Monster Energy Honda Team finishes the Dakar 2019

Press Release | January 21, 2019

Monster Energy Honda reviews the 2019 Dakar

Monster Energy Honda Team finishes the Dakar 2019

This is a press release from HRC…

The great Dakar challenge still eludes the Monster Energy Honda Team. The 2019 Dakar Rally may have ended, but the toughest, trickiest and most ruthless rally for both man and machine still remains the main outstanding team objective.

At the 2019 Dakar, Monster Energy Honda Team romped to stage victories, led for a great part of the race and showed themselves to be one of the hottest teams to beat, with several squad riders in contention, poised for success some 30 years on. But lifting the winning bronze touareg at the end of the race remains elusive. The lack of trophy will do little, however, to discourage the team as it endeavors to prepare further and grow stronger ahead of the next edition of the Dakar Rally.

The 2019 edition of the great challenge, which took place entirely on Peruvian soil, got underway with a full Monster Energy Honda Team, made up of five riders, bringing a blend of experience and youth, including such figures as Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves, Spaniard Joan Barreda, Chilean Nacho Cornejo, American Ricky Brabec and Argentine rider Kevin Benavides. Throughout the 2018 season the squad repeatedly triumphed in events such as the Merzouga Rally, the Atacama Rally, the Ruta 40 and the Inca Challenge.

During the first week of racing, the team occupied top positions, initially with Joan Barreda, winner of the first stage, who kept hold of the coveted first place on day two, only to prematurely retire the following day. A surprising Ricky Brabec took up the torch, winning stage four and remaining overall leader until day eight.

Subsequently, the team suffered the full force of race regulations with Kevin Benavides picking up a heavy sanction which put an end to the Argentine’s chances of a podium finish. The twelfth final position certainly did no justice to the continued efforts and development of Benavides.

Chilean José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo finished the odyssey with an excellent seventh overall place after finishing in runner-up spot on two stages. A notable Dakar for the team’s youngest rider.

The other team members didn’t make the final finish line: Joan Barreda was forced out when his bike got trapped at the bottom of a ravine on the third stage: Paulo Gonçalves suffered a fall on leg two of the marathon stage, and likewise Ricky Brabec, when a mechanical issue robbed the American of his leading overall position.

The final balance that Monster Energy Honda Team can take away from the event is a positive one, both for the individual performances and the joint team effort. The team comes away more experienced and with a huge desire to achieve the highest possible honours in the next edition of the Dakar in 2020

The team wishes its thanks Honda Peru for the use of their facilities provided both during the preparation and the race itself. Likewise, the excellent collaboration maintained with MEC Team with their three other Honda riders, will not be forgotten. Their Bolivian rider Daniel Nosiglia, aboard a Honda CRF450 RALLY, achieved a commendable result, finishing in an excellent tenth overall place.

Yoshishige Nomura HRC President


Yoshishige Nomura | HRC President

HRC was not successful on our seventh challenge at the Dakar. I would like to apologize that we were not able to win the title, and that we could not meet the expectations of HRC fans worldwide.

At the same time, I am proud of our Monster Energy Honda team, as it has proven itself to be very competitive. I appreciate the huge effort put in by our riders, team members and development team.

In the 2019 Dakar, we experienced many situations that were unpredictable, but as with every Dakar, we have improved our ability to respond, and gained valuable experience.
I am afraid we were not able to respond to the circumstances that we faced.

I hope all Monster Energy Honda team members will have a good rest, in preparation for the next challenge. HRC will also start preparation for next Dakar soon!

Finally, I would like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, as they give us the strength to challenge the Dakar, and promise they can look forward to better performances from Honda and HRC in the future.

Honda Racing Corporation Race Recap of Dakar 2019

Nacho Cornejo narrowly missed out on a maiden stage victory on the tenth and final day of the 2019 Dakar Rally. The runner-up spot in today’s special placed him in a position which greatly improves on last year’s performance.

Chilean rider Nacho Cornejo showed his pace yet again, marking the best time during the final special timed stage of the Dakar Rally fought in the Ica dunes close to Paracas. Cornejo, with the second final position, 2’21 behind the special stage winner, concludes his best Dakar performance to date, improving on the tenth overall position achieved in the most recent edition. Today the rider posted seventh place in the general standings this year – a promising result for the young man from Iquique.

Kevin Benavides, meanwhile, was sixth on the day, finishing the rally in twelfth overall position due to an extraordinary sanction that the rider picked up which the team is currently disputing.

VIDEO | Monster Energy Honda Team Dakar 2019 Video Stage 10

José Ignacio Cornejo

José Ignacio Cornejo | STAGE: 2th OVERALL: 7th

The truth is that I am very happy about the comeback that I have made. At the beginning I lost time in one stage and the chances of being in the top ten were a little bit off, but we did not give up and pushed until the end. I ended up being seventh in the general, so I’m very happy. I am also satisfied with today’s stage, a second place is very good, I think I made a good performance. I would have liked it too if my companions could have finished the race, as some of them would have achieved the victory. At one point we had two riders fighting for the victory and we go home know that we have five riders in the squad capable of fighting for the top, which is very positive for the team. I have no doubt that next year we will return stronger. Personally, I will continue to work hard to keep up with the team’s objectives for the next edition of the Dakar. I want to thank all the staff of the team that have worked very hard, thank them for the great commitment they have with the project. We will continue working hard to achieve victory in the coming years.

Kevin Benavides

Kevin Benavides | STAGE: 6th OVERALL: 12th

It didn’t turn out the way we thought it would finish, obviously I have prepared a lot for this edition, I had a very big dream to fight for. It’s a bit ugly to end up like this and that things are resolved at a table. Finally I finished the race in a decent way, with my head held high as a good athlete. Both Honda and I have done things well. We have appealed against the penalty and now we will have to wait until the race is over to see what happens. For my part today I went out to enjoy the last stage, I rode calmly. Our next goal is the world championship and then to prepare for the next Dakar. I want to thank all the team, sponsors, family, girlfriend, friends and all the people who support me through social networks. Thank you very much to all.

Raul Castells | Monster Energy Honda Team Manager

We are quite unhappy about how the Dakar went, especially in the final part of the race. We, as a team, have done the best we could and we have given everything. The race ended without a deserved prize, but the team has worked hard and everything worked well. We have to thank to HRC and Honda and also to all our sponsors, Monster Energy, Motul, Showa, Termignoni, Givi and all technical sponsors because without them, all this could not be possible. We will not surrender and next year we will return to fight for victory. Unfortunately we are quite unhappy with the jury and the organization of the race. Firstly for the penalty that they have imposed on us, which we have appealed against. We are also unhappy with how they have applied the rules to the rest of the participants of the Dakar: it can not be tolerated that one is penalized for something that could be done, and in contrast to others who have acted deliberately with the intention of doing something that they knew was not right, were not penalized. Let’s hope that everything is studied and the ways they apply the rules are changed.


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Yoshishige Nomura HRC President