Ricky Brabec takes second Dakar win atop historic podium

The American rider, Ricky Brabec, has taken his second win on the Dakar Rally, as KTM made some unwanted history for itself

Ricky Brabec, 2024 Dakar Rally

The 2024 Dakar Rally was won by Honda’s Ricky Brabec, who took his second win in the famous event.

Brabec’s win was his first since 2020, which was the first edition of the Dakar to be held in Saudi Arabia and further confirms Honda’s renewed potential to challenge the once-unstoppable KTM/Pierer Mobility Group force.

KTM won every Dakar from 2001, with Fabrizio Meoni, until 2019, with Toby Price. The Pierer Mobility Group, which owns KTM, also won in 2022 with Sam Sunderland and GasGas, before Kevin Benavides put KTM itself back on top last year.

But the first two Dakars to be held in Saudi Arabia were won by Honda, with Brabec in 2020 and then with the aforementioned Benavides in 2021.

Brabec’s second win ties him with Benavides on two wins, which kind of marks them out as two key riders in the Dakar’s Saudi era. It also takes Honda past the Pierer Mobility Group for Dakar wins in Saudi Arabia - Honda’s three to PMG’s two.

The 2024 edition looked for a while as though it would be a perfect occasion for Honda, as Brabec’s factory teammates Nacho Cornejo and Adrien van Beveren were in contention for the podium until the penultimate day of the rally. Then, Cornejo struck fuel pump issues, which left him down in a painful fourth overall and over 20 minutes behind the podium with one day to go. He then lost two hours on the final stage, which put him back to sixth. Van Beveren maintained his podium place, but Hero Motorsport’s Ross Branch managed to clinch second place, his first Dakar podium, 10 minutes and 53 seconds adrift of Brabec in the final rankings.

While Branch somewhat scuppered Honda’s hopes of a first 1-2 finish since 2020 - when Brabec finished second to Kevin Benavides - he, along with van Beveren, ensured that this was the worst Dakar for KTM since 2000, when BMW locked out the podium. Since then, KTM has had at least one bike on the podium in every Dakar, but not in 2024. This year, the best rider from the Austrian group was Kevin Benavides, who finished fourth, 38 minutes and 48 seconds behind Brabec, and over 25 minutes behind third-placed van Beveren.

The Malle Moto class is for riders who have no outside assistance. All of the bike preparation between stages is done by the rider, who essentially has no support team. This was the class that Isle of Man TT regular James Hillier competed in last year, and was won in 2024 by Tobias Ebster, who is also a Dakar rookie and finished a very creditable 20th overall.

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