Dakar 2024: An unshakeable performance by Brabec; India steps up to the plate on Rally 2

Dakar 2024: An unshakeable performance by Brabec; India steps up to the plate on Rally 2

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The 46th edition of the Dakar, the 5th to be organised in Saudi Arabia, has finished after more than 4,700 kilometres of specials and a total distance of almost 8,000 kilometres, which tested the riders, drivers, co-pilots and crews, from the ancient city of AlUla to the shores of the Red Sea, passing through the oceans of dunes in the Empty Quarter.

The major winners of the 2024 edition have each, in their own way, taken advantage of teams capable of building success based on their collective strength. Among the favourites in the Monster Energy Honda clan, American Ricky Brabec won a second title following his triumph in 2020, by resisting Ross Branch on his Hero, the first Indian bike to grace the Dakar podium, onto which Adrien Van Beveren climbed for the first time in his career, with third place, also riding a Honda.
n total, 239 vehicles (versus 340 that took starter’s orders) reached Yanbu, including 96 bikes (vs 132), 7 quads (vs 10), 55 Ultimate class cars (vs 70), 3 Stock class cars (vs 3), 29 Challenger class cars (vs 42), 28 SSVs (vs 36) and 21 trucks (vs 47). Among them, the riders, drivers and crews of 182 vehicles were able to climb onto the final podium to receive a finisher’s medal, with the remainder not having completed the entirety of the route.

Rally GP: 

Ricky Brabec took the lead on the rally in the dunes of the Empty Quarter on the formidable 48 HR Chrono stage, which drove plenty of riders into a corner, and held on to first place all the way to Yanbu to pick up his second triumph on the Dakar. This year’s success was even more tasty than four years previously, because Ross Branch pushed him all the way. To help him resist, Brabec was able to count on the support of his team-mates, particularly Adrien Van Beveren who often opened with the Californian. The Frenchman took advantage of this teamwork to finish third and climb onto the podium for the first time in nine participations, which was a deliverance for the man who claims to live, breathe and train all year long for the Dakar… Van Beveren owes his success not only to the progress he has made on rocky terrain but also to his Honda which allowed him to confidently attack from start to finish. The Japanese constructor put two of its representatives on the podium to pick up its eighth success on the Dakar. What’s more, if it was not for a fuel pump problem towards the end of the rally, Nacho Cornejo may also have been able to join his team-mates on an entirely red podium. In order to do so, he and Van Beveren would have had to have toppled the heroic Hero rider Ross Branch. The hard-nosed man from Botswana was a candidate for overall victory right up to the finish, even though he had been deprived of his team-mates, who dropped out one after another due to falls or mechanical problems. Branch led during the first week before being overtaken by Brabec who was coming into top form. Nevertheless, the native of Botswana has offered the African continent a podium finish for the first time since Alfie Cox took third place in 2005. Furthermore, thanks to Ross Branch, Hero has become the first Indian constructor to feature on the Dakar podium. It was an edition to forget for all the KTMs, broadly speaking. The Benavides brothers, Toby Price and Daniel Sanders were never able to contest the domination exerted by the Honda riders. Since 2020, KTM has always put one of its riders on the podium, which means this year’s performance is a blow for the constructor. What’s more, it is the first time since 1993 that no European constructors are on the final podium.

Rally 2: India steps up to the plate

The Rally 2 class was also full of surprises and new names. After having shone during the first week, Jean-Loup Lepan and Romain Dumontier flagged before reaching Yanbu. The former lost time following a navigation error and the latter did likewise due to the consequences of a broken exhaust. The two Frenchmen’s misfortune smiled, however, on Harith Noah. The Indian rider, who was the only remaining Sherco representative at the finishing line, gathered momentum throughout the second week to take the lead in the category just before the finish to score a historical success because it is the first Indian triumph on the Dakar. Noah claims to have obtained this victory without focusing on the result, simply by concentrating on his riding to make sure he reached the finishing line of each stage. This winning formula also worked for Tobias Ebster, the best rookie and the sensation of the Dakar 2024. The young nephew of Heinz Kinigadner triumphed in the Original by Motul category for unassisted bikers and even managed to finish his first Dakar in the overall top 20 for the bikes, a remarkable feat. In the quad category, the fight for victory was played out between Manuel Andújar and Alexandre Giroud. This time the Frenchman, who won the last two editions, finished as runner-up to the Argentinean, who last won the rally in 2021.


Source: A.S.O.
Photos: A.S.O./F.Gooden/DPPI

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