In the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), the five-round series that kicked off with the Dakar Rally in January and ran through October, Honda's factory team, Monster Energy Honda Team was represented by Ricky Brabec (2020 Dakar Rally winner), Jose Ignacio Cornejo, Pablo Quintanilla and Adrien Van Beveren, who had tested their bikes and trained in the world’s most demanding terrain in preparation for the 2023 season.
The 15-day Dakar Rally consisted of a prologue and 14 stages. Brabec won Stage 1, a loop stage that included a 369-km special stage with dunes and gravel. The other riders also put in excellent performances.
However, Brabec crashed in Stage 3, which had many difficult gravel sections and was muddy due to rainfall. He was taken to the medical center for examination, and although he was not seriously injured, he was forced to retire.
Nevertheless, it was a proud day for the Monster Energy Honda Team as Van Beveren took the win in Stage 5, an extremely tough route over small dunes and camel grass, with Cornejo finishing second. Quintanilla was tenth, but was later promoted to seventh after his time was taken into account for rescuing Joan Barreda who had crashed.
Although Stage 6 was rerouted and Stage 7 was cancelled due to inclement weather, the Monster Energy Honda Team riders were able to steadily complete each stage. The Dakar approached its final stages. In Stage 12, a two-day marathon stage that took place in the Empty Quarter, and despite strict regulations that prevented mechanics from providing support, Cornejo was able to bring home a stage win for his team in a close battle. He was 49 seconds ahead of stage runner-up Daniel Sanders (Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing) and 1:58 ahead of third-place Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
The Dakar Rally then came to a close with Stage 14. Three of the four Monster Energy Honda Team riders finished the race. Quintanilla finished third in Stage 14, 3:15 behind the leader, and fourth overall. Van Beveren followed Quintanilla to finish fifth overall. Cornejo struggled on the muddy final stage and finished the stage in 34th place, but was able to defend his eighth place overall, and every rider who finished the stage made the top 10.
Round 2 of the W2RC was the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge held in the United Arab Emirates. Van Beveren took his second overall victory in this five-stage rally. Cornejo finished fourth overall, only 2 seconds behind third place, and Brabec finished seventh. At the end of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Van Beveren was second in the standings, just four points behind the leader. In the Manufacturers' standings, Honda was in second place overall with 75 points, 9 points behind the leader.
Round 3, the Sonora Rally, was held in Mexico. Quintanilla had a strong start in Stage 1 finishing third. Brabec finished a strong third in Stage 3. All of the team riders then completed the rally, which consisted of a 139-km special stage and a 259-km liaison. Van Beveren, who was the most consistent rider on the team, took sixth place overall. Brabec finished eighth overall, Quintanilla ninth, and Cornejo 11th.
Round 4, the Desafio Ruta 40, drew a lot of attention as this popular rally in Argentina was included in the W2RC series for the first time. Brabec was the top team finisher, on the podium in third place after a consistent performance, from Stage 2 through the final stage. Van Beveren followed in fifth place overall after winning the prologue, followed by third place on Stage 1 and a stage win in the final stage. Other team riders also finished the rally, with Quintanilla sixth overall and Cornejo seventh.
Tosha Schareina (Honda Team), riding the CRF450 RALLY, took the overall win at this event, giving Honda a record of nine wins in the past 11 events.
The Rally of Morocco was the final round in the 2023 W2RC, and the Monster Energy Honda Team added a new fifth member, Skyler Howes, who finished third overall in the 2023 Dakar Rally, for the six-day rally.
However, the W2RC season finale got off to a rocky start. Howes retired in the prologue, and Brabec, who had finished on the podium in the previous round, retired in Stage 1 due to mechanical issues.
Nevertheless, the remaining team riders gave their best, and Quintanilla took third place overall, including a win in the final stage. Cornejo finished sixth overall, and Van Beveren seventh.
The 2023 W2RC, which began with the Dakar Rally, came to a close, and thanks to the efforts of all the Monster Energy Honda Team riders, Honda won the manufacturers’ title for the second year in a row.
The 2024 W2RC kicks off with the Dakar Rally on January 5, 2024, and the Monster Energy Honda Team will be back with a new six-rider lineup.