Dakar Rally: KTM’s Kevin Benavides Wins Final Stage And Overall (Updated)

Dakar Rally: KTM’s Kevin Benavides Wins Final Stage And Overall (Updated)

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By KTM Factory Racing:


Dakar Rally 2023 – Stage 14

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides has won the 2023 Dakar Rally! At the end of what has been a hugely successful race for the team, Benavides led home a KTM one-two with Toby Price securing second place, just 44 seconds behind his teammate. The result marks KTM’s 19th victory at the iconic rally-raid event.

Taking the win on the 13th and penultimate stage yesterday, Kevin Benavides closed down the gap to provisional rally leader Toby Price to just 12 seconds. And with the start order reversed for the final day of racing from Al Hofuf to Dammam, the two KTM 450 RALLY racers would set off right from the back – Benavides leaving three minutes ahead of his teammate.

Although the final timed special had been regarded as a relatively simple sprint to the finish, the 136 kilometers of gravel tracks, sand, and dry lake beds threw up a considerable challenge to all riders. However, it was Benavides who piled on the speed and mastered the terrain to take his second consecutive stage win of the event, and more importantly, the overall rally victory.

Kevin’s journey through the 14-stage race has been one of outstanding consistency. Even though the Argentinian didn’t pick up one single second in bonus time for opening any stages, he finished inside the top 10 every day for the whole two weeks of racing. It was this skillful and calculated approach to the event that earned him his second career Dakar Rally victory.

The result makes it two Dakar titles for Benavides – 2021 and 2023 – and marks KTM’s 19th win at the Dakar.

Kevin Benavides: “It’s been an amazing day! I just focused on every kilometer from the first to the last. I didn’t think about the position or the result I just gave my 100 percent over the whole stage and tried to enjoy the day. The special was really fast and tricky, and so muddy – thankfully I didn’t make any big mistakes, but it would have been easy to have an issue out there today. I have worked so hard for this. This year’s rally has been one of the closest ever and there wasn’t a single day where you could afford to ease off. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team, and all my family and friends. It’s going to take a little while to sink in, I can’t describe this feeling right now.”

Leading the standings going into the 14th and final stage of the race by just 12 seconds, Toby Price was the last rider to enter the special. Aiming to chase down Benavides who had set off three minutes ahead of him, Toby got his head down and gave his all right from the start. A couple of issues early in the stage cost the Aussie the valuable seconds he needed to stay in front, and despite clawing back close to one minute on the latter half of the special, it wasn’t quite enough to overhaul the flying Benavides.

Toby has produced an incredible performance over the course of the two-week race. Securing no fewer than 10 top-five stage results, and a win on the event’s opening prologue, the two-time Dakar champion was undoubtedly the man to beat throughout the rally. Missing out by less than one minute after more than 44 hours of racing is of course frustrating, but knowing he gave his absolute all every single day, Toby is happy with how he rode and with the hard-fought runner-up result he’s secured at the world’s toughest rally-raid.

Toby Price: “So, so close. Yeah, a great job from Kevin, he did really well today. I knew it was going to be tight, and of course I pushed right from the start all through the stage. I just missed three waypoints by virtually meters, and it dropped me back. Obviously, the goal is to win, and it’s frustrating to miss out by such a narrow margin. But I’m fit, healthy, and I’m going home with a trophy, so that’s the most important thing. I’m ready for another one next year.”

After a heavy crash on stage two where he injured his wrist, Matthias Walkner demonstrated his grit and drive by continuing with the rally. As his condition improved, the Austrian was able to deliver stronger and stronger stage results as the race went on. At the close of stage 12, Matthias had moved back up to a highly commendable ninth overall. Unfortunately, disaster struck on the penultimate stage 13 of the event where a heavy crash off the top of a dune left Walkner with considerable back pain. Thankfully, after being airlifted to hospital for further checks, the 2018 Dakar winner was found to not have broken any bones or suffered any serious injury. We wish Matthias all the best for a speedy recovery.

Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Team Manager: “It’s been an incredible Dakar – one of the toughest in history and definitely the closest! It’s been such a close battle inside the Red Bull KTM team with Toby and Kevin separated by just 12 seconds going into the final day today. Thankfully, the performances of both riders gave KTM a one-two in the race, with Kevin earning his second win and the 19th for KTM. Of course, you can’t have two winners, but Toby claiming second place is still an incredible achievement and down to the hard work he has put in over the two weeks. The team have also done an amazing job, not just at the event, but also over the whole of the past year building up to this race. Now it’s time to celebrate before we look ahead to the next race in the season.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “Beside the riders, I’m maybe the happiest man on the planet right now. It’s amazing after this long journey and this tough race, to have only 12 seconds separating the two guys coming into this final day. And then for them to push so hard over the stage and reach the finish line safely and in first and second is incredible. After around 5,000 kilometers and over 40 hours of racing, to have them so close is unheard of, and the whole team did an amazing job to get them here in this position. What it came down to was basically a motocross race for 130 kilometers. Both riders did an amazing job, and even though you can only have one winner, I’m hugely proud of them both, as the pressure was really on today. KTM now have 19 wins at the toughest offroad race in the world, but we won’t stop there. We’re already looking forward to this season and then the 2024 Dakar next year.”

