The famed Dakar Rally, one of the world’s most challenging off-road endurance races, gets underway this week in Saudi Arabia. And Monster Energy is well-represented on the grid as sponsor of the powerful Monster Energy/Honda HRC racing program, along with two racers from the India-based Team Hero Motorsports program.
The crown jewel event of the 2023 FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championship features both motorcycles and automobiles racing a grueling 14 stages, plus a prologue stage to determine the starting order. Monster Energy/Honda HRC racers, featuring past Dakar champion Ricky Brabec (USA), along with Adrien Van Beveren (France), will look to set the early pace and be at the forefront come the finish, as the two have done recently. Also expected to run fast across the Saudi countryside for the Monster Energy/Honda HRC are Chilean greats Pablo Quintanilla and Jose Ignacio Cornejo, both possessing stage podium speed at Dakar and the FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championship rounds.
As a team, Brabec, Van Beveren, Quintanilla and Cornejo were victorious in last year’s FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championships, bringing the all-important Manufacturer's Title back to Honda. The four are poised to continue to battle for the great Japanese marque during all five rounds of rally racing through the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi), Mexico (Sonora Valley), South America (Argentina) and northern Africa (Morocco) in 2023.
Said Monster Energy/Honda HRC general manager Ruben Faria: “Experience and determination. This is a way to define Monster Energy Honda Team for the Dakar Rally 2023. Counting all the participation of our four riders, we are talking about 30 Dakars – ten for Pablo, seven for Ricky and Adrien and six for Cornejo. I know all of our riders are potential winners of the Dakar. Some have already achieved this goal, while others were very close to it. And after a successful season of 2022 we are very confident on the intense work we have done to prepare for another Dakar.”
Added Brabec: “We have been working really hard in the preparation of the Dakar Rally 2023, focusing on navigation, speed and staying healthy. It looks like the 2023 route has something in common with 2020 (the year Brabec won). It’s going along the coast – which is the area that helped me a lot in 2020 -with rocks and rough terrain. As a Dakar winner, maybe the pressure is not so high to me because I know I’ve been there before.”
Said Van Beveren: “It’s been an amazing preparation. The Honda CRF450 Rally is incredible. I feel so comfortable on the bike. To have this factory bike in my hands, and to have the people from Japan around me working together for the development of the bike, is a dream come true. This will be my eighth Dakar Rally, and I know it’s time to move forward in the rankings. I’ve finished fourth on two different occasions, and I’m willing to escalate. Motivation is high.”
Monster Energy will also sponsor two individual racers at Dakar and the ’23 FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. Team Hero Motorsports, running the India-based Hero marque, features Monster Energy-backed Ross Branch and Franco Caimi.
Said Hero Motorsports team chairman Dr. Pawan Munjal: “Motorsports is a natural progression for us as it will allow us to bring value-added products with top-of-the-line technology for the millions of our customers. This (Dakar) initiative is also reflective of our consistent support to sports and sportspersons.”