PRICE TOBY AUS KTM ambiance portrait and BRABEC RICKY USA HONDA ambiance portrait during the Dakar 2016 Argentina; Bolivia; Etape 10 / Stage 10; Belen - La Rioja; from January 13; 2016 - Photo Frederic Le Floc'h / DPPI

DIRT BIKE: When did you first realize you would be riding the Dakar rally this year?
RICKY BRABEC:  When i first realized i was doing the rally was actually not long before the actual rally. I was injured for much of 2015 and was cleared by my doctor just one month before the rally leave date, so it was up in the air for about five months if I was going to be able to make it to the start in Argentina.
DB: Were any parts like the Mojave desert?
RB:  A lot of the terrain was just like the Mojave desert, and like Baja. I felt really comfortable  out there. It felt like home!
DB: What was the hardest thing to learn?
RB: The hardest thing to learn for me was the pace of the race and how it worked. I was lucky because I was with the best team. Martino Bianchi and the guys at  HRC helped me with all my questions, but still you have to learn a lot while you’re out on the bike all day. Navigating in the beginning of the rally was also difficult. You have to mark the roadbooks with your own notes, but with time that goes fast and it was quick to learn.
DB: Physically, what was the toughest stage or day?
RB: The toughest day was for sure the last marathon, which is actually two days put together. We can’t touch the bikes after they’re impounded, and sleep is difficult and short. The heat and sand dunes played a big role in both days along with long liaisons on the highway. Nothing makes you more tired then a 4 a.m. start to a 400K road section–just to get to the start of the special!
DB: Were you surprised by anything?
RB: I was surprised by quite a lot, actually. It was extremely well organized for such a big race. Everything was always under control. Even the start were on time, except a few occasions when they had to delay due to safety reasons. Super cool to see how well it was held together for two weeks!
DB: Were you scared by anything?
RB: Yes! Trusting the roadbook notations is absolutely essential. Still, anything can happen. One day on a road, I was on the gas and a cow ran across right into me. If the cow would have stood his tail up I would have hit it. For sure, I had the cold sweats and slowed way down after that one.
DB: In the Marathon stages, are you expected to work for your teammates?
RB: Every day, I’m expected to help out my teammates, keeping them moving forward and keeping Honda on top. It was my job, so I’m not complaining but in the marathon stages we had to make sure Paulo’s and Joan’s bike were 100% for the next day of Marathon. Luckily there was only one day when we had to do work to get Paulo going so it was an easy two weeks, compared to how it could have gone.
DB: Do you have enough speed in reserve to win a stage?
RB: I have plenty of speed to win a stage and eventually bring the USA to the podium. I’m still learning, but I feel like in the future I can do it. Now I have my goals set on it and can’t wait to get back. Practice makes perfect so I have a whole year ahead of me to perfect using the roadbook with speed.
DB: What was the craziest thing you saw?
RB: I don’t know, but the funniest thing I saw was actually on my way to the airport on my last day. There were two cops on a big ’ol quad on the freeway just clinging to each other. I couldn’t help but to grab a picture and a great laugh!  For real, the weather was crazy though, from hot to cold, rainy to sunny, muddy to dry, we encountered it all!
DB: Was it fun?
 RB: Yes it was fun for sure. It was an adventure of a lifetime, and to see it all go down was very cool. It was such a good experience, I can’t wait to do it again and have another great adventure with HRC in the Dakar Rally!

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