After a fortnight competing in the world’s toughest race, Monster Energy Honda Team’s campaign ends with a positive scorecard. Throughout the ten disputed stages, the team have clearly shown all the necessary requisites to triumph in the Dakar. The battle goes on.
Joan Barreda, the Monster Energy Honda Team ace, comes away from the Dakar having clinched four stages.
Not only has he proven to be the fastest and most complete all-round rider of the 144 bike category participants who set off from Paraguay, but he also displayed superior navigation skills and made fewer mistakes. Once again Barreda scooped more stage wins than anyone, taking the tally to eighteen and overtaking the previous record-holder Italian Edi Orioli, who won with Honda in 1988. A harsh one-hour penalty for different interpretations of the refuelling guidelines effectively stole the bronze Tuareg from the Spaniard’s hands. Rally’s most promising rider had to accept fifth when the curtain came down on the event in Buenos Aires.
It was no mean feat for the squad to keep a cool, clear head after the hammer-blow in just the fourth stage. Nevertheless, the four Monster Energy Honda Team showed much resolve and were immediately back in the fray as the great challenge moved onto Bolivian soil. Besides Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves displayed great consistency over the course of the competition. The Portuguese rider on the Honda CRF450 RALLY came sixth overall, who like his team-mate, would have finished in second place without the sanction.
Michael Metge revelled in his supporting role and constantly shadowed the team’s two main riders Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves. The Frenchman offered his team-mates a sense of security which allowed them to give the maximum on the track. American Ricky Brabec will forever remember the Dakar 2017 after snatching his first Dakar stage win. Ricky was unable to finish after a crash damaged the bike. Ricky, however, has shown excellent progress and maturity as a rider of cross-country rallies.
The Honda CRF450 RALLY gave a noteworthy display of reliability, finishing the Dakar without the slightest mechanical hitch. The machine displayed great handling, resistance, power and has proved itself to be the bike of the Dakar.
As the HRC Chairman Yoshishige Nomura put it yesterday from the podium in Buenos Aires: the team fought to the last to try and win the rally and will continue to battle hard to raise the trophy as the Rally Dakar winner.
Yoshishige Nomura – HRC President
« I’m really proud to our riders and team members because they’ve not given up despite the one-hour penalty. Eventually they accomplished the great challenge. Unfortunately, we made a mistake due to the lack of confirmation of an uncertain point of rule book. But the final time gaps from the actual winner show our achievement deserved a victory. So, I would like to praise the challenge of our riders and team members. Finally, I hope our riders and team members will get a good rest and recharge before the next challenge. »
Taichi Honda – Monster Energy Honda Team Rally Project Leader
« The Dakar 2017 has finished. It has been a good test of the durability of the bike as well as the riders in the race. In the end the riders and the bike have performed very well. A small problem meant that the result wasn’t the one we had expected. But on the track we have shown so much more. I also think that we can still improve and we will do that over the coming year.
« The bike has performed very well in terms of the engine, the durability, maintenance and handling. It is a great rally bike. The development will continue. The aim was to use just one engine throughout the Dakar. All the riders arrived back with the bike in perfect shape. Ricky crashed and damaged the bike but I’m very happy with the machine’s performance. »
Martino Bianchi – Monster Energy Honda General Manager
« It’s really difficult to accept this result because Monster Energy Honda Team has shown that we have the fastest, most reliable bikes, the strongest riders and a very compact team. Only an interpretation of a far-from-clear rule penalized us. I wish to thank the whole team for all the work that they have done. Thanks to the riders and thanks to HRC in Japan for putting all their experience into our hands. The two cancelled stages also worked against us because we would have been able to show our winning potential as we have done on five out of the ten races disputed. It’s a hard result to accept, but it is important to take something away from this experience and learn from it. Next year we will be back even stronger. »