Sirish Chandran caught up with Ricky Brabec, five-time Dakar entrant and winner, Dakar 2020, at the launch of the 2020 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports, where he spoke briefly about his experiences at the 2020 Dakar, and gave a brief glimpse of his plans ahead
It was refreshing to see Ricky Brabec - the 2020 Dakar rally champ riding the 2020 CRF1100L Africa Twin on the stage at the launch event that was held in Delhi. Now, considering the Ed's personal rallying experiences (albeit the four-wheeled kind) he couldn't resist a tete-a-tete with the Honda Dakar rider, fresh from his recent victory at the 2020 Dakar, about his bike, his experiences and the happenings at the prestigious race's first outing in the Arabian desert.
Sirish Chandran – How difficult was it to defeat the KTMs?
Ricky Brabec – It wasn’t too difficult, it was hard but I knew I could do it. We struggled in some spots but Honda figured out the issues. Now we have a strong team and a stronger motorcycle, and I feel we can now do it more often.
SC – Honda’s always had very powerful bikes. Some say they are quicker than the KTMs. Has that played into your hands or is it just rumours?
RB – That’s all rumours; yes, a fast motorcycle is nice, but you need a lot more than just a fast motorcycle to take down a team of orange.
SC – To prepare for this Dakar, was riding in the dunes better suited to the Hondas than the South American terrain?
RB – Well, this Dakar didn’t have too many dunes, it was a lot of fast tracks, bumpy tracks and stones, which is where I ride, like at my home, so it’s normal for me and I felt really comfortable from day one, and I just had a lot of fun and felt at home the whole time which is really comforting.
SC – A lot of the riders said that in the second half of the Dakar the tracks were a lot more treacherous, you didn’t know where the dips were and it was all very fast and only the bravest riders could make time. Was that the case?
RB – This time the Dakar was all sand, so it definitely wasn’t the most treacherous. I would say the first week was more dangerous, being fast, rocky and bumpy; the second week was just fast sand valleys and sometimes you faced a surprise, but I would say the first week was way more dangerous, the second week was way faster, but it wasn’t as bumpy, there were only a few scares here and there.
SC – How did you train for this year’s Dakar? Was it any different from the earlier years?
RB – I trained the exact same way I did last year, but I’m going to keep the recipe to myself for now, as there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. I work really hard and I don’t want what I do to get out there for everyone to see. I’ll leave it up to them to figure out how to train and how to be successful.
SC – You’re famous now, having won the Dakar, and a lot more people know who you are. So how much has your life changed?
RB – I don’t really see myself as a famous person. Not much has changed, it’s just got a lot more busy. There’s a lot of work to be done after a prestigious win. I’m looking forward for it to slow down a bit so I can go on vacation. But till then I’m going to stay busy.
SC – Are you going to be doing any events very soon?
RB – Yes, once I get home. I leave India in two days to go to another race, and I’m really looking forward to that: going back on a motorcycle and escaping reality in a couple of days.
SC – How do you deal with losing a fellow competitor during the Dakar?
RB – It’s really hard losing a competitor, let alone a previous Honda guy, but we did what he would have wanted us to do, and that is to keep racing and fighting. He’s up there’ looking down and I hope he’s proud and, well, it’s racing; what we do is dangerous, we know that every day when we gear up that anything can happen.