World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Sponsor obligations sideline Ricky Brabec

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Credit: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

Monster Energy Honda Rally Team will be a man short when they return to the World Rally-Raid Championship for this week’s BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in Portugal as Ricky Brabec has to stay in America to support his sponsors.

“While we would have loved to have him present, Ricky’s absence is due to contractual commitments to the team sponsors, who require him for an event in the United States on these dates,” reads a team statement. “We understand and respect his obligations.”

Brabec won the season-opening Dakar Rally in January, the second time he triumphed at the legendary event, but he and the team opted to skip the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge the following month as part of a planned breather. In the meantime, he returned to the U.S. to enter the Mint 400, where he and Honda team-mate Skyler Howes won on four wheels in the Limited Race‘s UTV Pro Normally Aspirated class. The following day, Brabec teamed up with Preston Campbell to win the Mint’s Motorcycle Race.

Most teams in the premier RallyGP class did not enter Abu Dhabi, where only Hero MotoSports took part. As a result, Brabec did not fall too far in the standings and is currently second behind Ross Branch by twelve points, though that deficit will increase due to his absence in Portugal.

Honda will still be well represented even with their Dakar winner missing as Howes is joined by Adrien Van Beveren, Pablo Quintanilla, and Tosha Schareina. The team will contend with Branch and Sebastian Bühler of Hero, who has a thirteen-point edge in the manufacturer’s championship, while non-points riders António Maio and Lorenzo Santolino make it eight RallyGP riders total for the race.

Van Beveren is currently the highest ranking Honda rider besides Brabec after finishing third at Dakar with two stage wins. The marque won seven stages total in the opener with José Ignacio Cornejo notching three, though Cornejo departed the team in March. Quintanilla is sixth and the only other Honda competitor classified as Howes and Schareina crashed out of Dakar.

Brabec’s girlfriend Sara Price is also not racing the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid despite signing up for the SSV championship, though her reasoning stems from a lack of sponsorship instead. Price, who won Stage #10 at Dakar alongside Brabec, will skip most of the calendar due to her low funding before returning for season finale at the Rallye du Maroc in October.

The BP Ultimate Rally-Raid begins on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a challenge because it’s been raining for many days and everything is full of water,” said Monster Energy HRC general manager Ruben Faria. “Our riders are physically well and have a good feeling for this kind of terrain.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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