Ricky Brabec wins the 2024 Dakar Rally with Adrien Van Beveren on the podium
|7,967 km of rallying across Saudi Arabia came to a conclusion by the breathtaking Red Sea at Yanbu with Monster Energy Honda Team’s Ricky Brabec taking the top step of the Dakar for a second time, making history as the only American to do so.
After spending much of the first week amongst the front runners, the 2020 winner took the reins after the gruelling 48 Hour Chrono and despite a one second margin to second place Ross Branch at the end of stage seven, the Californian never looked back and rode to a faultless Dakar win with nearly eleven minutes in hand.
In what has been a calm and collected display throughout the rally by the 32 year old, he also added another stage win to the ten he has already collected in his Dakar career to date and leaves round one at the top of the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship standings.
At his ninth attempt of the Dakar, Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren stood on the podium that has eluded him over the past few years after taking a hard fought 48 Hour Chrono stage victory, the sand specialist found his rhythm in the second week and had an immense battle with Ross Branch and teammate José Ignacio Cornejo for the podium. Despite a near miss with a camel yesterday, he fought right to the end for the runner-up spot but had to make do with the final podium place.
One of two Chilean riders in the Monster Energy Honda Team, ‘Nacho’ Cornejo had one of his career best performances at the famous rally, from the off he led in the standings and racked up a hat-trick of magnificent stage victories, also fighting for an elusive podium. Unfortunately a fuel pump issue put paid to his fight yesterday and his final sixth place did not reflect on what a truly outstanding performance he produced.
His fellow Chilean, Pablo Quintanilla has been the runner up twice at the Dakar and as the most experienced member of the team was eager to turn his twelfth participation into victory. Unfortunately for the Dakar Legend, the 48 Hour Chrono would put paid to his chances when he ran short of fuel on the first day of the tough stage. Despite the disappointment he battled on helping his teammates and also taking valuable points in the World Rally-Raid Championship.
With the new generation Honda CRF450 RALLY now a rally winner, the Monster Energy Honda Team put on a powerful display on their first outing in 2024 as the stage wins racked up over the course of the two weeks. Tosha Schareina opened proceedings with the prologue victory, Nacho Cornejo gained the accolade of the most stage wins this year with three, Adrien Van Beveren banked two and Pablo Quintanilla and Ricky Brabec took one apiece to make seven in all.
With the team fully deserving of some rest and recuperation, they will reconvene in April for the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in Portugal from 2nd – 7th April.
It’s a nice way to start the year with a victory. It wasn’t easy as the course was really tough and so was the competition. Ross and my own team kept me on my toes, but not just me, I think we were keeping everyone on each other’s toes. It was definitely a fight to the end for everyone. I’m really happy we’re all here and all safe and we can go home. This time was a little bit different as I feel like this one was more earned as it was a lot tougher. In 2020, we had a big gap from the get-go. Here, I think me and Ross spent three days with a couple of seconds difference. It was a tight race for all of us. I think between first and third there are eleven minutes or something, whatever Adrien got, but it’s been a tight race and ten minutes is not a big gap here on the rally. I had two good days, two opportunities to make a good push, but also stage 11 was a scare factor for me because I knew Ross was starting behind me, 18 minutes behind, and if he caught me it would be over. Stage 11 was hard but I stayed focused, got to the finishing line and didn’t lose too much time, so I’m really happy with this and I’m really happy for the team. I’m happy for all of us, we did an excellent job all of the two weeks. I think number 9 will be my lucky number from now on.