Ricky Brabec, Honda clinch 2020 Dakar Rally win to end KTM dominance

Ricky Brabec holds his nerve on the final stage to clinch the 2020 Dakar Rally for Honda - the first non-KTM winner in almost two decades

Ricky Brabec - Honda, Dakar Rally

Ricky Brabec has triumphed on the 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia as Honda finally ended KTM’s almost two-decade stranglehold on the event.

The American, riding with the factory Monster Energy Honda team, kept his cool on the final stage, which was shortened to 166km due to a gas pipeline work, all but assuring he would come away with the title.

It goes a long way to making up for last year’s disappointment when he was leading comfortably only to retire with only two stages of the then South American event remaining.

On that occasion Brabec’s misfortune opened the door for Toby Price to win the 2019 title to maintain KTM’s unbroken run of 18 wins stretching back to 2001.

However, after a bright start, the Austrian team slipped out of contention early on when Price hit delays and Sam Sunderland was sidelined by a crash that broke his vertebrae.

Indeed, Brabec was never headed after he took control from Stage 3 of 12, dodging drama to never allow his lead to dip below ten minutes from Stage 5 onwards. He finished 16mins clear of the opposition.

Pablo Quintanilla attempted to keep his victory dreams alive with a flourish on the penultimate stage that halved Brabec’s advantage, but the shortened final stage all but scuppered any chance he’d have of catching his rival. Nonetheless, second place marks both Husqvarna and the Chilean’s best-ever result on the event.

Price completed the podium to make it three different manufacturers in the top three, ahead of Honda’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, KTM’s Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides.

Elsewhere, Spaniard Jaume Betriu picked up rookie honours in 14th, just holding off impressive British newcomer Jamie McCanney, who leapfrogged several positions in the final days to secure a top 15 finish as the highest-placed factory Yamaha rider.

The first time the Dakar Rally has been held in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, the event was nonetheless marred by the death of experienced podium winner Paulo Goncalves, who succumbed to injuries on Stage 7 following a crash