Monster Energy Honda Team are all set to compete in the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally. All the riders and bikes cruised successfully through today’s scrutineering and yesterday’ shakedown leaving the four riders confident of their prospects for the rally which gets underway on 1st January.
A blast from the past: in 2013 Honda returned to the world’s Motorsport toughest competition, the Dakar Rally, intent on once again dominating the race as they had previously done in the 80s. After a 23-year absence, the first years back proved troublesome, but never despairing – as Winston Churchill put it – the team learned from their failures, eventually going on to achieve success.
It did not take long for the stage wins to begin to materialise in the new Honda era, with the team soon vying for top positions, before the triumphs finally arrived. In 2020, Ricky Brabec would become the first ever American to win the Dakar, ensuring Honda’s name was once again inscribed on the winners’ list. A major triumph after eight determined seasons doggedly pursuing the goal.
« Getting to the top is difficult, but staying there is even more difficult. » Monster Energy Honda Team went into the 2021 Dakar – marked by the Covid-19 global pandemic – firmly set on improvement. And the team were to pull off the feat yet again, improving on the previous year’s results with a one-two that Honda had not achieved since that of Cyril Neveu and Edi Orioli in 1987 on the shores of Lac Rose in Senegal. This time the win went to Kevin Benavides, with Ricky Brabec claiming the runner-up spot. The Honda CRF450 RALLY riders had put their talents on display and had been consistently among the top finishers throughout the rally.
Undoubtedly, the team’s intention for this 2022 Dakar Rally edition is to achieve a hat-trick of triumphs in this, the most arduous era of the Dakar; one featuring greater competition than ever before. With this objective in mind, the team line up the following squad: Joan Barreda, Ricky Brabec, José Ignacio Cornejo and Pablo Quintanilla.
After the Dakar 2021, the team has shown very good performance in all the races in which it has participated. In addition, the last rider to join the Monster Energy Honda Team, Pablo Quintanilla, stood out by winning the Rallye du Maroc.
Saudi Arabia will be hosting this 44th edition of the Dakar Rally which gets underway on 1st January from Ha’il and is due to finish in Jeddah after covering over 8,000 kilometres of the largest country in the Middle East. The Monster Energy Honda Team – with former rider Ruben Faria as General Manager – is made up of a total of 26 members from six different countries.
The first stage
Starting in Jeddah and finishing in Ha’il, the first day of racing will feature a short 19-kilometre timed special stage, taking place between two very lengthy liaison sections for a total stage of 834 kilometres. The special stage will take place over dirt tracks featuring the occasional small dune, which will give the riders a reminder of their skills in the sand. Finishing positions for the special stage will be important, as they will allow the top finishers to be able to choose their starting positions for the following stage.
Ricky Brabec : Everything has been great this year: the team is looking good, we’re working hard and we’re all excited to be here for another edition of the Dakar Rally here in Saudi Arabia. It’s a great desert, a great country to compete in. For me, obviously, the expectations are high: we want to win. The whole team wants to win… There are a lot of people here who could win. For me personally, we are trying to do things right and get to the finish in one piece and without mistakes. Obviously, strategy plays a big part, but it’s difficult when you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We are fine, the rally starts tomorrow. We’re closing the year great and hoping for a better start to the new year with a place on the podium. Follow us! Wish us all the best. »
Pablo Quintanilla #7 : « With one day to go until the start of the Dakar and after completing the scrutineering and the shakedown where we had the bikes tested, everything is now relaxed. I feel very good and confident about what is ahead. We’ve had a great season, where we won in Morocco and then pre-season training with the whole team in Chile that has given us a lot of motivation, a lot of desire to go out and compete in this race. »
José Ignacio Cornejo #11 : « We passed the scrutineering and everything is all set to start the Dakar Rally 2022 tomorrow. I am happy and looking forward to starting this edition of the race. We have had a great 2021, with some good training and a lot of teamwork. Both the bike and the team are very solid and I’m happy to be here to kick off another Dakar. Tomorrow we will have the prologue, which will define the starting positions for the first stage. I’m all set to tackle my seventh Dakar. »
Joan Barreda #88 : « We are just one day away from the start of the Dakar Rally 2022. Everything is ready and in good order to take the start. I am very happy because this year I have had a fine season, winning the Andalucía Rally and also the Baja, so we will try to stay on the right track over the opening days of the race and hopefully we will have a great rally. »
Ruben Faria – General Manager : « The first win is the team making it to Jeddah, getting through the PCR test and being all negative. For me, this is already a triumph. We are practically the same team as last year and we have only changed two or three members of the team; we are well organised and with a clear objective in mind. The riders are also in great shape. They have had a very intense build-up to the Dakar with good results and, moreover, without any injuries. They are highly motivated.
« We passed the scrutineering and everything went well. Ricky spoke about his goal at the official press conference and he was very clear: to win the Dakar. And what he said makes sense after winning and finishing runner-up in the previous two editions. Last year, Nacho was in first place with just three days to go when he fell. Now he is highly motivated and feels comfortable on this type of terrain. Joan is probably the fastest of the whole bivouac. Last year he was having a very great race but he had a mishap on the penultimate day and his chances slipped away. Even so, he is always a rider to be reckoned with. Last but not least, Pablo Quintanilla is the new rider in the team although he has already completed in two races, winning the Rallye du Maroc. I think we have four riders who will be in the battle for the overall rally win. From my point of view, this year it will be a battle to the end, because the other teams also have very strong riders.
« Our goal is to win because we have already won the two previous races. But the Dakar is thirteen days of racing and a lot of things can happen. We have a great, very reliable bike. For me, it’s the best bike in the whole Dakar. Also this year, the Japanese technicians who couldn’t be here last year because of Covid issues have been able to join us and we also have a Showa suspension technician. The Dakar, however, is so unpredictable and evenly matched that only when you cross the finish line on the final day will the winner of the race be known. We only have one secret: work and work, putting the team before family and friends. It can go well or badly, but if you don’t do your best, you don’t get results. »