Monster Energy Honda Team rider Ricky Brabec today rode his factory CRF450 RALLY to overall motorcycle class victory in the final, 12th stage of the Dakar Rally 2020 which had moved to Saudi Arabia from this edition. His win gave Honda its first Dakar victory in 31 years, since its last win in 1989.

The 28-year-old American rider Ricky Brabec 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 José Ignacio Cornejo finished 4th overall, and Joan Barreda 7th, 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 8th 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 percent was in the desert), in 12 stages* in 13 days.

* Stage 8 of the Motorcycle Class was cancelled due to the tragic death of Paulo Goncalves in Stage 7.

Ricky Brabec | Monster Energy Honda Team

“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. The bikes were really good in today’s final stage, and our main goal was for everyone to get here safely. I can’t thank everybody enough. The Honda team, and everybody that stands behind us, I thank all of you. I’m also deeply grateful to my teammate until last year, Paulo Goncalves. This was the first time for the event in Saudi Arabia, and the scenery was insane. I love it! We’re going to be back next year!”

Yoshishige Nomura | Honda Racing Corporation President

“First, I would like to congratulate Ricky Brabec on his victory. Also, I thank Joan [Barreda], Kevin [Benavides] and José [Ignacio Cornejo] on their fine performances. And finally, I thank the team staff and development team for making this win possible. This is the 8th year since we returned to the Dakar, and we’ve finally won. We have learnt from our losses, and the cumulative effort of everyone involved over the past seven years gave us this wonderful result. The relentless work of every member, in other words, a Team Honda effort, made this possible. We must not forget that Paulo [Goncalves] contributed immensely to the first six years, and we thank him, and pray he rests in peace. We are also deeply grateful to all of our sponsors, and our fans worldwide.”

Honda’s Achievements at the Dakar Rally

Year Best result Rider Nationality Bike
1986 Win Cyril Neveu France NXR750
1987 Win Cyril Neveu France NXR750
1988 Win Edi Orioli Italy NXR750
1989 Win Gilles Lalay France NXR750
* Honda did not compete in the Dakar from 1990 to 2012
2013 7th Helder Rodrigues Portugal CRF450 RALLY
2014 5th Helder Rodrigues Portugal CRF450 RALLY
2015 2nd Paulo Gonçalves Portugal CRF450 RALLY
2016 4th Kevin Benavides Argentina CRF450 RALLY
2017 5th Joan Barreda Spain CRF450 RALLY
2018 2nd Kevin Benavides Argentina CRF450 RALLY
2019 7th José Ignacio Cornejo Chile CRF450 RALLY
2020 Win Ricky Brabec U.S.A. CRF450 RALLY
Dakar Rally

Dakar, Dakar (multiple countries)

Rally 2020