American Riders Taking On The 2016 Dakar Rally

Jesse Ziegler | December 31, 2015

This is an exciting year for Americans and the Dakar Rally, we have five riders taking on the brutal event. MotoUSA had the pleasure of riding with the guys representing America in the Dakar Rally at a very cool media event put on by Quinn Cody. Here is a look at who will be navigating the big 450cc rally bikes in 2016. Make sure to follow the rally and support the American riders.

2016 Dakar Ricky Brabec

Ricky Brabec
Age: 24
Hometown: Hesperia, California
2016 Dakar Rally Race Team: HRC Honda Factory Rally Team
Race Bike: Honda HRC CRF450 Rally

Motorcycle Competition Specialty: Desert Racing with a focus on the National Hare and Hound, SCORE and Best In The Desert series

Racing career highlights:
I would really have to say my results from 2014 are my proudest so far. Winning all three championships (NHHA, SCORE, BITD) in one year was a dream and it put me on to this adventure with a great team racing the Dakar Rally.

Describe your 2016 Dakar Race Team effort and primary sponsors:
I’m a rookie, the young gun on the HRC Factory Rally team. The team effort at HRC is great towards everyone and super helpful to me with all the support they give. Johnny Campbell and Quinn Cody are both helping me get up to speed here at home and really educating me about Dakar. HRC, Alpinestars, Arai and JCR Honda are my big sponsors.

How long have you been racing rally?
This is my first year racing rally and I’ll hopefully be doing it for many years to follow. It’s my goal to be a top contender in the Rally series. So far I’ve finished 5th in the Abu Dhabi Rally and 4th in the Ruta40—so I’m happy to get up in the mix in my first events on the rally bikes.

How long have you been training for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
I’ve only been training consistently for about two months. Early in 2015 I had a bad crash that put me out of competition for about six months with a broken neck. Ever since I was cleared to train by the doctors, I’ve been at it—started on the bicycle and eventually back onto the motorcycle.

For a motorcycle enthusiast not familiar with rally racing, how would you describe it?
I would describe it as trying to read a book while driving across the desert on roads you never been on, not knowing where they go, and trying you best to be smooth and fast to make it to the finish. It’s epic out there when your eyes are 70% looking for the trail and 20% looking at the road book and the other 10%, well, who knows… it takes a lot of concentration!

Rally racing takes some education to master. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
The most important thing I’ve learned so far is to not get ahead of yourself or the road book! You can easily do that and end up making navigational mistakes that cost you a lot of time.

What do you anticipate the most difficult part of the Dakar Rally will be?
I think the most difficult part is going to be trying to stay warm and focused at the same time! Nothing is worse than trying to navigate and concentrate while you’re freezing cold in the morning—your body just doesn’t want to work.

What are you looking forward to the most when the 2016 Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires?
I’m honestly looking forward to seeing the whole team again and having a great time with them during the race!

How do we keep in touch with you while you’re training and racing? (social media contact info here or a website/blog, media partners, etc.)
You can follow along with me on the social media links below. Thanks!
Facebook: Ricky Brabec
Instagram: rb_2
Twitter: rickyb357

 

2016 Dakar Alexander Smith

Alexander Smith
Age: 30
Hometown: Riverside, CA
2016 Dakar Rally Race Team: HT Husqvarna
Race Bike: 2016 Husqvarna 450RR

Motorcycle Competition Specialty: Jack of all trades, master of none

Proudest/Most Notable Motorcycle Racing Accolades, Championships, Wins, etc.: 2013 Baja 1000 Overall Ironman

Describe your 2016 Dakar Race Team effort and primary sponsors:
Sponsors: Husqvarna NA, MSR, Motion Pro, IMS Products, Troy Lee Designs, Lucas Oil, Malcolm Smith Motorsports

How long have you been racing rally?
First rally race was October of 2015 at the Oilibya Rally Moroc.

How long have you been training for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
I have been training for Dakar specifically for about 10 months, overall fitness training for about 7 years.

For a motorcycle enthusiast not familiar with rally racing, how would you describe it?
Think of it like trying to race while you read your favorite moto magazine at the same time.

Rally racing takes some education to master. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far? Trust my instincts.
My first decision is usually the correct one.

What do you anticipate the most difficult part of the Dakar Rally will be?
I think every day will have its own unique challenges but overall I think the most difficult part of the rally will be putting together 14 mistake free days.

What are you looking forward to the most when the 2016 Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires?
The finish line!

How do we keep in touch with you while you’re training and racing? (social media contact info here or a website/blog, media partners, etc.)
Instagram: @malcolmsmithmotorsports and @ams55
Facebook: Malcolm Smith Motorsports and Alexander Smith
Follow my ride and ask me questions: https://share.delorme.com/AlexanderSmith

 

2016 Dakar C.R. Gittere

C.R. Gittere
Age: 43
Hometown: Denver, NC
2016 Dakar Rally Race Team: MotoBatt/H.T. Rally Raid Husqvarna
Race Bike: 2016 Husqvarna 450RFR

Motorcycle Competition Specialty: Road Racing

Proudest/Most Notable Motorcycle Racing Accolades, Championships, Wins, etc.: 2012 Daytona 200 (2004)

Describe your 2016 Dakar Race Team effort and primary sponsors:
Primary Sponsors are MotoBatt, Powersports Data Solutions, Service Manager Pro, Speedmob, Ariete Goggles, Just One Helmets, Klim

How long have you been racing rally?
1 Year

How long have you been training for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
2 Years

For a motorcycle enthusiast not familiar with rally racing, how would you describe it?
Ride as fast as you can through the desert while reading email.

