Another Monster Energy Honda CRF450 Rally returned to the top of the results Thursday following stage four of the 2019 Dakar Rally, a marathon stage that took riders 318 miles in total with a 218-mile special.But it wasn’t stage-one winner Joan Barreda, who was forced to retire during stage three due to sliding into a ravine and not being able to get out. Rather, it was America’s Ricky Brabec.
The California native not only took the stage-four win – his second-ever Dakar Rally win since debuting in 2017 – but also the overall lead. Though we’re only four of 10 stages into the 41st Dakar Rally – the shortest on record – it’s worth noting that an American has never won a Dakar Rally.Joining Brabec on the stage-four podium was the 2018 Dakar Rally winner, Matthias Walkner, and his Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team teammate Toby Price, the 2016 victor.Walkner finished 6:19 minutes behind, and Price 7:07 behind, as the two look to claim an 18th-straight Dakar Rally victory for KTM.Monster Energy Honda reports that during the first leg of the marathon stage en route from Arequipa to Moquegua, 124 remaining motorcycle riders had an early start to cover the opening 53-mile link section before the first part of the 127-mile special. The day was soured by biting cold and humidity in both the city and the mountainous regions, but Brabec was quick through it all.After a 33-mile connection. the second part of the special, over 91 miles, proved even better for Brabec, who cruised home with a six-minute advantage over the nearest finisher, dethroning the previous overall leader Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) by 20 minutes.“Wow! I needed it,” Ricky Brabec says. “I needed a victory like that! Today I wanted to push because as we had studied yesterday, winning today would be able to help me in (Friday’s) stage.“We will have the mass motocross-style start, just like on the motocross starting grids. I’m really very happy to have won the stage with a good margin of time which has helped place me at the top of leader board.”Following stage four, riders traveled to the Moquegua camp where they had to perform their own motorcycle maintenance ahead of stage five because no outside assistance is permitted during the two marathon stages.As for former Supercross pilot Andrew Short, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna pilot finished 12th Thursday, placing the American 11th overall.Stage five of 2019 Dakar Rally takes riders 482 miles from Moquegua to Arequipa , with 214 of those timed.