Honda has wins the motorcycle category of the Dakar Rally for the second year running with a 1-2 finish by riders Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec. Thirteen gruelling days came to a close in Jeddah on the shores of the Red Sea, with Kevin Benavides emerging the winner of the 2021 Dakar Rally with team-mate Ricky Brabec taking second place overall. The American Monster Energy Honda Team rider won the final special of the rally in an intense 202-kilometre thriller.
The final stage of this Dakar 2021 was very difficult: I started third so I thought that it would be easier, but it was not like that, Benavides said from the finish line.
“At kilometre 50 all the riders in front got lost, so I began to open the track. The stage has been very difficult to navigate so I stayed very focused on doing things well. I gave everything to achieve this win which is a dream come true for me. I am very happy and thrilled about it. I crossed the finish-line thinking about many things, with great emotions... Paulo Gonçalves also crossed with me... It was a great moment. I am really pleased and I’m living this moment. I want to thank the whole team, starting with my mechanics, for the great job they have all done this difficult year. Thanks also to Honda for giving us such a great bike which made it possible to achieve the dream.
Monster Energy Honda Team ruled the roost throughout the world’s toughest race for a second consecutive year, as the squad proved to have greater riders and superior mechanical firepower, winning 10 stages and leading nine of the thirteen days of racing.
Kevin Benavides made history to become the first South American rider ever to hold aloft the winner’s heavy bronze Touareg. The Argentinean, whose consistency turned out to be the decisive factor, claimed two stage wins in the rally. Honda’s success was rounded out with runner-up spot going to American Ricky Brabec. The winner of last year’s edition finished with a final tally of four stage wins.
The last time Honda managed a one-two in the Dakar Rally was back in 1987 at the hands of Cyril Neveu and Edi Orioli.
In third place was KTM Factory rider Sam Sunderland who had the unenviable task of opening the final stage. With the difficulty of navigation essentially enduring the opening rider of the day would not win, Sunderland did a phenomenal job staying in the podium overall.
Trailing rally leader Kevin Benavides by five minutes going into the stage, the 2017 Dakar winner had no option but to push as hard as he dared during the final 200km as he raced against the clock. Unfortunately, a small error that resulted in him losing almost 10 minutes ended Sunderland’s charge for the win.
“I did my best over the whole rally, so I can’t be too disappointed, I guess, Sunderland reflected.
“It was always going to be hard setting off first this morning and I knew I had to push hard to make up those minutes. I couldn’t find one waypoint early on in the dunes and lost far too much time trying to find it. There is always a fine balance and when you push your speed, the navigation can lose out. I’m super happy as I know I gave it my all. The other guys did a great job and after what was such a tough event with several crashes and people being forced to retire with technical issues, I’m glad to be here safe at the finish line and in third place. I honestly think that has been one of the toughest races I have ever done – the pace at the top is so high, we’re having to fight every single day and there is no time to relax. Congratulations to all those who finished and get well soon to those who crashed out.”