Honda place three rookies amongst top Dakar finishers
The Rally Dakar 2016 finished today in Rosario with three Honda riders up amidst rally raid’s elite: Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec have proved to be two of the sport’s bright lights for the future.
Kevin Benavides of Honda South America Rally Team and Ricky Brabec of Team HRC concluded the adventure in the top ten of the general standings at the close of the Rally Dakar 2016; Adrien Metge was eleventh overall. For all of them, this had been the maiden Dakar outing.
The thirteenth and final stage of the rally consolidated rider’s overall positions in the general rankings, with the 180 kilometre trek to the finish-line in Rosario, not enough to allow any major upsets to the previous day’s standings. Ricky Brabec was particularly attentive over the final stretch on his Dakar debut, but held a steady, fast rhythm throughout to post eighth place on the day. The American rider, who managed to take ninth overall position, had good cause to celebrate, with the Californian – an expert in desert races – churning out consistently fine performances. Brabec, 24, took a well-deserved top ten place, especially given that he had been out of racing for five months after a serious accident in an American rally in 2015.
Italian Paolo Ceci, 40, completed his double objective for the Dakar well: firstly, he made it through the whole 9000 km ordeal until the Rosario finish-line, and secondly, was able to aid his team-mates on numerous crucial occasions. Ceci was fundamental in various stages, having to tow Paulo Gonçalves and Joan Barreda when they ran into different problems. Paolo Ceci has become something of Team HRC’s guardian angel and adds another completed Dakar to his honour’s list which now stands at a 100% finish rate for each of his five participations.
Honda South America Rally Team has been the revelation of the Rally Dakar. After the falls suffered by its most veteran components, the inexperienced newcomers took over and stole the show, finishing amongst the big guns. It was Kevin Benavides, 27, whose star shone the brightest, not only for Team HSA, but also for Argentinean motorcycling, as he became the first Argentine ever to win a Dakar stage. Kevin finished in fourth overall place.
Frenchman, Adrien Metge, 29, also of Honda South America Rally Team, by way of Honda Brasil with whom he began racing in 2015, will also go home happy after a more-than-satisfactory Dakar, taking 12ths spot on the day to finish 11th overall.