Provisional Results – 2023 Dakar Rally, Stage 14

1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 1:15:17

2. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 1:15:52 +0:35

3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:16:12 +0:55

4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Honda, 1:18:32 +3:15

5. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 1:19:02 +3:45


Provisional Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally (after 14 of 14 stages)

1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 44:27:20

2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 44:28:03 +0:43

3. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 44:32:24 +5:04

4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 44:46:22 +19:02

5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 44:47:50 +20:30




More, from a press release issued by Husqvarna Factory Racing:



Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes has battled through 14 stages of intense racing to finish the 2023 Dakar Rally in an excellent third place. In what has been a career-best ride for the American, Skyler led the race for a total of six stages and stayed in the hunt for victory right through to the very final timed special.

Coming into today’s 14th and final stage, Howes trailed the leader by just one minute and 31 seconds – an incredibly narrow margin after well over 43 hours of racing. As the third-to-last competitor to set off into the special, Skyler had a comfortable advantage over the fourth-placed rider and knew, with the two front runners fighting it out behind him, a smooth, calculated ride to the finish was all that was needed to secure his podium result.

Completing the final stage as fifth fastest, Howes was overjoyed with his overall result of third place on what is his fifth Dakar Rally appearance. In just a few years, the 30-year-old has gone from promising privateer to top-three Dakar racer. His podium at this year’s event added to his excellent 2022 season results bode well for Howes as he now looks ahead to the rest of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship season.

With three stage wins at this year’s event – the most of any rider at this year’s race – Luciano Benavides enjoyed a highly positive, and highly rewarding time at the Dakar. By combining his skill in opening specials with precise navigation and the ability to ride largely error-free throughout the 14-day event, the Argentine was rewarded with sixth overall to equal his career-best result from 2020.

Skyler Howes: “I am so happy! It’s been an incredible race with highs and lows, and it’s come right down to the wire on this final day. I knew the guys behind me would be pushing so hard today, and to go into this final day less than two minutes behind after well over 40 hours of racing is incredible. I arrived at the finish safely, and it feels like a dream come true and such an honour to share it with two legends like Toby (Price) and Kevin (Benavides). Everyone knows what you have to go through to get to this point, and after all that hard work, it makes this moment feel so sweet. Of course I want to come back and see what the other two steps of the podium feel like. But to now be one of five Americans to reach the podium at Dakar, it feels amazing.”

Luciano Benavides: “I’m really, really happy to reach the finish line. It’s been a crazy, tough, and incredibly rewarding Dakar and I’m just over the moon to be here safely after what has to be one of the best races of my life. Thanks to my team for all their hard work, and it’s because of them we finished the race really strongly. I came into this year’s rally without a Dakar stage win, and now I have three. It’s really given me motivation for the future and I’m looking forward to the season ahead even more now.”

Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Team Manager: “It’s been an incredible Dakar Rally for Husqvarna Factory Racing, especially as the event will go down in history as one of the toughest and certainly one of the closest in history. Skyler has done an amazing job, mastering the rough terrain of the first week to lead the race for several days. He has worked so hard to get to this point and his podium finish is well deserved. Luciano, too, has ridden an exceptional race, not only topping three stages, but also showing incredible skill when opening the specials. Overall, it’s been an amazing team effort by everyone involved here at the 2023 Dakar Rally.”

2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 14 Provisional Classification

1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1:15:17

2. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:15:52

3. Toby Price (KTM) 1:16:12

4. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 1:18:32

5. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:19:02

6. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 1:19:31

7. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:21:04


2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 14]

1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 44:27:20

2. Toby Price (KTM) 44:28:03

3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 44:32:24

4. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 44:46:22

5. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 44:47:50

6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 44:50:02




More, from a press release issued by GASGAS Factory Racing:



And that’s a wrap from the 2023 Dakar Rally! Signing off on what has been a truly wild two weeks of racing with a close runner-up finish on the 14th and final stage, Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders has brought his RX 450F home safely to secure a gritty seventh place overall result. Not a bad performance at all, especially when you consider that Sanders underwent no less than six operations in the last year following his crash at the 2022 Dakar, as well as getting pretty damn sick halfway through this year’s event. Nice work, Daniel, that was a super-solid effort!

