Ricky Brabec expects to return for Abu Dhabi after vertebrae injuries in Dakar

Ricky Brabec was one of the favourites for the Dakar Rally Bike win in 2023, and the 2020 champion got off to a strong start when he won Stage #1. Two legs later, however, he was out with a crash that left him with fractures of his T1 and T2 vertebrae and a disc bulging near his spine. Despite the injuries, he is hopeful of recovering in time for the second round of the World Rally-Raid Championship: the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on 25 February – 2 March.

Brabec returned to the United States for further evaluation after his crash.

“Days like today make me wish I was still in the Dakar competing with the rest,” wrote Brabec on social media. “It’s been a slow few days and after everything is said and done we have a few breaks along our spine.

“In the beginning of all of this the pain was there and brutal, after a quick check in Saudi I was really starting to feel like a whimp when they said nothing was wrong which left me wondering what was actually going on with myself.

“Getting home on the earliest flight and directly to the Dr we discovered T1 and T2 broke but stable condition, and a disc pushing close to the spinal cord. Dr says a few weeks of recovery and we should be able to go, see you guys at Abu Dhabi!!!”

Brabec finished runner-up in the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to that year’s Dakar winner Sam Sunderland before they placed in the same order in the final W2RC standings. Incidentally, Sunderland also crashed out of the 2023 Dakar Rally, suffering a concussion and broken shoulder in Stage #1.

His Monster Energy Honda Rally team-mates José Ignacio Cornejo, Pablo Quintanilla, and Adrian van Beveren remain in the 2023 Rally. Van Beveren won Stage #5 while Cornejo took Stage #12, and Quintanilla is the highest ranking rider of the three in the overall in fourth.

The California native is one of eleven American riders competing on two wheels at Dakar, a new record. Skyler Howes is vying for the overall win and Mason Klein sits tenth. Rally2 boasted a duo of Jacob Argubright and Ace Nilson: Argubright is eighth in class while Nilson also retired after a Stage #5 crash that resulted in vertebrae fractures. Malle Moto has Petr Vlcek (thirty-seventh) and the American Rally Originals quintet of Morrison Hart, Kyle McCoy, Paul Neff, and David and Jim Pearson; all at ARO but Hart, who is fifteenth, have retired. In another FIM class, the Argentina-born American Pablo Copetti sits third overall in Quads.