The Rally Dakar 2016 finished today in Rosario with three Honda riders up amidst rally raid’s elite: Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec have proved to be two of the sport’s bright lights for the future.
Kevin Benavides of Honda South America Rally Team and Ricky Brabec of Team HRC concluded the adventure in the top ten of the general standings at the close of the Rally Dakar 2016; Adrien Metge was eleventh overall. For all of them, this had been the maiden Dakar outing.
The thirteenth and final stage of the rally consolidated rider’s overall positions in the general rankings, with the 180 kilometre trek to the finish-line in Rosario, not enough to allow any major upsets to the previous day’s standings. Ricky Brabec was particularly attentive over the final stretch on his Dakar debut, but held a steady, fast rhythm throughout to post eighth place on the day. The American rider, who managed to take ninth overall position, had good cause to celebrate, with the Californian an expert in desert races churning out consistently fine performances. Brabec, 24, took a well-deserved top ten place, especially given that he had been out of racing for five months after a serious accident in an American rally in 2015.
Italian Paolo Ceci, 40, completed his double objective for the Dakar well: firstly, he made it through the whole 9000 km ordeal until the Rosario finish-line, and secondly, was able to aid his team-mates on numerous crucial occasions. Ceci was fundamental in various stages, having to tow Paulo Gonçalves and Joan Barreda when they ran into different problems. Paolo Ceci has become something of Team HRC’s guardian angel and adds another completed Dakar to his honour’s list which now stands at a 100% finish rate for each of his five participations.
Honda South America Rally Team has been the revelation of the Rally Dakar. After the falls suffered by its most veteran components, the inexperienced newcomers took over and stole the show, finishing amongst the big guns. It was Kevin Benavides, 27, whose star shone the brightest, not only for Team HSA, but also for Argentinean motorcycling, as he became the first Argentine ever to win a Dakar stage. Kevin finished in fourth overall place.
Frenchman, Adrien Metge, 29, also of Honda South America Rally Team, by way of Honda Brasil with whom he began racing in 2015, will also go home happy after a more-than-satisfactory Dakar, taking 12ths spot on the day to finish 11th overall.
Ricky Brabec #48 – STAGE: 8th FINAL: 9th: « I’m really excited finishing my first Dakar. I want to come back and do better. I’m excited to be in the team. This is my third rally ever, so that is a huge accomplishment for me. So, finishing in the top ten in my first rally is pretty good and I’m the only rider on the team to get a top ten. So, we’ll see if we can improve and come back next year and do better. Back in June 2015 I had a broken neck and it took a good six month to heal. I was talking to a doctor, eating some special foods and trying to get as much calcium and vitamins as I needed to get back to racing. This is my second race back and the biggest race in the world and I’m happy to have accomplished the goal and get a finish and my medal. »
Paolo Ceci #32 – STAGE: 45th FINAL: 32nd: « I’m happy to have got to the end. I’m satisfied with the result. I worked hard for the team and I did my job. I’m a bit disappointed that my team-mates were unable to finish, but I’m sure that we will be back next year stronger and we will win the race. It has been a great experience to race with the team, a solid one, that always goes in search of a win. »
Kevin Benavides #47 – STAGE: 2nd FINAL: 4th: « It has been a really hard, difficult Dakar, but I have been able to learn a lot from the race. I have arrived at Rosario, which is a dream and in addition I was able to win a stage and be the top rookie in the Dakar. In spite of some mistakes, I have learnt a lot and I believe that for the next one I will do even better. I’m going to continue working to improve every day. »
Adrien Metge #61 – STAGE: 13th FINAL: 11th: « If you had told me a year ago that I would be here in the Dakar and that I would finish eleventh, I would have told you that it was impossible. But here I am, I’ve finished the Dakar and I’m really, really happy about it. I’ve only been competing in rally for a year and this, my first Dakar, leaves me super-satisfied. My aim everyday was to get to the end and that way I was able to make it. The team and the bike no doubt helped a lot in achieving this objective. I have had a great time riding a Honda. »