The Dakar Rally: unfinished business for Team HRC
The Rally 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 projectplanned, 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. Many thanks also to all the fans who have offered very active support on social media.
Now, all that remains is for the team management to analyse and evaluate what has occurred during the Dakar 2016.