“I threw my helmet probably as far as I could.” Candid Ricky Brabec interview

Brutally honest interview with America’s newest Rally hero, Ricky Brabec, revealling how tough it was going out of the Dakar 2019, suspension tampering, factory Honda team hierarchies and turning life around to be a genuine contender.


Published straight after Dakar on January 21, 2019, Ricky was fresh off the plane and still raw with the emotions of dropping out of the biggest off road event on the planet with yet another mechanical failure. 

“I had an eight-minute lead, all I had to do was maintain and everything was in our hands” – it is a tough moment in this PulpMX podcast interview with Kris Keefer. 

Brabec talks candidly in a fascinating interview by Keefer on a wide range of subjects including how he concentrated on bike set-up in the pre-Dakar shake-down test in Peru instead of spending time bagging press shots for HRC: “I want to win…I’m not here to blow up a silt corner for a badass photo.” 


Brabec Dakar 2019 portrait Enduro21 560


Other subjects include mysterious suspension adjustments to his bike by a third party in the Dakar bike parc one night, how the Honda Rally team treat riders and racing the National Hare and Hound Series again in 2019. 

Most revealingly Ricky talks about how hard it was to swallow the second engine failure in two years at Dakar: “I took my helmet off, sat on the ground, thought about it, cried a little bit, threw my helmet probably as far as I could.

“I put a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of work, I spent a lot of money training with Jimmy (Jimmy Lewis, Dakar finisher, Baja winner, ISDE gold medalist) and the only thing we’re going home with is a bracelet that lets you eat shitty bivouac food.”


Brabec Dakar 2019 start Enduro21 560


Perhaps the most surprising piece of the conversation with Keefer is when they talk about how Ricky has been treated over time by the Honda Rally team: “I always feel like the underdog, I always feel like the team didn’t really care about me, or even really pay attention to me.

“It’s funny because you feel like as a team you think you should work together as a team but I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys on my team but they always herd to one person. 

“In my eyes that’s not right. If it was me running a team I would give everyone equal respect, equal confidence. I wouldn’t just say, ‘this guy sucks, this guys is doing better – let’s go leave the guy that sucks by himself.

“The team gives you confidence by making you feel comfortable and when you don’t have that it is hard to ride. It’s like going to a job you don’t even like.”

Leading from that towards the end of the interview, things tone down and doors close on the details in this open conversation when Keefer asks about Ricky’s contract with Honda: “Right now I’d rather just not talk about that. I have another year on my contract…” at which point things go quiet.

Could we see Brabec running in a different team in the future? In the near future his eyes are set on the NHHA series with JCR Honda. Certainly it is refreshing to hear such a candid interview and it offers great insight into the man inside this particular helmet. 

Hear the full Pulp MX podcast: pulpmx.com/podcasts


Photo Credit: Monster Energy Honda Rally Team
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester