Ricky Brabec, First American Rider to Win Dakar

 by Michael Satterfield

With a second-place finish in today's final stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally, Ricky Brabec has taken the overall victory on his Monster Energy Honda CRF450. The 28-year-old completed the nearly 5,000-mile route across 11 days of racing, with a combined total time of 40 hours, 2 minutes, 36 seconds, becoming the first American to win the prestigious off-road race.

The 2020 Dakar Rally started on January 5 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia covering 267-miles across 12 stages ended in Qiddiya. This is the first Dakar to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The race which started in 1979 as a rally from Paris France to the Senegalese capital of Dakar, moved to South America in 2009 and no American rider has ever won until Brabec's victory this year. The Southern California native Brabec grew up racing in the Mojave Desert, eventually earning a Baja 1000 win in 2014 and AMA Hare & Hound National Championships in 2014 and 2016.

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…. It was a big, tough race. A lot of kilometers. 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.
Ricky Brabec

It was a bittersweet win for the Monster Energy Honda Team, as rider Paolo Gonçalves lost his life in a Stage 7 crash. Gonçalves was the first competitor to lose their life since Polish motorcycle rider Michal Hernik in Argentina in 2015.

Images via Honda