Benavides beats Price to 2023 Dakar Rally win

Kevin Benavides has won Dakar 2023

Kevin Benavides has won Dakar 2023. Picture: Rally Zone

Kevin Benavides has beaten KTM team-mate Toby Price to the 2023 Dakar Rally title with victory on the final stage.

The 2021 Dakar champion started Stage 14, a 136km sprint along the sand from Al-Hofuf towards Dammam, just 12 seconds behind the man who was already a two-time champion.

It was a tie in overall terms when Benavides reached the first waypoint, at Kilometre 33, in a time 12 seconds quicker than Price.

From there, the Argentine pulled clear, 1:49s faster to Kilometre 68, and was still 1:29s up at Kilometre 102.

At the finish of the special, Benavides’ time stood at 55 seconds quicker than Price’s, meaning an overall win of 43 seconds.

A 100km liaison to Dammam now awaits to officially finish the event.

Behind the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing one-two, American Skyler Howes scored a podium for Husqvarna Factory Racing at 5:04s off the pace, while Pablo Quintanilla has usurped Monster Energy Honda team-mate Adrien Van Beveren to pinch fourth on the provisional overall classification.

Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides has clung on to sixth overall by a 15-second margin over Red Bull GasGas rider Daniel Sanders, who finished second on the final stage at 35 seconds behind Kevin Benavides.

UPDATE: Sanders penalised three minutes but retains third overall

After high drama on Stage 13, when the KTM-mounted Kevin Benavides had to be credited 23:10s after stopping for his injured team-mate, Matthias Walkner, the scene was set for a cliffhanger finish to Dakar 2023.

With the starting order for the final stage based on reverse overall classification, Kevin Benavides was 89th to set off and Price three minutes later in 90th on the road.

Mud at 29km caused some riders to get stuck but the two big contenders looked to have got through without major drama.

It was an Argentina-Australia-Australia top three covered by only 29 seconds at Kilometre 33, but Sanders assumed second place at Kilometre 68 as Price dropped back to fourth on stage, behind Quintanilla.

Price fought back in the next 34km, as Sanders closed to 19 seconds off the pace of Benavides, but the 1:17s deficit in overall terms was always going to be a tough ask with just another 34km to go.

At the finish of the special, Benavides had claimed his second stage win of Dakar 2023, and the second in as many days, by a margin of 35 seconds over Sanders, with Price another 20 seconds back in third.

Quintanilla and Howes rounded out the day’s top five, both more than three seconds off the pace, but the former had crucially gained 1:26s relative to team-mate Van Beveren after eight seconds had separated them at the start of the day in overall terms.

Pending any penalties and/or other adjustments, sixth through 10th overall will be Luciano Benavides, Sanders, Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Monster Energy Honda), Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco Factory), and Franco Caimi (Hero Motosports).

Among the riders who did not make the final finish line were three champions, with 2022 title winner Sam Sunderland crashing his Red Bull GasGas on the first stage proper, Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec also going out in the first week, and then Red Bull KTM’s Walkner, who battled valiantly with a sore hand for most of the fortnight, stumbling for good on Stage 13.

As for Kevin Benavides, he can now count himself as a two-time Dakar Rally champion, having won in 2021 for Honda before his switch to KTM later that year.

Price’s second placing is his first in a Dakar, but his sixth podium in total from nine starts in the event.

CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 14

Overall classification: Bikes Top 10, Updated

Pos Rider Nat Team Time/Gap
1 Kevin BENAVIDES ARG Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 44:27:20
2 Toby PRICE AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0:00:43
3 Skyler HOWES USA Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:05:04
4 Pablo QUINTANILLA CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +0:19:02
5 Adrien VAN BEVEREN FRA Monster Energy Honda Team +0:20:30
6 Luciano BENAVIDES ARG Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:22:42
7 Daniel SANDERS AUS Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing +0:25:57
8 Jose Ignacio CORNEJO FLORIMO CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +0:51:21
9 Lorenzo SANTOLINO ESP Sherco Factory +1:17:53
10 Franco CAIMI ARG Hero Motosports Team Rally +1:38:04

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