Monster Energy Honda reviews the Dakar Rally

The great Dakar challenge still eludes the Monster Energy Honda Team. The 2019 Dakar Rally may have ended, but the toughest, trickiest and most ruthless rally for both man and machine still remains the main outstanding team objective.

At the 2019 Dakar, Monster Energy Honda Team romped to stage victories, led for a great part of the race and showed themselves to be one of the hottest teams to beat, with several squad riders in contention, poised for success some 30 years on. But lifting the winning bronze touareg at the end of the race remains elusive. The lack of trophy will do little, however, to discourage the team as it endeavours to prepare further and grow stronger ahead of the next edition of the Dakar Rally.

The 2019 edition of the great challenge, which took place entirely on Peruvian soil, got underway with a full Monster Energy Honda Team, made up of five riders, bringing a blend of experience and youth, including such figures as Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves, Spaniard Joan Barreda, Chilean Nacho Cornejo, American Ricky Brabec and Argentine rider Kevin Benavides. Throughout the 2018 season the squad repeatedly triumphed in events such as the Merzouga Rally, the Atacama Rally, the Ruta 40 and the Inca Challenge.

During the first week of racing, the team occupied top positions, initially with Joan Barreda, winner of the first stage, who kept hold of the coveted first place on day two, only to prematurely retire the following day. A surprising Ricky Brabec took up the torch, winning stage four and remaining overall leader until day eight.

Subsequently, the team suffered the full force of race regulations with Kevin Benavides picking up a heavy sanction which put an end to the Argentine’s chances of a podium finish. The twelfth final position certainly did no justice to the continued efforts and development of Benavides.

Chilean José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo finished the odyssey with an excellent seventh overall place after finishing in runner-up spot on two stages. A notable Dakar for the team’s youngest rider.

The other team members didn’t make the final finish line: Joan Barreda was forced out when his bike got trapped at the bottom of a ravine on the third stage: Paulo Gonçalves suffered a fall on leg two of the marathon stage, and likewise Ricky Brabec, when a mechanical issue robbed the American of his leading overall position.

The final balance that Monster Energy Honda Team can take away from the event is a positive one, both for the individual performances and the joint team effort. The team comes away more experienced and with a huge desire to achieve the highest possible honours in the next edition of the Dakar in 2020

The team wishes its thanks Honda Peru for the use of their facilities provided both during the preparation and the race itself. Likewise, the excellent collaboration maintained with MEC Team with their three other Honda riders, will not be forgotten. Their Bolivian rider Daniel Nosiglia, aboard a Honda CRF450 RALLY, achieved a commendable result, finishing in an excellent tenth overall place.

Stage 3 at Dakar 2019: Benavides takes second place overall after stage three. Barreda retires

A more-complicated-than-expected third stage of the 2019 Dakar served up a mixed-bag result for Monster Energy Honda Team: Kevin Benavides gave himself a birthday present by climbing the leader board to second overall spot on the same day that team-mate Joan Barreda was forced to abandon the race.

It was double congratulations for Kevin Benavides who was wished happy returns as he headed out from the San Juan de Marcona bivouac on his birthday this morning and again after an excellent stage performance by Argentinean rider when he arrived back. Monster Energy Honda Team’s Benavides had been in the running for the stage victory, but had to settle for third place on the day, 2’37 behind the stage winner. Benavides thus moves up the general rankings to find himself rubbing shoulders with rally’s top guns.

The agenda of the day saw riders set out from the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona to start the first special of the day five kilometres later. The timed section concluded some 264 kilometres later followed by a short two-kilometre liaison section which brought the riders to a second 65-kilometre special. Before arriving back at the camp in Arequipa, it was back in the saddle for a 461-kilometre jaunt to take the mileage to a whopping 800 kilometres.

It proved to be a tough physical test for Paulo Gonçalves who held a swift pace to place a fine sixth on the day. Brabec suffered the setback of being forced to open the track which led to a twelfth place finish.