Rally racing takes some education to master. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Keep the bike moving NEVER, EVER, STOP

What do you anticipate the most difficult part of the Dakar Rally will be?
Not having my wife there to help me keep organized and not getting enough sleep.

What are you looking forward to the most when the 2016 Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires?
Seeing the terrain and the country

How do we keep in touch with you while you’re training and racing? (social media contact info here or a website/blog, media partners, etc.)
Link up with me on Facebook my wife will be posting updates

 

Scott Bright2016 Dakar Scott Bright
Age: 45
Hometown: Platteville, Colorado
2016 Dakar Rally Race Team: Rally PanAm
Race Bike: KTM 450 Rally Replica

Motorcycle Competition Specialty:
Enduros

Proudest/Most Notable Motorcycle Racing Accolades, Championships, Wins, etc.: Multiple ISDE finishes & 2 Silver Medals

Describe your 2016 Dakar Race Team effort and primary sponsors:
Rally PanAm has been assembled to bring US talent to the World Rally Scene, and I am involved in the effort. We have a long term plan to bring talented riders from the US to the sport of Rally. We hope to see the Rally format start to catch on in the US, by having more Americans involved competitively on a World level.

How long have you been racing rally?
I started racing Rallies in 2014, my first event was the Baja Rally.

How long have you been training for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
I have been planning and training for the Dakar Rally for the past 2 years.

For a motorcycle enthusiast not familiar with rally racing, how would you describe it?
Rally Racing is a navigational race, not using the crutch of a GPS to get you thru the course. None of the course is marked. More than half of your effort is used to decipher the roadbook notes more quickly and accurately than the guys you are racing against. Sure you may be fast in the desert, but there is a good chance you are going the wrong way! Then comes the monumental task of keeping your motorcycle and your body going for long distances and many days.

Rally racing takes some education to master. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
As you start to get the hang of navigating with a scroll of paper, you need to stay grounded with the basics and not make it too complicated. The primary task you are trying to complete is to make the proper turns and keep moving forward. Don’t stress the details if you are sure that you’ve made the right choice within each turn. Move on to the next note and don’t worry about the stuff you didn’t see. Many times the roadbook gives you too much information.

What do you anticipate the most difficult part of the Dakar Rally will be?
I believe the most difficult part of the Dakar Rally will be to keep the machine in good repair and moving forward after 15 days of abuse.

What are you looking forward to the most when the 2016 Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires?
I am looking forward to getting the race started so I can put 2 years of preparation behind me and just go ride the flippin bike!

How do we keep in touch with you while you’re training and racing? (social media contact info here or a website/blog, media partners, etc.)
You can find me on facebook, Instagram, and twitter.

 

2016 Dakar Rally Ian Blythe

Ian Blythe
Age: 24
Hometown: Sedalia, CO.
2016 Dakar Rally Race Team: Rally PanAm
Race Bike: KTM 450 Rally Replica

Ian heads to 2016 Dakar with a few rallies of experience, the Australasian Safari and the Baja Rally. He is also the Brazilan enduro champion. Last year Ian won a free entry into the Dakar Rally via the Dakar Challenge but wasn’t able to make it. The cost to race the Dakar Rally is astronomical, even when the entry fee is covered. Ian is a strong rider with some proven navigation skills so expect to see him doing well throughout the rally.

Motorcycle Competition Specialty: Enduro

Proudest/Most Notable Motorcycle Racing Accolades, Championships, Wins, etc.:
2015 Brazillian National Enduro Champion, 2 time ISDE gold medalist. US Junior ISDE team bronze medal, podium finishes in AMA national enduro in 2015. 3rd place and Dakar challenge winner at 2014 Australasian Safari.

Describe your 2016 Dakar Race Team effort and primary sponsors:
Our team is awesome, Dave Peckham is really committed and professional, as is Phil Bowman. We are a small team always struggling for finances but we have everything we need to be successful. I am also really happy to have Scott Bright on our side. He has been crucial to the team already and there is no one I would rather have as a teammate. We couldn’t be here at the start without If You See Kay Wines, ICO racing, Motion Pro, and Rally Panam

How long have you been racing rally?
Dakar will be my 3rd ever rally competition. I am lacking experience but I think my ISDE and enduro experience we help me a lot.

How long have you been training for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
It has been on my mind for almost 3 years now. We have done a lot of navigation practice, but physically I am just coming off of a successful enduro championship so my fitness is good.

For a motorcycle enthusiast not familiar with rally racing, how would you describe it?
Adventure. It’s the ultimate dirt bike adventure, you see a country, reliability is the name of the game and you have to navigate. I’ve really fallen in love with all aspects of rally in the past couple years.

Rally racing takes some education to master. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Testing and preparation is crucial. Rally is super demanding and long so if you have any problems you are often far from any help, so prep is even more important than in enduro racing

What do you anticipate the most difficult part of the Dakar Rally will be?
I think it will be most difficult to keep in a racing mindset. It is so long it is easy to slip into survival mode.

What are you looking forward to the most when the 2016 Dakar Rally starts in Buenos Aires?
Getting started! This has been so long coming that I can’t wait to just get under way!

How do we keep in touch with you while you’re training and racing?
Follow me on Instagram and Facebook, also give our team Rally PanAM a follow on Facebook, during the race they may be doing more updates than I will be able to manage.

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Jesse Ziegler

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