Ricky Brabec and Honda win the 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia – commanding rider and team performance means first victory for the USA.
Taking an emphatic final stage second place, the American Ricky Brabec has claimed his first Dakar Rally victory today in Saudi Arabia, bringing an end to 18 orange years at the event and to claim the first victory for a rider from the USA.
Speaking at the stage 12 finish, Ricky said: “At the end, we put the pieces to the puzzle together. We couldn’t do it without every rider in the team. I’m really happy. It’s my fifth Dakar, my second time finishing…
“I woke up this morning just happy to ride the last day. And we’re here. We won! We had to be smart and focused every day. There’s no top guy on the team, we all work together, we’re a family. We all won.”
The win is Honda’s first for 31 years, eight years after they returned to the Dakar as a factory race team. The final stage 12 was won by Honda Racing’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo in a time of 1h:28:15s with his teammate Brabec right on his tail, 53 seconds behind.
Putting up a solid fight to defend his Dakar crown and KTM’s 18 year victory parade, Toby Price was 2m:25s back on a stage which sees him third overall. “Definitely, it’s not the result we came for, but after the week we’ve had I’m quite glad to keep my podium streak going.” Says the Australian. “Every time I’ve lined up and I’ve made the finish line, I’ve been on a podium step. This, for me, is a big achievement, especially after these two weeks being tough.”
Speaking about how the rally went overall, Price looked back at an eventful two weeks: “Some things were out of my control. I lost 16 minutes with a bib-mousse falling apart, for example. On the first day I had the roadbook lock up and it tore on me and stage seven is one that I will remember forever for Paulo.
“But we’re at the finish line safe and we’ll go home and hopefully come back bigger and stronger next year.”
Pablo Quintanilla was fifth but held firm his second place overall on a stage which actually threw some navigation problems for riders right to the last. Speaking at the finish, the Chiliean was amazed to finish in the position he did given his injuries last year: “I gave it everything until the last kilometre. It’s an amazing feeling. I just wanted to thank everyone, my team, my family, my friends and everyone supporting me during this time. The race was tight. Being in [second] position, I already feel like a winner.
“The main goal was to finish on the bike without injuries. Honestly, when we started the race I never thought that I would be in the front, but in the end things started to happen. I really enjoyed every day of this Dakar. For me, this was the key to being happy.”
Top privateer award for Skyler Howe
Behind the rare and refreshing result at the top of the time sheets which includes three different manufacturers on the podium, the fights within the fight has been every bit as intense. To be second best USA rider overall is no mean achievement but to also grab the best performing privateer award makes Skyler Howes a standout performer.
After a Funnelweb filter-testing week in the thick of the top-20, ninth place overall for Howes ahead of his compatriot Andrew Short came after a tough but solid week for the Klymciw Racing rider.
Betriu wins battle for best rookie
Almost as intense as the race at the top was the battle for best rookie award raging all two weeks between, Jaume Betriu, Martin Michek and for the latter half of the rally, Jamie McCanney.
Through consistent performances across all the stages, Spaniard Betriu made the successful transition from Enduro to rally with 14th overall.
Just over 10 minutes behind after a very solid second week, Jamie McCanney finishes his first Dakar with a strong of top 10 stage results to place 15th overall.
Sanz achieves legend status
Like we didn’t already think of Laia Sanz as a legend, but the off road queen has officially attained that status in completing her 10th Dakar Rally today. Adding to that fact (and the long list of statistics Laia can already lay claim to) is that she is the first Spanish rider to start and finish 10 consecutive Dakars. Think about the Spanish racers in this race’s history and that is some achievement.
Taking to the podium in 18th place, Sanz said: “I will remember a lot about this Dakar. Of course, I will remember Paulo, a true Dakar warrior. So, I have mixed emotions.
“I will also remember it because it is the race that I managed to start and finish my 10th consecutive Dakar, this is something I am very proud of. I think I’m the first Spanish rider to do that.”
Speaking about her 10th Dakar, Sanz says she made life hard with a crash on the first marathon stage: “It’s not been the best for me in terms of my overall result – after my crash on stage two I was riding in a lot of dust and the average speed was a little too high for me during the second week. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and want to thank all the GasGas Factory Racing team for their support.”
Dakar Rally 2020, Saudi Arabia, overall results after 12th and final stage:Photo Credit: Rally Zone + F. Flamand/F. Le Floc'h/ASO Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.email@example.com