In stark contrast to Benavides’ excellent stage, Joan Barreda had to make a premature exit from the 2019 Dakar. The Spaniard came across a low visibility foggy and rocky area whilst opening the track, lost control of the bike which went into a slide down a ravine which it proved impossible to escape from. Barreda’s Dakar had ended at kilometre 143. The rider from Castellón’s final score-sheet reads: one stage victory on the opening day, taking the Dakar stage victory tally to 23 and two days at the head of the overall rankings.

Today brings the first leg of the marathon stage. Competitors can look forward to 352 kilometres of special out of a total route of 511 km before the entourage makes it back to the camp in Moquegua, where riders will be left without the possibility of outside mechanical assistance unless it be from fellow team-mates. For assistance riders will have to wait until the bivouac in Arequipa.

Dakar 2019: Brabec and Barreda on the virtual podium after stage two

Ricky Brabec and Joan Barreda both posted final positions that would see them on the rostrum as day two of the 2019 Dakar Rally concluded with the pair in second and third places. In the overall standings, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Spanish component holds the lead.

Things are looking up for the Monster Energy Honda Team on a day which saw Ricky Brabec and Joan Barreda in the fray for the stage victory. It didn’t turn out that way in the end, but the duo are well-placed in the top three and maintain their hard-fought positions from yesterday.

The stage proved to be a fast one with 90% of the special off-piste and just 20% in the dunes. The mótards started out behind the cars and side-by-sides, but the potential problems that the top riders had expected failed to materialize. All the bikes made it safely back to the bivouac at San Juan de Marcona after a long link section, on a day that had included 342 kilometres of timed special out of a total of 554 km.

Ricky Brabec very nearly stole the stage victory, but the American had to settle for second place, coming home just 22 seconds adrift of the eventual stage winner. Joan Barreda, who opened the special alone, posted third, 1’41” seconds behind Walkner.

All the Monster Energy Honda Team riders keep their positions in the general rankings, such as Kevin Benavides, eighth on the stage who holds the same slot overall. ‘Nacho’ Cornejo finished tenth and lies ninth in the table while Paulo Gonçalves repeated his eleventh position.

Tomorrow, the third stage of the Dakar will take all the participants to Arequipa where they will contest the longest stage in the opening half of the rally. The day will be made up of 331 kilometres of timed special out of 799 total kilometres which will take the competitors from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa. Riders are scheduled to arrive at the bivouac around 16:00 hrs local time.

Source: HRC News

Barreda off to a flying start as the Dakar gets underway in Pisco

The first special of this Dakar was won by a rampant Joan Barreda in Adrenarena de Paracas, near Pisco. But it wasn’t just Joan who shone in the Monster Energy Honda Team: Ricky Brabec posted third after an outstanding ride in the dunes with Benavides, Cornejo and Gonçalves occuping notable positions.

Day one, en route from the Peruvian capital Lima to the bivouac located around the city of Pisco, consisted of a total of 332 kilometres of stage, with only 84 km against the clock was enough to set up the first official race leader board of the 2019 edition of the Dakar Rally. 80% of the route took place in the dunes, on a stage which covered some dried up river beds that were navigationally more demanding. Nevertheless, all the members of the Monster Energy Honda Team riders were able to overcome the hazards successfully.

Temperature soared as the sun beat down onto the dunes of Adrenarena, yet despite this, Joan Barreda was scorching too clocking up a great time of 57’36” to win the stage and become the provisional race leader. Team-mate Ricky Brabec set the third fastest time 2’52” behind the Spanish rider. Kevin Benavides hampered with the task of being the first of the elite riders to open the track, was ahead for much of the day but the Argentinean ended up with the eighth fastest time on the day, one place ahead of Chilean Jose Ignacio Cornejo, ninth some 5 ’22 adrift of Barreda. Paulo Gonçalves finished eleventh 6’41” behind the Dakar’s first leader.

Today, Tuesday, will be one of the most unique stages of this Dakar 2019, as Joan Barreda will not be the first to open the race. That job will go to the cars who will start out before. When the bikes get their turn, they can look forward to a heavily churned up and rutted route after the passage of more than one hundred four-wheeled vehicles. After departing in Pisco, riders will head to the next bivouac in San Juan de Marcona after battling out the largest part of the stage in the dunes of Ica on a ride with a total of 554 kilometres including 342 special timed.

Source: HRC News