Dakar Rally 2023 will go down in historical past because the hardest ever • Complete Motorbike
It was Kevin Benavides’ unbelievable consistency and pace over the 14 phases of racing that paid off, with the Argentinian racer coming from 12 seconds behind on the penultimate day to clinch the win after a blinding show of driving on the very closing stage. His Purple Bull KTM Manufacturing unit Racing teammate Toby Value, who ultimately positioned second, can maintain his head excessive, because the two-time Dakar Champion fought proper to the end, finally shedding out by an agonizing 43 seconds.
The 2023 occasion will undoubtedly go down in historical past as one of many hardest ever for a wide range of causes. Riders coated effectively over 8,000 kilometers in whole, and shut to five,000 of them have been raced towards the clock. If the unforgiving Saudi desert wasn’t powerful sufficient, the heavy rains that fell over the primary week of racing threw one other problem into the combination with flooded rivers and muddy lake beds making racing and navigating even more durable. Add that to the 2 weeks of early mornings and minimal sleep and you find yourself with not solely some of the bodily demanding occasions on this planet, however some of the mentally draining, too.
The primary week of racing at this yr’s Dakar went extremely effectively for the KTM-mounted desert warriors. Kevin Benavides was mendacity second total and was carefully adopted in third by the younger, up-and-coming American Mason Klein. One place behind Mason, Toby Value was lower than two minutes behind the chief on what was already shaping as much as be one of many tightest Dakars in historical past. Rounding out the highest 10 after stage eight was Matthias Walkner – not the place the Austrian needed to occupy, however after crashing on day two and injuring his wrist, the truth that he was even capable of proceed was excellent.
Going into the second week of racing it was all in regards to the dunes. And whereas the navigation was maybe much less demanding, the flexibility to learn the terrain turned much more vital. Mason Klein, who had already topped stage two, sadly suffered two crashes on the primary day again after the remaining day. Though he was capable of proceed, the accidents he sustained would ultimately rule him out of rivalry. The 21-year-old future star was pressured to throw within the towel on day 12. Matthias Walkner was additionally pressured to withdraw someday later when a crash close to the beginning of the particular on day 13 resulted within the Austrian being airlifted to hospital. Fortunately Matthias sustained no critical accidents.
On the shut of that thirteenth day, Kevin Benavides, who had topped the timesheets regardless of stopping to assist the injured Walkner, trailed his teammate Value by simply 12 seconds. The Dakar was going to return right down to a 138-kilometer dash on the ultimate day. With the beginning order reversed for stage 14, Benavides set off second to final, with Value simply three minutes behind. The 2 KTM 450 RALLY riders each gave every part they’d over that closing particular, however there could be only one winner – Kevin Benavides.
With navigation proving crucial on the ultimate day of competitors, by lacking a few waypoints and being pressured to show again, Toby Value completed the stage 55 seconds down on Benavides. The ultimate consequence gave Benavides victory and an unbelievable nineteenth Dakar win for KTM. With Value rounding out the highest two total, it was an unbelievable fortnight of racing for the entire Purple Bull KTM Manufacturing unit Racing group.
Kevin Benavides: “It’s been an incredible day! I simply targeted on each kilometer from the primary to the final. I didn’t take into consideration the place or the consequence I simply gave my 100% over the entire stage and tried to benefit from the day. The ultimate particular was actually quick and tough, and so muddy – fortunately I didn’t make any large errors, however it might have been straightforward to have a problem on the market. I’ve labored so onerous for this. This yr’s rally has been one of many closest ever and there wasn’t a single day the place you could possibly afford to ease off. I couldn’t have finished it with out the help of my group, and all my household and associates. It’s going to take a short time to sink in, I can’t describe this sense proper now.”
Toby Value: “So, so shut. Yeah, a terrific job from Kevin, he did rather well. I knew it was going to be tight, and naturally I pushed proper from the beginning all by the stage. I simply missed three waypoints by just about meters, and it dropped me again. Clearly, the objective is to win, and it’s irritating to overlook out by such a slender margin. However I’m match, wholesome, and I’m going residence with a trophy, in order that’s crucial factor. I’m prepared for an additional one subsequent yr.”
Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Staff Supervisor: “It’s been an unbelievable Dakar – one of many hardest in historical past and undoubtedly the closest! It’s been such a detailed battle contained in the Purple Bull KTM group with Toby and Kevin separated by simply 12 seconds going into the ultimate day as we speak. Fortunately, the performances of each riders gave KTM a one-two within the race, with Kevin incomes his second win and the nineteenth for KTM. In fact, you may’t have two winners, however Toby claiming second place continues to be an unbelievable achievement and right down to the onerous work he has put in over the 2 weeks. The group have additionally finished an incredible job, not simply on the occasion, but in addition over the entire of the previous yr constructing as much as this race. Now it’s time to rejoice earlier than we sit up for the following race within the season.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “Beside the riders, I’m possibly the happiest man on the planet proper now. It’s wonderful after this lengthy journey and this powerful race, to have solely 12 seconds separating the 2 guys coming into this closing day. After which for them to push so onerous over the stage and attain the end line safely and in first and second is unbelievable. After round 5,000 kilometers and over 40 hours of racing, to have them so shut is exceptional, and the entire group did an incredible job to get them right here on this place. What it got here right down to was mainly a motocross race for 130 kilometers. Each riders did an incredible job, and despite the fact that you may solely have one winner, I’m vastly happy with them each, because the stress was actually on as we speak. KTM now have 19 wins on the hardest offroad race on this planet, however we gained’t cease there. We’re already trying ahead to this season after which the 2024 Dakar subsequent yr.”
General Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 44:27:20
2. Toby Value (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