Known as the ‘world’s toughest race,’ the Dakar Rally concluded today with two Americans atop the podium. Ricky Brabec won the motorcycle class, and Casey Currie and co-driver Sean Berriman won the side-by-side vehicle class. This marks the first time any American has won the Dakar Rally.
For 41 years, the Dakar Rally has pitted extreme vehicles against a grueling course. It started in Africa, moved to South America, and this year took place in Saudi Arabia. This year, the race spanned more than 4,660 miles over 12 days across the desert.
And each of those 41 races, dating back to 1979, crowned a non-American champion. In 2020, that changed.
Californian motorcyclist Ricky Brabec is officially the first American to win the Dakar. And fellow Californian Casey Currie and co-driver Sean Berriman, from Nevada, took the side-by-side vehicle (SSV) win, forever etching their names in the Dakar history books.
This style of off-road racing is called a “rally raid.” There are no road signs or GPS. Competitors are given road books each day, with navigation and terrain information. They then use a map and compass to navigate between checkpoints across extreme off-road terrain.
Of the 342 vehicles that started Dakar 2020, only 234 reached the finish line; nearly one-third failed to finish. Besides many mechanical failures, there are always injuries — and sometimes even deaths.
This year, Paulo Goncalves, a veteran Portuguese motorcycle racer, lost his life in a crash during the seventh stage of the rally.
Dakar Rally Motorcycle Winner
Brabec took the overall motorcycle class win for the HRC Honda Rally Team, atop a Honda CRF 450 Rally. Brabec’s win not only makes him the first American to stand atop the Dakar podium, but it also ends KTM’s 18-year winning streak.
Brabec took the lead on the third stage of the rally and never gave it up. He won two stages along the way and took the overall win by 16 minutes. He completed the grueling endurance rally in a time of 40 hours, 2 minutes, 36 seconds.
This is Brabec’s fifth attempt at Dakar and only his second finish. This win marks redemption for last year. In 2019, Brabec led most of the race until he had a total engine failure near the end of the rally.
Dakar Rally SSV Winner
Casey Currie and co-driver Sean Berriman took home the win for both America and their Monster Energy Can-Am race team. They completed the rally in 53 hours, 25 minutes, 52 seconds — a time good enough to take the overall win by 39 minutes.
But the win didn’t come without difficulties along the way. The team’s Can-Am Maverick X RS sustained a number of mechanical issues. And the team overcame flat tires, a broken axle, and a damaged engine belt to take the win.
Dakar 2020 marks Currie’s second attempt at the stage race. And he managed an impressive fourth place in his debut showing last year.
This year’s rally helped solidify Can-Am as the manufacturer to beat at Dakar. It is the brand’s third straight win and its second year in a row sweeping the podium. The top 20 SSV positions at Dakar 2020 were all Can-Am vehicles.