In the 36-year history of the Dakar Rally, just two American motorcycle racers have ever earned top-3 finishes in the overall event: Danny Laporte (second) in 1992 and Jimmy Lewis (third) in 2000.
Dakar Rally coverage begins on Tuesday, January 3, at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
It’s very possible that 25-year-old Ricky Brabec may add his name to that list in this year’s Rally, which begins Jan. 2 in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The Mira Loma, California two-wheel specialist will be making his second start in the Rally. And after last year’s impressive ninth-place finish as a rookie in the event that stretches across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, Brabec is ready to put his name in the Rally’s history books.
“The biggest challenge for me is just trying to improve on my ninth place from last year,” Brabec told Dirt Bike Magazine. “I was just getting a feel for the race and seeing what I was able to do.
“This time, in 2017, we have a very solid team and all of us can push towards the front.”
Brabec impressed many in last year’s rally, not just with his astute riding, but also his lofty finish. After being scored 22nd following the opening day of the 2016 Rally, he quickly moved up the ranks to as high as seventh before ultimately finishing ninth in the 14-day off-road endurance test.
His favorite memory of last year’s race? “Finishing,” Brabec told Dirt Bike Magazine. “It’s a brutal race over fourteen days and I had never done anything like that before. … My ride was good and I hope to better my results. It’s a bit frustrating and annoying when you can’t win.”
Part of the Monster Energy Honda Team, Brabec is one of the brightest up-and-coming stars on two wheels. In his career to date, he’s won a number of races including some of the most prestigious events in desert racing: the Hare & Hound, Best in the Desert and Score, including wins in the Baja 1000, Baja 500 and San Felipe 250.
Now he’s ready to build upon his rookie outcome in his sophomore run in the Rally.