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Kevin Benavides Edges Out Toby Price To Win The 2023 Dakar Rally

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Photo of rally rider Kevin Benavides in the 2023 Dakar Rally stage fourteen
Kevin Benavides is now a two-time Dakar champion after closing down the gap and overtaking overnight leader Toby Price on the final stage. Photo: Rally Zone

Kevin Benavides has led home Toby Price in the last stage battle of the teammates to secure overall victory in the 2023 Dakar Rally.

Price claimed second overall while Skyler Howes finished the rally third overall after completing the final stage in fifth place. Aussie Daniel Sanders finished second on the final stage to secure seventh place overall

Taking the win on the thirteenth and penultimate stage yesterday, Kevin Benavides closed down the gap to provisional rally leader Toby Price to just twelve seconds. And with the start order reversed for the final day of racing from Al Hofuf to Dammam, the duo would set off right from the back – Benavides leaving three minutes ahead of Price.

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.

Benavides’ 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 ten 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.

Photo of rally rider Kevin Benavides in the 2023 Dakar Rally stage fourteen
The 2023 Dakar top three, Kevin Benavides (47) Toby Price (8), and Skyler Howes (10). Photo: Rally Zone

“It’s been an amazing day! I just focused on every kilometer from the first to the last,” Benavides explained. “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.”

Toby Price went into the final stage with a 12-second advantage but fell victim to Benavides’ speed and a slight hiccup with a waypoint. Photo: Rally Zone

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, the two-time winner 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 in the latter half of the special, it wasn’t quite enough to overhaul the flying Benavides.

Price also 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 was happy with how he rode and with the hard-fought runner-up result he secured at the world’s toughest rally-raid.

Photo of rally rider Toby Price in the 2023 Dakar Rally stage fourteen
Toby Price 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. Photo: Rally Zone

“So, so close. Yeah, a great job from Kevin, he did really well today,” Price said. “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.”

Photo of rally rider Skyler Howes in the 2023 Dakar Rally stage fourteen
Skyler Howes had a career-best ride to finish in third place overall. Photo: Rally Zone

Skyler Howes battled through 14 stages of intense racing to finish in an excellent third place. In what has been a career-best ride for the American, Howes 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, Howes 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.

“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,” Howes reflected. “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.”

Photo of rally rider Pablo Quintanilla in the 2023 Dakar Rally stage fourteen
Pablo Quintanilla finished fourth overall. Photo: Rally Zone

Pablo Quintanilla and Adrien Van Beveren were fourth and fifth respectively while Luciano Benavides finished one spot ahead of Daniel Sanders in sixth.

After finishing the final stage in second place Sanders completed the 2023 Dakar safely to secure a gritty seventh-place overall result. Not a bad performance at all, especially when you consider that the Victorian 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.

“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,” Sanders said. “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.”

Photo of rally rider Daniel Sanders in the 2023 Dakar Rally stage fourteen
Daniel Sanders seventh overall was especially impressive when you consider that the Victorian underwent no less than six operations in the last year following his crash at the 2022 Dakar

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
7 Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 44:50:17

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