Seventh overall for Daniel Sanders at the 2023 Dakar Rally

Red Bull GASGAS racer completes his second Dakar

Daniel’s RX 450F doesn’t miss a beat through almost 45 hours of racing

Daniel Sanders: “It was going to be difficult today to make up any time but I did what I could and just missed out on the stage win, but overall, I’m super happy. It’s been a long road to get here. After crashing here last year I’ve had six operations, which really limited my preparation, so it’s been great to bounce back and be competitive. It’s been an unreal experience and hopefully next year I can come in stronger and fitter and be more ready to go. The team has been amazing as always and I’m super happy to be here at the finish line in one piece.”

So, GASGAS didn’t win this time around, but it’s been awesome to be back out in the desert and to kick off 2023 with some epic racing. Despite his sickness during the first week and riding with a decent size thorn in his arm for most of the rally, Sanders really did dig deep to complete the Dakar for the second time. Nice work, Chucky!

And that’s all from Dakar 2023 and what a way to start the year! From the highs of Sanders winning a stage and leading the race for a couple days during week one, to Sam Sunderland’s super-frustrating early departure, it’s been a real rollercoaster.

As the dust, and mud, settles in the Saudi desert, it won’t actually be too long until Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing return to action. Up next, in late February, is the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, round two of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship.

Norbert Stadlbauer – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “The 2023 Dakar Rally is now over, and it’s been a really crazy race for the team. It was so frustrating and disappointing to lose Sam, who was the reigning Dakar champion, on day one. Daniel performed very well despite missing most of last season through injury, and in week one he led for a couple of days and won a stage. Unfortunately, a brief illness while leading really effected his race but he kept on pushing to the end and finished seventh which is a great result considering all of the circumstances. I’m really proud of the whole team and we now look forward to the 2023 season.”

Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2023, stage 14

1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1:15:17

2. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:15:52

3. Toby Price (KTM) 1:16:12


Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 14)

1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 44:27:20

2. Toby Price (KTM) 44:28:03

3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 44:32:24

7. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 44:50:17




More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Honda Team:


Today it was time to say goodbye to the 2023 edition of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, after the 14th stage held between Al-Hofuf and Dammam. This completed the 8.549 kilometers of the round one from the World Rally Raid Championship, with the most mythical and certainly hard motorsports off-road competition of all times. This way it also completed the trip from coast to coast, connecting the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.

Monster Energy Honda Team finished the race with three of its four riders, since American and Dakar winner Ricky Brabec had to abandon the race at stage three. The pace was quite high in this last stage, with a short special section 136 kilometers long. This is the year of the rain and mud in a quite unusual Dakar Rally so today this was no exception. With the riders starting in reverse order, spectators could pay tribute to all Dakar heroes. Pablo Quintanilla was the fastest one among the team, with third position on this last stage (03:15 minutes gap) – a result that put him in fourth position overall. Adrien Van Beveren was eight (04:51 minutes gap) and finished this Dakar in 5th position. Finally, José Ignacio Cornejo faced some difficulties after being trapped in the mud and ended in the 34th place. Despite this adversity, the Chilean was able to secure his 8th place overall.

The W2RC championship will return at the end of February keeping the action in the Middle East region. Monster Energy Honda Team is already working on the next stop that will travel to the United Arab Emirates, with the  Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, from 25th February to the third of March.

Ruben Faria

General Manager

“Another Dakar Rally is over and Monster Energy Honda Team was certainly a very relevant squad along the way. We lost Ricky Brabec in a very early phase and kept on track with the other three riders – Pablo Quintanilla, Adrien Van Beveren and José Ignacio Cortejo. I know they did their best every day and in every stage. The final outcome is not what we came here for but this is the Dakar, so let’s continue to work hard as a united team and face the rest of the season with the same winning spirit. ”

Pablo Quintanilla  7

“I am quite happy to be able to finish this Dakar Rally 2023 in Saudi Arabia. Of course this was not the result we were searching for but the feeling is good. I know that I gave one hundred percent every day so I just want to say I am thankful for all the support from the team and this doesn’t go only to the Dakar – it is a year long job. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t – it’s part of the race. ”

Adrien Van Beveren  42

“It’s good to be at the finish, I have to be happy even if this is not a dream result. To finish the Dakar Rally is always a victory and now I remember other times where I could finish due to crashes when I was at the hospital looking at the other on TV. We had a really strong race, I have to remember that. I can’t point out one big mistake I made, the race was a sprint almost everyday. ”

José Ignacio Cornejo  11

“So here we are at the finish line this year, I am happy to reach the end of this Dakar Rally. This one was for sure one of the hardest ones I have ever raced. The result was not what I expected, but I know I did my best at every stage. Now I want to thank the team, family and my fans for all the support. ”

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