After securing its first-ever Dakar Rally win in 2001, KTM proceeded to establish an utter stranglehold on the grueling two-week event, claiming victory at every Dakar running since then. In 2020, however, Honda put an abrupt end to the Ready To Race brad’s nearly two-decade winning streak when American racer Ricky Brabec won the motorcycle class aboard an adventure and race-prepped CRF450 Rally.
After its historic win last year, the Monster Honda team is looking to replicate its 2020 success, and after the first full stage of racing, it appears Big Red’s 2021 Dakar ambitions very well may be fulfilled, as Ricky Brabec has once again taken the lead in the 4,750+ mile event. Now wearing the coveted #1 number plate, Honda’s 2021 factory HRC racer features an aluminum twin-tube frame housing a 60hp+ liquid-cooled 449.4cc double overhead cam thumper. Equipped with a carbon fiber subframe, the chassis is also mated to Showa suspension front and aft and adorned in carbon fiber bodywork. At this point, it’s still anyone’s race, though, after last year, it’s hard not to view Honda’s early 2021 success as foreshadowing for what’s to come over the next fortnight.