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  • Monster Energy Honda Team Aims for Over-all Victory at Dakar

    The 41st edition of the Dakar Rally is about to take off, challenging yet again various natural terrain over a long period of time and thousands of miles.


Monster Energy Honda Team Aims for Over-all Victory at Dakar

Jan 6, 2019

The 41st edition of the most grueling race, the Dakar Rally is about to take off, challenging yet again various natural terrain over a long period of time and thousands of miles. The tradition lives on with various vehicles such as bikes, quads (ATV), cars, side-by-sides (UTV), and trucks all competing on a variety of off-road situations. The Monster Energy Honda Team will participate with 5 factory riders each on CRF450RALLYs.

January 6, 2019: The 2019 Dakar kicked off with the ceremonial start which took place in Magdalena, outside of Lima, the capital of Peru. The 41st edition of the event showed a gathering of a total of 334 vehicles, including 137 bikes and 26 quads participating. Attracting a huge crowd said to be up to a 100 thousand rally fans, the competitors were presented on the podium set on the beach before the real racing starts tomorrow.

It will be the 7th challenge for the Monster Energy Honda Team since they returned to the Dakar as a factory team in 2013. The CRF450RALLY has continued to evolve and has achieved a good balance of speed and durability. The five riders who will be riding this CRF will be Paulo Goncalves, Joan Barreda, José Ignacio Cornejo, Ricky Brabec, and Kevin Benavides. Although the Honda team has been so close in the past, such as Benavides finishing in second place after a fierce fight to the last stage last year, the team still hasn’t quite reached the overall victory yet. Immediately after last year’s edition, the team has prepared by changing the structure of the team to be more competitive and supportive to the riders with the 2019 challenge in sight.

With all of the route set in Peru, this year’s edition of the Dakar will be unique in the 41 years of history, since the Dakar rally has always crossed borders between a number of countries. The length of the race is also new, for annually there were 12 stages with a total distance of up to 9000km, whereas the 2019 edition only has 10 stages with a total of 5534km, including a total distance of 2951km special stages. However, 70 percent of the special stages are set in the sand and dunes and the rally is expected to be as hard as ever. The riders will have to navigate there way by reading the route book provided by the organizers by themselves while trying to ride precisely in the sand which is going to be most demanding.

Stage 1 starting on the 7th will have a short 84km Special Stage starting from a reverse grid to get the competitors warmed up, but Stage 2 on the following day, the bikes will start after the cars and the disturbed sand surface will be the first challenge of the 2019 Dakar. Also a side-by-side mass-start for the bikes is planned for Stage 5 on the 11th and Stage 9 on the 16th, and an even more complicated all-category mass-start including cars and trucks in the 8th stage on the 15th.

These unique starts and tricky navigation seem to be key to this edition, and a challenge for the competitors to keep calm and seek the correct route.

Since the Dakar was moved to South America from Africa in 2009, the route has always been affected by squalls and stages have been cancelled due to the forces of nature. This year’s edition is set in an area of Peru where it is unlikely to suffer from sudden climate changes, therefore hopefully all of the stages will take place as planned without any cancelations. Short but Intense, is what this year’s Dakar looks like from the starting line. The challenge is about to begin, and will continue until all 10 stages are completed and the competitors return here to Lima, the capital of Peru.


Paulo Goncalves

“We are now fully ready to start the 2019 edition Dakar having finished the shakedown and scrutineering. I’m recovering from the operation and didn’t suffer any pain when riding and I have a positive feel. I’s going to be another long Dakar and I’ll do my best to reach the end of each stage, and reach the goal beyond. This year’s edition will be with a lot of sand and dunes, but this is just another Dakar.”

Joan Barreda

“We are ready to fight for the title. The team has worked hard throughout the season preparing to get to this start line, and with the positive shakedown, we all feel confident. This year’s edition is set all in Peru but that doesn’t make the Dakar any easier. I feel it will demand precise navigation and I’m ready to tackle the tasks starting tomorrow.”

José Ignacio Cornejo

“With plenty more time for preparation, I’m in much better condition at the start line of the 2019 edition of the Dakar than last year. All the preparations are complete and I’m ready to take a better position than the overall 10th I achieved in the 2018 edition. I’m happy and honored to be at this star line in Peru and will do my best.”

Ricky Brabec

“The shakedown went well and the technical inspections and verifications are also over with, and now we are at the start line at last. The team has five strong riders and I have high expectations. I will push hard for good results every single day of the race and hope for an overall success.”

Kevin Benavides

“All the preparations are finished. The technical checks are over. I’m both physically and mentally fit and challenge yet another edition of the Dakar with high expectations. It will be another adventure and I’m going to fight it through to the finish.”