Honda rally star Ricky Brabec denied KTM two decades of Dakar dominance, winning the 2020 edition and becoming the first American to win the classic desert race in its 40 year history.
This year’s race was held in Saudi Arabia and Brabec won two of the 12 stages in the 5000 kilometre marathon, although the race was overshadowed by the death of popular Portuguese rider Paolo Goncalves, the 2015 runner-up, during the seventh stage. Goncalves, 40, crashed on a high speed section between Riyadh and Wadi Al Dawasir and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.
Last year’s winner Toby Price was first on the scene of Goncalves’ accident. The Australian had been nine minutes behind Brabec going into the sixth stage but stopped to help his stricken rival, waiting until the air ambulance arrived. The KTM rider was unable to recover the gap to the leader and ended up third, 24 minutes down on the winner and behind second placed Pablo Quintanilla, the Argentinian Husqvarna rider.
Brabac was understandably delighted at winning the world’s most gruelling motorcycle race, saying: “It’s a dream come true. Hopefully we can come back next year and repeat it. I know that it’s not going to be easy as the Husky and KTM boys will be breathing down our necks. 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. We are going to come back next year and try and repeat this but, as I said, it’s not easy. We are happy. It was a big, tough race. A lot of kilometres. 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. It’s the first time in Saudi Arabia. The scenery was insane! I love it. Hopefully I’ll be back next year. I’ve got a five-year contract so I think we’ll be back.”
Britain’s Sam Sunderland led after the second stage but crashed out on stage five and was unable to continue after fracturing five vertebrae and his left shoulder.
Manx rider Jamie McCanney got his Yamaha to the line in 15th on his Dakar debut, while Husqvarna-riding Craig Keyworth was another British debutant who made it through all 12 gruelling stages.
|1||BRABEC Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||40:02’36|
|2||QUINTANILLA Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+16’26|
|3||PRICE Toby||AUS||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+24’06|
|4||CORNEJO José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+31’43|
|5||WALKNER Matthias||AUT||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+35’00|
|6||BENAVIDES Luciano||ARG||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+37’34|
|7||BARREDA Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+50’57|
|8||CAIMI Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha||+01:42’35|
|9||HOWES Skyler||USA||Klymciw Racing||KTM||+02:04’01|
|10||SHORT Andrew||USA||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||+02:10’40|