2024 DAKAR RALLY FEATURES TALENTED HONDA-MOUNTED AMERICAN RIDERS
January 4, 2024 — ALULA, Saudi Arabia
- Ricky Brabec eager for repeat of 2020 victory
- Skyler Howes joins factory HRC squad
With the 46th edition of the Dakar Rally set to kick off Friday in Saudi Arabia, the reigning FIM Manufacturers World Champion Monster Energy Honda squad fields a strong lineup of six riders, including two—Ricky Brabec and Skyler Howes—who hail from the United States.
Entering the legendary event with Honda for the ninth time, Brabec is still the only American to win the Dakar Rally's motorcycle class, which he did in 2020. "I'm looking forward to this edition of the Dakar," said Brabec, who is from Oak Hills, in California's Mojave Desert. "We'll be going through rocks and riding a bit more in the open desert. That's good, as I feel like it's my strong point on the motorcycle. It's going to be a long 12 days, with many new things out there, with the 48 hour chrono stage, fresh locations and the unknown factor of the weather, as things like this all play a factor. I'm really looking forward to getting to the finish of this Dakar as this is my ninth one, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and keeping my hopes high for a good outcome."
Having finished on the podium at last year's Dakar Rally, Howes joined Brabec on HRC's factory rally squad last September. "I'm pretty excited for the 2024 Dakar," said Howes, who resides in St. George, Utah. "The route looks really fun, with some new challenges. Looking at the differences in terrain, with more broken rocks and stones, it looks like this year it'll be very physically demanding, which is good for me. I prefer to have a rally like this, as it makes things more challenging with the navigation, plus this makes for a good rally. I'm feeling focused and confident, so I'm excited to see what this Dakar can bring us with the new motorcycle."
Racing alongside Brabec and Howes on the Monster Energy Honda squad are Chilean riders Pablo Quintanilla and José Ignacio "Nacho" Cornejo, along with Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren and Spaniard Tosha Schareina. All are armed with the all-new Honda CRF450 RALLY machine. Also of note for American fans is 2019 AMA Hare & Hound National Champion Jacob Argubright, who is racing a Honda for the Duust Rally Team after finishing 22nd as a privateer in his Dakar Rally debut last year.
Honda is no stranger to winning the world's toughest rally, its first victory coming in 1982 at the hands of Frenchman Cyril Neveu, who won it again in 1986 and '87, before Edi Orioli and Gilles Lalay took over the top step in the two years that followed. Brabec added his name to the history books in 2020, and Kevin Benavides made it a second consecutive victory for Honda the following year. Honda is hoping to regain the top step of the podium at this year's event.
The 2024 Dakar Rally is shaping up to be quite challenging, as the riders will endure 4,950 miles across a prologue and 12 stages. In addition, it will include the new "48-hour chrono" stage, which will test the endurance of man and machine across Saudi Arabia's legendary Empty Quarter. During this section, there will be no communication with the outside world and no help from mechanics and, when they bed down for the night at one of seven bivouacs dotted across stage 6, entrants will have no idea where they are in relation to their fellow competitors. This test falls at the event's midpoint, so although a rest day follows, there will be a further six days of action to go.
The fifth Dakar Rally to take place in the spectacular Saudi Arabian desert will see 60% all-new sections, as the route starts at historical AlUla before winding across to the far Eastern town of Shubaytah, then heading to the finish at the coastal town of Yanbu by the Red Sea 14 days later. Riders can expect plenty of stunning backdrops as they make their way through this epic adventure in a test of skill, speed and endurance.
The challenge commences on Friday, with a 17-mile prologue.