Alla Nyheter

Interview With 2024 Dakar Rally Winner Ricky Brabec

Publicerad:: 2024-01-22

The Californian ripped across the barren and unforgiving Saudi desert for the past two weeks and, when the dust had finally settled, he wore the crown of Dakar Rally Champion for the second time in his career.

What a 2024 it’s been for Monster Energy/Honda Team’s Ricky Brabec. The Californian ripped across the barren and unforgiving Saudi desert the past two weeks and, when the dust had finally settled, he wore the crown of Dakar Rally champion for the unprecedented, by an American competitor, for the second time of his career.

Though it was always in question, as you never quite know what can happen from one stage to another (12 total, plus a Prologue), Brabec’s consistency, including a stage win and an even more impressive five (5) stage runner-up finishes, allowed him to carry a 10-plus minute lead into the final stage, and cruise home with a 10:53 victory over 2nd place Ross Branch (Hero Motosports, fueled by Monster Energy).

In the saddle of his ‘new and improved’ Honda CRF450 Rally motorcycle for some 8,000 kilometers of highly difficult “Special” stages and road-based “Liaisons,” Brabec led a team of Monster Energy-backed racers that won 10 of the possible 13 stages and scored 24 (out of a possible 39) stage podium finishes. So in addition to Brabec’s championship effort, he also led the Monster Energy/Honda Team and would earn them the coveted overall Constructor’s Championship.

And, if that wasn’t enough, Brabec’s girlfriend, Monster Energy’s Sara Price (South Racing/Can-Am), competing in her very first Dakar Rally, became the first American woman to win a stage at Dakar – on the same day Brabec won his only stage of the ’24 Dakar. How cool is that?

Slammed by the world’s media, Brabec was gracious enough to take the time for an interview with his longtime sponsor, Monster Energy. Here’s his take on the past couple weeks in Saudi Arabia, and the championship he brought back to the States.


Right out of the gate, please explain the feeling of completing the Dakar Rally.

“The feeling of victory is something special for me, for sure. It’s been a long time coming, and we have been trying to win again, since our first victory in 2020. We were close in 2019, then close again in ’21. But since then it’s been rough, so I was happy to seal the deal this year.”


What was the high point for you at this year’s Rally?

“I’d say the highs this year were to be able to ride with my teammates every day. And spending time with them in the motorhome, always good vibes there. I appreciate this event and wouldn’t give it up for anything.”


Conversely, what point of Dakar challenged you the most?

“What challenged me the most, honestly? It was every day. I’ve been doing the Dakar for nine years and this wasn’t easy. And it was the most physically demanding rally I’ve ever done. But this didn’t stop us. When the going get tough, it just motivated me to get going.”


Was there ever a moment where you thought, or came close to thinking, “That’s it. I’ve just thrown my podium position away.” (Explain)

“There was never a moment that actually physically gave me that feeling of throwing it away, but I did have a big task at hand to open Stage 11. I had a good possibility to lose all the time I had gained, but we kept the focus and did our job accordingly.”


Discuss what the Dakar Rally does to one’s body. Unbelievable time in the saddle. Concentration levels peaked for hours on end. Muscles and tendons absolutely maxed out. Living conditions pulled together in the middle of a far off desert. How are you able to deal with all that for days on end?

““It’s definitely a long time in the saddle, and concentration levels are at a peak. Once you lose concentration, it starts getting pretty tough, and you lose focus. And you can easily lose your way. The living conditions are not so tough, but not so easy as well. Things get a little close in there, but all-in-all it’s a good time with my teammate, Nacho (Jose Cornejo). We work well together. And to build those memories with him is quite a great experience. And I’m looking forward to more memories that we can gain for a lifetime. In fact, I’m not too tired, and I definitely feel like I could go for another week of racing.”


Such incredible support goes on behind the scenes for you to achieve this amazing finish. Discuss the support program that helped you to achieve such heights at the 2024 Dakar.

“The support that goes beyond what everyone sees is amazing. Everyone has a really important job and task at hand, and without everyone not doing a strong job with what they have to do, it’s difficult. But everyone was doing a great job on our team in keeping us going. It makes the mornings waking up, and going to bed, a lot easier.”


This year’s Dakar route was said to be different from past years. What’s your opinion on the route? Was it more challenging that previous Saudi Dakars? Or somewhat similar?

“This year’s Dakar route was definitely different, and definitely more difficult. That said, I really enjoyed the toughness of it. I feel like it (the route) motivated me each and every day to keep going stronger and stronger. And at the end of the rally that really showed off. And I think the next step of the Dakar Rally is to bring it back to three weeks. That would be awesome. The two marathon style stages (Chrono 48) were great. But if we were now to throw a third week in there, that’d bring it back to the legendary old school days. See how many people make it then!” (laughter)


Discuss for a moment your motorcycle. In the case of the Honda CRF450 Rally, there were a lot of changes from the riders’ input from last year’s Dakar that were implemented in the new model. Discuss how this year’s model out-performed last year’s model, and the area it did so.

“The new model bike is definitely something we all agreed with. All the riders were stoked with it. It’s a little bit lighter and more manageable in the rocks and dunes. I feel like it’s a little bit quicker. I’m really happy for the Japanese to produce something so great for us. And all of the hard work the Honda engineers put in really showed. I mean, there were small issues here and there, but that’s to be expected at a test such as Dakar. Overall I think Honda’s put on the show for this year. I think everyone saw that and I think for the future it’s looking bright.”


From MotoGP to American Monster Energy AMA Supercross, there are incredible events around the world, contested by amazing athletes. How do you feel the Dakar Rally relates to other pinnacle forms of two-wheel motorsport?

“I feel that the Dakar Rally is for sure the pinnacle of off-road racing, as it’s known by everyone throughout the world. And I wish it was a little bit cheaper for more people to come and test their patience, test their skills, their toughness. But not so easy. I know people are trying, but we’ll see. Maybe we can get another (WRRC) rally in North America, just to keep people entertained and make their dreams come true to come to the rally. 


Finally, Dakar’s famous saying “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind,” has so much deep meaning. How, in your own words, do you best explain Dakar adventure to your friends and family back home?

“The Dakar is like the ultimate adventure. It’s a challenge with your mind, your patience, your toughness. And being kind of stranded out there by yourself, in the middle of the desert – alone. It’s never easy. It’s like a scavenger hunt across the desert for these waypoints, and there’s never an easy way. You have a lot of doubts. Tracks, roads, sand washes, canyons – and you have to pick the right one. And when you don’t pick the right one your heart just sinks and your stomach balls up and you lose all hope. So the hardest part is staying tough, being confident in yourself and trusting yourself for all 12 days while you try to minimize mistakes, and fix them quickly when they happen. Keep going instead of telling yourself ‘I went the wrong way,’ and not doing anything about it. My friends and family back at home definitely know how tough it is, but for me, you know, I wish the TV show and everyone else gave more support not just to the competitors, but to everyone on the team because it’s a team effort – and the teamwork makes the dream work. Without the team the riders wouldn’t be anything. 


Thank you, and again, a heartfelt congratulations from everyone at Monster Energy.

“Thank you to everyone at Monster Energy. Their support, along with the help of the entire Monster Energy/Honda Team makes the world spin for the riders. And I’m looking forward to the future.”


Up next…

That concludes the 2024 Dakar Rally. Next up on the FIM World Rally Raid Championship series schedule is the Feb. 25 through March 4 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. For more information, including “Live” timing and scoring, visit