Don’t let the smile fool you, this guy means business and wants a Dakar trophy in his cabinet.
Dakar is a challenge that makes grown men weep. It is hands down the toughest bike race on the planet, the motorsport equivalent to climbing Mount Everest.
Yet its allure is enduring. Conquer the Dakar and you’ve done something truly special in your life, and this is something out newest Dakar star, Ricky Brabec, is well aware of.
Brabec’s won everything worth winning here – Hare & Hound, Best in the Desert and SCORE International, as well as the legendary Baja 250, Baja 500 and Baja 1000 races – but now he’s turning his attention to Rally with one of the most prestigious teams in all motorsports – the Honda Racing Corporation.
Brabec’s a big guy and will suit the demands of long distance rallying well.
Rally is a different beast to any other form of off-road riding. Enormous stages, constant navigating, physical and mental exhaustion are all part of the game, but if Brabec is ever going to win the biggest race in the world, he’s put himself in a pretty good position with the might of HRC behind him.
“Being a part of HRC is amazing, I don’t really even have the words because as a kid I wanted to ride with Honda, but now it’s a dream come true and I feel truly blessed,” Brabec says. “It means so much to me to be in Team HRC with the best riders in the world. I have worked so hard for this day and now I can’t wait to show what an American has in the rally world.”
Ricky’s Team HRC CRF450 is one of the most impressive dirt machines you’re ever likely to see.
Brabec has already ridden the Abu Dhabi Rally for the team earlier this year, getting accustomed to the demands of navigation, an unfamiliar bike, big days in the saddle battling sand dunes and exhaustion.
“The experience in Abu Dhabi was unreal. For me, it was difficult, but then again I told myself, “This is my first time on the bike and I just need to get used to it and get through to the end of each day.”
Now in Europe, Brabec is settling in with his new team but is under no illusions to the task that lay ahead. His job will be to help Team HRC’s top men – Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves – onto the podium, but he knows eyes will be on him and good stage performances are vital for his future rally prospects.
“Being here in Europe is great, finally spending time with the team and riding the rally bike. I think it will help me so much for the Dakar. The days here are long and the riding is great, not like the Californian desert, that is for sure!
“For my first Dakar, I’m arriving with a great attitude and, to be honest, my expectation is just to finish solidly and keep my team-mates heading towards the top spots on the podium. It’s my job to make sure they don’t get left in the desert with any problems. Because that, I’m preparing in US with the help of Johnny Campbell in order to improve my skills. I just want to finish well, help the team out and make my country happy once the rally is over.”
The 2016 Dakar starts in Buenos Aires in Argentina on January 2 with the Prologue before Stage One on January 3.