one emblazoned on its fairings. Monster Energy Honda Team will be seeking to replicate the feat achieved by Ricky Brabec last year, as they face a new goal and a new challenge.
The fanfare has long ceased to sound. The greatest sensations of joy and satisfaction are now history, with THE DREAM of winning the Dakar having finally been fulfilled. Now, almost a year on, last year’s triumphant team is poised to reassert itself in the great challenge which tests competitors, machines and equipment to their absolute limits.
Monster Energy Honda Team is already in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, sitting out the final hours of lockdown in the hotel, after the final COVID-19 testing, ahead of the day of scrutineering.
The team is all set to do battle in the 2021 Dakar Rally in a bid to hold on to the title clinched last year by American Ricky Brabec. Recent months have seen the team undergo very thorough pre-race preparations in order to arrive at the world’s toughest race in the best possible conditions.
Ricky Brabec, José Ignacio Cornejo, Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda are the four factory riders lining up for the Monster Energy Honda Team, all having managed to finish the most recent edition of the Dakar. The squad arrives at the Dakar in top physical shape, hoping to relive the sensation of lifting the Dakar winner’s bronze Touareg prize.
The Honda CRF450 RALLY, adorning the number 1
Honda will once again carry the number 1 on its fairing for the first time in over 30 years. Gilles Lalay won the Dakar back in 1989 and no other Honda rider has since adorned the plaque until 2021. The American rider’s CRF450 RALLY now proudly sports the winner’s decals. Ricky Brabec will be accompanied by three other top-class riders: Chilean José Ignacio Cornejo (#4), fourth last year, who has proven to be a valuable asset, adapting well to the Saudi Arabian terrain. Alongside, will be Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides (#47), runner-up in 2018. He will be another rider aspiring to claim the overall victory and arrives on top form this year after a win at the Andalucia Rally. No introduction necessary for Joan Barreda (#88). By now a Dakar rider of legendary status, having participated eleven times and the current competing rider with the highest number of stage wins under his belt: 24.
The 2021 Dakar Rally begins on January 3 in Jeddah and is set to finish in the same Saudi Arabian city on the 15th of the same month after a total 7,649-kilometre trek, to include some 4,767 kilometres against the clock.