Honda toasts first Dakar Rally win since 89, pays tribute to Goncalves

Honda HRC President celebrates the success of Ricky Balbec's 2020 Dakar Rally win and pays tribute to the late Paulo Goncalves

Ricky Brabec - Honda, Dakar Rally

Honda HRC President Yoshishige Nomura has paid tribute to the late Paulo Goncalves after Ricky Brabec gave the Japanese firm its first victory on the Dakar Rally since 1989.

Brabec held his nerve in the closing stages of the 2020 event – the first to be held in Saudi Arabia – to secure both his maiden victory on the gruelling rally raid and Honda’s first for 30 years having returned to the event it once dominated in 2013.

The success comes days after former Honda rider Goncalves – competing with Hero Motorsports Rally Team this year - succumbed to injuries in a crash on Stage 7 of the event.

The Portuguese rider came close to winning the event for Honda in 2015 when he finished runner-up to Marc Coma.

Celebrating the success of Brabec, Nomura took time to also pay tribute to Goncalves in its winning statement.

“First, I would like to congratulate Ricky Brabec on his victory. Also, I thank Joan [Barreda], Kevin [Benavides] and José [Ignacio Cornejo] on their fine performances. And finally, I thank the team staff and development team for making this win possible.

“It has been seven years since we returned to the Dakar, and by learning from our losses, and everyone involved working hard, we've finally won. The relentless work of everyone involved over the past seven years, in other words a Team Honda effort, made this possible.

“We must not forget that Paulo [Goncalves] contributed immensely to the first six years, and we thank him, and pray he rests in peace. We are also deeply grateful to all of our sponsors, and our fans worldwide.”

Honda won the Dakar Rally in 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989, using a machine that would evolve into the iconic Honda Africa.

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