The season’s main event is finally upon the Monster Energy Honda Team as the 2018 Dakar Rally kicks off this Saturday, 6th January in Lima. The squad will be aspiring to the top final positions on the final podium when the race closes in Cordoba.

Monster Energy Honda Team is poised to take the start of the 40th edition of the Dakar Rally, the most thrilling off-road event on the planet. With almost 9,000 kilometres to cover, riders will speed their way across Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, starting out in the capital Lima, then on through La Paz to the final destination in Argentina’s auto industry capital, Córdoba.

The team today (Thursday) made it through the administrative and technical checks prior to the start. The five Honda CRF450 RALLYs are now closed in the parc ferme awaiting the moment of truth as the greatest challenge to man and machine gets underway. There will be no margin of error this time out with the team’s clear objective being an overall triumph.

Joan Barreda is fully fit and recovered from the left-arm injury which delayed his Dakar preparations. Despite everything, Joan has had a blistering year with victory in the Baja Aragón and the Vegas to Reno race. Barreda, according to the pundits, is one of the favourites to take the overall title.

Kevin Benavides is also on cracking form and fitness and arrives at the Dakar hungry to prove himself in this edition. Last year an untimely right wrist injury ruled the young Argentine rider from Salta out of the race. This year a fully-recovered Kevin has bounced back and proved to be unbeatable in the Desafío Ruta 40 and placed second in both the Atacama Rally and the Morocco Rally and posted an overall third spot in the Baja Inka.

American Ricky Brabec is another rider with a point to prove in the 2018 Dakar. After dominating the desert races in North America, he raised trophy at the Sonora Rally and the Vegas to Reno before closing 2017 with a podium place in Morocco. Brabec, of course, last year clinched his maiden Dakar stage win.

Michael Metge, meanwhile has come on leaps and bounds and continues to go in search of a top result. The Frenchman, as well as being a reliable point of support for team-mate Joan Barreda, awaits his shot at glory in the world’s greatest challenge.

As usual the old adage ‘If it was easy, it wouldn’t be the Dakar’ will hold just as true as ever.

Paulo Gonçalves Injury
Just when the team appeared to be on top form comes some gloomy news: Paulo Gonçalves has had to drop out of the 2018 Dakar Rally. The Portuguese rider suffered a mishap in training a few weeks before heading out to Lima, injuring his right shoulder and left knee in the process. The team stalwart, who hails from Esposende, Portugal received immediate medical treatment in the hope of making a recovery for the race-start, but unfortunately shortly after the team passed the final checks, the valiant Portuguese rider was forced to renounce his place in Lima this coming Saturday. His place will be occupied by the young Chilean rider José Ignacio Cornejo. ‘Nacho’, 23, who was the FIM Junior World Cross-Country Rallies Champion in 2016.

On behalf of the Monster Energy Honda Team we wish Paulo Gonçalves a swift recovery and hope to see him as soon as possible back in the bivouac racing at the same high level that he has done all season.

Press registered on the page interested in finding out more about the team and the race can download images and information at the following link: https://rally.hondaracingcorporation.com/toolbox/2018-dakar- press-
kit/

Joan Barreda 5

I am very happy and excited to start the Dakar. After the last months’ work, the countdown to be here has been positive. We will see this first week, if we can adapt to the pace and the difficult navigation to see if we can position ourselves well for the race.

Paulo Goncalves 6

As a result of a minor incident in a training session I have an injury that prevents me from running this Dakar with all the full guarantees necessary. Now I will try to recover as fast as possible so I can return to racing as soon as possible.

Michael Metge 14

We are now very close to beginning the Dakar at last. I am very happy to be here after a whole year of training that allows us to arrive here well-prepared. It is my first Dakar in Peru and I hope it will be a positive event for the whole team.

Ricky Brabec 20

A few days before the 40th edition of the Dakar and we are here in Lima setting up. The team is looking good. Our bivouac situation is really nice; our bikes are perfectly built. We had a shakedown and testing which went well. Now with just a day to go we are going to rest and have a last team meeting. The team will be on their own for the next sixteen days racing through the South American desert. Hopefully we can place the Hondas on the top of the podium or the top three or top five. We’ll do our best and fight our hardest to get up there and make Honda proud.

Kevin Benavides 47

I am happy to be here at the Dakar again after last year when I was not able to participate. I arrive here with good feelings after a whole year preparing for this race. Physically I feel very strong too. I am anxious to start here in Peru, to continue through Bolivia and finally arrive in Argentina. We will have to ride an intelligent race, taking care of all aspects.

Taichi Honda

Monster Energy Honda Team Rally Large Project Leader

After a year of preparation the main date of the season - the Rally Dakar - has finally arrived. I think the team is in a position to do a good job and I wish to express the last minute loss of Paulo Gonçalves due to injury. We want to wish him a speedy recovery and we hope to see him again soon demonstrating his qualities once more in the races.

Raul Castells

Monster Energy Honda Team Manager

With the scrutineering we have reached the most important moment in the year: the start of the Dakar, the greatest challenge of the Monster Energy Honda Team. After all the hard work done during the season, we now just have to wait for the start of the race. I am convinced of the possibilities of our riders and also that we will be able to support them to the maximum to try to get the best results possible.

Location Information

The greatest and toughest rally in the world, the Dakar’s history has been written in the heart of some of the world’s most stunning deserts and belongs to the world of the greatest sporting challenges of our time. Both a motor race and an orienteering challenge, the Dakar Rally pits… read more.

Lima, Perú - View in Google Maps