The Dakar Rally: unfinished business says HRC
Dakar 2016 is over. Team HRC is packing up to go home with a score still remaining to be settled at the Dakar; one for which the team will go all out to achieve. Now, the data has to be analysed and a year-long project planned, if the team is to capture rally’s top prize next year. The team’s endeavour to accomplish this mission in 2017 begins right away.
The two weeks of racing have ended in Team HRC’s fourth year back in the event, but the entourage will come home disappointed after a bad run of luck put an end to what had appeared to be a promising opening week. The team returns empty-handed, but more resolved than ever to take top honours next time round.
The 2016 edition has been particularly tough on the squad, losing one of the main riders before the rest day and another after having led the rally for three consecutive days. Yet, even after such setbacks, the never-say-die Team HRC attitude prevailed with Dakar rookie Ricky Brabec displaying great promise on his debut. The 24 year old Californian finished ninth overall in addition to having finished runner-up in stage nine.
Paolo Ceci played an important role for the team, coming to the aid of both Paulo Gonçalves and Joan Barreda on separate occasions when they ran into trouble. Paulo had clinched two stage wins, while Joan had won the prologue and would have won the first two stages too, were it not for time penalties incurred for speeding.
A special mention goes out to Team HRC’s great collaborator Honda South America Rally Team, who not only scored a stage victory, but also managed to consistently finish among the rally’s front-runners.
Argentinean rookie Kevin Benavides rode to a noteworthy and well-deserved fourth place overall. A bright future beckons for this brilliant young rider.
Frenchman Adrien Metge, also on his maiden Dakar outing, finished the challenge in eleventh overall position. Jean Azevedo and Javier Pizzolito were both forced to retire after heavy falls.
Team HRC wishes to express its gratitude to all the sponsors and collaborators who have so loyally supported the team through thick and thin.
Now, all that remains is for the team management to analyse and evaluate what has occurred during the Dakar 2016.
Taichi Honda – Team HRC Rally Project Leader
“First of all, I would like to thank the whole of Team HRC: riders, mechanics, technical crew and all the other team members for their work and efforts throughout the season that has finished with this 2016 edition of the Dakar Rally. Likewise, thanks also to all the Honda fans who have supported us during the race.
“The Dakar has finished. It has been a hard race for us, we have had some good results, some stage victories, some promising results from the youngest riders of both Team HRC and Honda South America Rally Team, plus other results that will make our next participation all the more effective. We will improve the bike and we will come back and battle to get a win in the next Dakar.”
Martino Bianchi – Team HRC General Manager
“The expectations of Team HRC for this Dakar 2016 were much higher that what we have been able to achieve. Unfortunately, a series of setbacks meant that we didn’t get the results we were hoping for, particularly with our two main protagonists being prematurely forced out of the race: Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves. The two main riders, while they were in the race, were always protagonists with Goncalves commanding the race for quite some time up until the rest-day. Barreda too, was always up there battling with the front-runners, as had been planned beforehand.
“Many things will need to be analysed: the reason for the lack of success and the technical problems that we have had. There is still a lot to work on.
“On the other hand there is the policy that we have had with the youngsters, which has worked well. Team HRC and Honda South America Rally Team both wanted to bring promising young riders to the Dakar, who will be successful in the future and this success we have seen because the top rookie in this edition was a Honda rider Kevin Benavides from Team Honda South America. He proved himself to be really strong and was also strongly supported by local fans here in Argentina. Also, we have the rookies Ricky Brabec and Adrien Metge, who have done a great job.
“All in all, the team have worked really well together and we have had two really tough weeks, particularly for the team, not so much for the riders, as this year the route wasn’t exceptionally difficult especially during the first week.
“The team, on the other hand, has had to work in extremely difficult conditions. The weather was very extreme with the wet, cold and heat of the final week. Unfortunately, working that hard and suffering that much, then not getting the result that we wanted leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
“We are ready to accept the challenge for the future and will come back stronger and more successful next time.
Wolfgang Fischer – Team HRC Team Manager
“Team HRC’s target of winning the 2016 Dakar Rally obviously failed, as our main riders hoping to achieve this goal – Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves – did not see the finish line. This leaves us some homework to do in order to come back better next year.
“Anyway, apart from that, I think we had a good time and were leading the race at the halfway-point and we are especially happy to see the development of the young riders. It was, for sure, the year of the rookies. In the top fifteen positions there are many new riders coming up and we are especially happy to see the Argentinean talent Kevin Benavides in fourth position. We are pleased to see that our new guy Ricky Brabec, from the USA, made it into the top ten. Also, from Honda South America, Adrien Metge was not far behind. This gives us a lot of motivation to work with these guys in the future and come back even stronger and try to finish the mission.”
HRC Dakar 2016 Video