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Honda Dakar Challenge (2013-2020)

  • Dealernews
  • Feb 17, 2020


Exactly one month ago on January 17, 2020, American Ricky Brabec rewarded Monster Energy Honda Team with a long-awaited Dakar Rally win, eight years after the squad’s return. This video chronicles the history of Honda’s participation in the Dakar Rally, starting in 2013, after a 23-year absence. Honda returned with did so with a trio of riders: Hélder Rodrigues, Javier Pizzolito and Johnny Campbell. All three competitors made it to the finish-line with Portuguese Hélder Rodrigues, finishing in a well-deserved seventh overall position.

In 2014, now featuring Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves, Hélder Rodrigues, Javier Pizzolito and Sam Sunderland, the team was able to demonstrate their full potential, winning various stages and jostling among the front runners in a bid for the final victory. Hélder Rodrigues went on to finish fifth overall.

In 2015 the team was joined by Laia Sanz and Jeremías Israel, who alongside Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves and Hélder Rodrigues were to feature in numerous key moments of the race. Laia Sanz claimed the best ever Dakar result for a female rider, posting ninth overall position. Barreda fell victim to the notorious Uyuni salt flats. The star of the show instead turned out to be Paulo Gonçalves, who finished runner-up.

The 2016 team saw American Ricky Brabec as well as Frenchman Michael Metge and Italian Paolo Ceci, fill out the ranks along with Barreda and Gonçalves. However It Kevin Benavides, a rider supported by Honda, who ended up in claiming fourth final place.

In 2017, the structure underwent a slight modification with the addition of Argentine star Kevin Benavides to an already solid team (Barreda, Gonçalves, Metge, Brabec), although in the end, the rider, who hails from Salta, Argentina would miss out on the event due to an untimely injury just a month prior to the race start. The rider with the most stage wins under his belt and still currently active, Joan Barreda, would post fifth overall position.

In the Dakar 2018, Paulo Gonçalves was forced to drop out at the last moment, leaving way for a young José Ignacio Cornejo to enter as part of the official HRC factory team shortly after. In this edition, Kevin Benavides put his previous year’s absence behind him to go on to claim a brilliant runner-up position.

In 2019, the final Dakar in South America, Monster Energy Honda Team, featuring Kevin Benavides, Ricky Brabec, Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves and José Ignacio Cornejo, proved to be the main protagonists, leading the rally over several days. As the odyssey drew to a close, Benavides, finishing fifth, was the best of the bunch.

With the arrival of 2020, so arrived the third chapter of the Dakar story, moving from South America to the Middle East, and Honda’s Dakar triumph. The team made up of Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda, José Ignacio Cornejo, Aaron Maré and Ricky Brabec saw the American excel from day three and never relinquished the lead. The Californian raised the coveted bronze Tuareg trophy as winner of the Rally Dakar on January 17, 2020 in Qiddiyah, Saudi Arabia.


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