Port Edward rider Stuart Gregory (#100) realised his lifelong dream when he finished the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Gregory showed guts, determination and motorcycle mastery, both as a rider and a one-man pit crew, to conquer the most challenging class of all, the Original by Motul Category.
After 12 Stages and 7 900km of challenging desert terrain (including over 5 000km of Special), the 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally concluded at the Saudi Arabian entertainment megaproject of Qiddiya, outside the capital Riyadh.
This was the first Dakar in Chapter 3 of the event’s illustrious history; the first time that it has been held in the Middle East. Appropriately enough, there were new names on some of the overall Category trophies, but the Dakar Rally 2020 also saw winning performances by some well-known Dakar legends.
Friday’s Stage 12 concluded with the Qiddiya Grand Prix and final podium beneath Qiddiya’s iconic cliff. The Grand Prix did not count towards the results but added a last flurry of excitement to the event. It was a chance for some of the riders and drivers further down the General Classification to grab some glory (as well as a winning one of the special Category trophies).
Gregory finished Stage 12 in 15th place in the Original by Motul Category, giving him a final ranking of 11th in the General Classification.
“I’m delighted to have finished my first Dakar. It was a pretty huge day in terms of nerves, but it’s done,” said Gregory as he arrived in Qiddiya. He thanked his family and sponsors for their support as he erased the painful memories of his withdrawal in 2019.
Riders and drivers supported by Motul were very visible on the final podium, with the Bike Category being won by Ricky Brabec (#9) from the Motul-backed Monster Energy Honda Team 2020.
Brabec was recording his maiden win and is also the first rider to wrest the trophy from the hands of KTM after many years of Austrian dominance.
Brabec’s fellow American Casey Currie (#405) improved on his fourth place finish in 2019 by winning the SSV Category for his Motul-supported Monster Energy Can-Am team.
“Motul is honoured to have partnered with the Dakar as a primary sponsor at the start of its third chapter. 2020 has been a classic Dakar, and Saudi Arabia has really delivered as a venue for this iconic event,” commented Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa.
“Kudos to all the competitors, especially the riders and drivers supported by Motul who all performed exceptionally well. We’d also like to congratulate all the South African finishers of this year’s Dakar, who definitely helped raise the profile of rally-raiding in the region,” she added.
For Brabec and Carlos Sainz of the Bahrain JCWX-Raid Team in the Car Category, the most important thing was to simply complete the Qiddiya Grand Prix to confirm their overall victories.
The Sabertooth Motoring Adventure/Red-Lined team’s Nissan Navara (#342) meanwhile played it very safe on Friday, being the 45th Car to cross the finish line. That was enough for 36th place overall in the General Classification.
“That’s 12 stages done and dusted, lots of ups and downs and emotional rollercoasters but we came here with the objective of finishing and that’s what we’ve done. The Dakar has thrown us a few curve balls – but nothing we couldn’t handle,” commented Terence Marsh, CEO of Motul-backed Red-Lined Motoring Adventures.
“As a small South African company, we’re very proud of our record in the toughest motorsport event on the planet. We’ve completed 8 out of the 10 Dakar Rallies that we’ve entered. Of the 128 Stages we’ve started since 2015, we’ve completed 123 of them,” he added.
These superb results are a testament to the resilience of the entire Dakar family: competitors, support crew, fans and sponsors. This year’s event has given everyone involved some wonderful memories to sustain them until the Dakar Rally 2021 rolls around.
For finish line interviews, final rankings, great photos and videos from the Dakar 2020, including the Epic Story by Motul category, follow the official Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/motulza/ or the official Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/motul_south_africa/?hl=en