In what was a full throttle, dirt thrashing ten days; victories came in thick and fast for our athletes at the latest editions of the Andalucia Rally in Spain, and Sonora Rally in Mexico.
Scoring victories on two wheels and four, Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda Team) and Austin Jones/ Aron Domzala (Monster Energy Can-Am Team) triumphed in Spain, while Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team) took home an awesome third consecutive win in the legendary Mexican race.
What’s more, Brabec has now won more than half of the editions of the Mexican race ever held. The five-stage rally, held in the Altar desert in the state of Sonora in northern Mexico, included over 900 kilometres of timed special stages on a total 1,500-kilometre route.
Not content by dominating the top of the podium, team mate José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo made an impressive debut at Sonora, eventually snatching a win in the final stage, and earning himself third place on the rally’s final podium.
Monster Energy Honda Team Coordinator and American off-road legend Johnny Campbell said: “I have been honoured to represent Honda and HRC as the coordinator of the Monster Energy Honda Team at the Sonora Rally. We came here to test out the bike, to race and try to win, for the first time with two riders: Ricky and Nacho. Ricky was incredibly fast and at ease, and Nacho did a good job on his first run too, learning the system, the terrain and the rally type with an impressive finish. I want to thank JCR, the HGA staff and the HRC team. We will work and continue fighting towards a win in the next Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia next January 2022! ”
Switching focus to Spain the Monster Energy Honda Team came in hot with off-road veteran Joan Barreda and new signing Pablo Quintanilla. Barreda scorched ahead on the harsh and twisting Andalucia route from day one, keeping his main rivals firmly in check throughout the entire rally.
It was certainly no easy task for the Monster Energy Honda Team’s Spanish rider; who was forced to stay absolutely focused at all times, especially in the sections where the route re-covered the terrain which had been broken up by the previous days of racing. Barreda, who was only outpaced by team-mate Quintanilla on the day, eventually went on to claim the title of overall Andalucía Rally winner; and also inheriting the title that the squad had previously clinched in the first edition in Villamartín last year.
At the finish Barreda said: “It was a difficult final stage, opening the track from the beginning. It has not been easy at all: we went over the same stretches of very broken tracks that we had already been over in the last few days. I had to keep calm and hold a fast pace because I knew they were chasing me down, pushing hard behind me. In the end, I felt pretty good and I was able to keep up the pace through to the final finish-line. Having such a very good stage has allowed me to win the rally.”
Team mate Quintanilla added: “We have finished the first race with the team and all I can say is that I am very pleased about it. It was a very hard week, super intense, but very important to be able to get to know the whole team, find some good sensations and get to know the way that the team works. I felt comfortable with the team, on the bike, and I think I have gradually progressed, finishing with a very good stage win. I have to thank all these people who have worked alongside me all this week. Now, we are going to rest a bit and plan the immediate future. I am very happy and motivated about all the things that lie ahead.”
On four wheels Monster Energy Can-Am Team’s Austin Jones (USA) and Gustavo Gugelmin (Brazil) claimed victory in the FIA T4 category at the Andalucia Rally in their Can-Am Maverick XRS.
Forming the opening round of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies the event consisted of a qualifying stage, and four demanding legs through remote and varied countryside, with rolling plains, water crossings, twisty and technical tracks and fast open trails.
The American and his Brazilian co-driver won the third stage to overhaul Qatar’s early leader Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah and set another fastest time on the final timed section to extend their advantage and record the win by the winning margin of 13min 24sec. The triumphant crew were also placed 12th in the overall classification.
Jones said: “The last stage was really good. It was technical. I took a long time to get through the first 100km. It was a fun stage, really challenging. The water crossings are something else out here. Full tsunami every single time…. The course was really good and we are super happy.”
The Polish duo of Aron Domżala and navigator Maciej Marton crashed on the first selective section in the second of the Monster Energy Can-Ams. But team technicians worked hard to repair the Maverick in time for them to complete the remaining three specials.
The Pole had been fastest on the qualifying stage and went on to record the win on stage two and the second fastest time on both legs three and four. He climbed back to reach the finish in 14th overall.
Monster Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham said: “This was a great result for AJ (Austin Jones). He has been working hard since he started racing with us. He clearly showed at Dakar 2021 that he was a force to be reckoned with, leading the rally at the rest day. Austin and Gustavo both put on a controlled display over the last few days.”