Honda review their Dakar 2019
2019 proved a tough Dakar Rally season for the Monster Energy Honda Team. Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves were forced out early, and Ricky Brabec lost his leading position to a mechanical issue. Best finishing Monster Energy Honda rider José Ignacio Cornejo came home in seventh, while Kevin Benavides received a hefty sanction that pushed him back to 12th from what would have likely been a podium finishing position.
Thus the ultimate Dakar result still eludes the Monster Energy Honda Team and while the 2019 Dakar Rally may have ended, it is still 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. 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 endeavors 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 place final position certainly did no justice to the continued efforts and development of Benavides.
Kevin Benavides – 12th overall
“It didn’t turn out the way we thought it would finish, obviously I have prepared a lot for this edition, I had a very big dream to fight for. It’s a bit ugly to end up like this and that things are resolved at a table. Finally I finished the race in a decent way, with my head held high as a good athlete. Both Honda and I have done things well. We have appealed against the penalty and now we will have to wait until the race is over to see what happens. For my part today I went out to enjoy the last stage, I rode calmly. Our next goal is the world championship and then to prepare for the next Dakar. I want to thank all the team, sponsors, family, girlfriend, friends and all the people who support me through social networks. Thank you very much to all.”
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.
José Ignacio Cornejo – Seventh overall
“The truth is that I am very happy about the comeback that I have made. At the beginning I lost time in one stage and the chances of being in the top ten were a little bit off, but we did not give up and pushed until the end. I ended up being seventh in the general, so I’m very happy. I am also satisfied with today’s stage, a second place is very good, I think I made a good performance. I would have liked it too if my companions could have finished the race, as some of them would have achieved the victory. At one point we had two riders fighting for the victory and we go home know that we have five riders in the squad capable of fighting for the top, which is very positive for the team. I have no doubt that next year we will return stronger. Personally, I will continue to work hard to keep up with the team’s objectives for the next edition of the Dakar. I want to thank all the staff of the team that have worked very hard, thank them for the great commitment they have with the project. We will continue working hard to achieve victory in the coming years.”
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
Yoshishige Nomura – HRC President
“HRC was not successful on our seventh challenge at the Dakar. I would like to apologize that we were not able to win the title, and that we could not meet the expectations of HRC fans worldwide. At the same time, I am proud of our Monster Energy Honda team, as it has proven itself to be very competitive. I appreciate the huge effort put in by our riders, team members and development team.
“In the 2019 Dakar, we experienced many situations that were unpredictable, but as with every Dakar, we have improved our ability to respond, and gained valuable experience. I am afraid we were not able to respond to the circumstances that we faced. I hope all Monster Energy Honda team members will have a good rest, in preparation for the next challenge. HRC will also start preparation for next Dakar soon! Finally, I would like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, as they give us the strength to challenge the Dakar, and promise they can look forward to better performances from Honda and HRC in the future.”
The team thanked 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.
2019 Dakar Rally Final Standings
- Toby Price – Red Bull KTM Factory Team 33h 57′ 16”
- Matthias Walkner – Red Bull KTM Factory Team +00h 09′ 13”
- Sam Sunderland – Red Bull KTM Factory Team +00h 13′ 34”
- Pablo Quintanilla – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +00h 20′ 46”
- Andrew Short – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +00h 44′ 10”
- Xavier De Soultrait – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +00h 54′ 00”
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo – Monster Energy Honda Team 2019 +01h 08′ 06”
- Luciano Benavides – Red Bull Ktm Factory Team +01h 09′ 10”
- Oriol Mena – Hero Motosports Team Rally +02h 08′ 41”
- Daniel Nosiglia Jager – MEC HRC +02h 31′ 53”