Rallye

Toby Price Takes 2023 Rallye du Maroc Win While Luciano Benavides Claims 2023 World Championship

Author: Garry Morrow

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Photo of Toby Price at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Toby Price did all he could to win the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship but had to settle for second, despite winning the final rally of the year. Photo: Ingine Creators

Toby Price has claimed victory at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc while Luciano Benavides has taken victory in the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship.

Giving his all to win the final round of this year’s FIM World Rally-Raid Championship, Price’s result wasn’t quite enough to secure him the rally-raid title. The Australian ultimately finished in second place in the overall championship standings, just four points behind eventual winner Luciano Benavides.

Today it was time to race the last stage of the six-day program, with a short but very intense road-book around the dunes of Merzouga, in the very south of Morocco.

Knowing he had to win at the Rallye du Maroc, Price gave it everything and came out on top. Disappointed not to have taken the title, but happy with his performances throughout the year, Price now looks ahead to the 2024 Dakar Rally where he will challenge for his third victory at the world’s toughest rally-raid.

“Yeah, It was a really good stage! I had one little mishap but other than that I’m happy to have won the round here in Morocco,” Price reflected. “The championship is a hard one to swallow, we put up a good fight and did everything we could but 2023 just hasn’t been the greatest season for us. I’m happy in the fact that I never gave up and put in 100 per cent right to the finish. I’ll take a little time now to get some rest but then we’re soon looking ahead to the Dakar in January. For sure, it’s going to be another tough one, but I’m feeling good, the bike is great, and I’ll do my best as always.”

Photo of Luciano Benavides at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Luciano Benavides has claimed an impressive 10 stage wins over the course of the five-round season to secure the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. Photo: Ingine Creators

Luciano Benavides secured the title with a hard-fought runner-up result, completing what has been an exceptional season for the Argentinian.

Opening the fifth and final stage of the rally today, Benavides delivered another impressive performance, completing the short, 157-kilometre timed special as the second fastest. The stage result confirmed Luciano as runner-up for the event and in turn, the 28-year-old secured the world championship crown.

Photo of Luciano Benavides at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Luciano Benavides heads into the sun with the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. Photo: Ingine Creators

“It’s a dream come true for me! It’s been a long journey to get to this point from finishing my first rally here in Morocco in 2017,” Benavides said. “To finish like this against Toby on the last day of the rally while opening the stage is incredible, I can’t thank the team enough for all the hard work and their belief in me! Today was crazy! The navigation for this stage was tricky, I did get lost at some points, but I managed to get back on track quickly and make up time. I loved opening the stage on the dunes and I knew that I had to get ahead as the others would be catching me up. Finally, I’ve got my first World Championship! Waiting for confirmation of the championship when I finished was tense, 40 minutes felt like four hours, but I knew I gave my best today as there was no other option. It was really special to start first because I could just look forward and get on with it, and no one caught me so I finished first too. I want to celebrate and enjoy this feeling for a while because although it is amazing, it’s been a tough season and I have trained hard so I want to rest for a week or two! After that, it’s full gas again because I want to keep the same rhythm and pace for Dakar as it’s another dream for me to win.”

Photo of Pablo Quintanilla at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Pablo Quintanilla won the final stage a result that secured third in the final Rally od 2023.

Pablo Quintanilla – who was the winner in Morocco two years ago – won the final stage by one minute and twenty-four seconds. With this performance, Quintanilla secured a final podium position in third place.

“It feels great to be back on the podium today after a quite complicated race. My confidence is higher because I could ride fast and with a good rhythm. Thinking about our next big and main challenge – the Dakar Rally – this was for sure a very important experience,” Quintanilla said.

Photo of Tosha Schareina at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Tosha Schareina finished with two stage wins and third on the final stage to finish fifth overall.

Tosha Schareina finished his time on the Rallye du Maroc with a third on the final stage after earlier winning two stages. This left the Spaniard in fifth place overall for the Rally.

“I gave it all this week trying to make up for lost time from day one and am really happy with how the rest of it went, winning the prologue and two of the five stages,” Schareina said.

Photo of Ross Branch at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Ross Branch was the number four man. Fourth on the final stage, fourth overall and fourth in the final championship standings.

Ross Branch finished fourth, missing the stage podium by a mere two seconds and finished in the same position in the overall rankings, and also the World Championship rankings.

“This was indeed a good rally, and we made some good steps in the right direction,” a positive Branch said. “I believe it was a good ending for the 2023 season. Of course, I would’ve liked to have been on the podium, but the other competitors were going all out today on the last stage. Everyone was pushing their limits, so I had to too, and unfortunately, I made a small mistake towards the end in the dunes. It was a fabulous effort by all the competitors – I enjoyed this awesome week of racing. Congratulations to the world champions! We’re ready to fight again in the next year, starting with the Dakar Rally coming up soon!”

Aussie privateer Toby Hederics finished 17th overall and 6th in class and best placed Rookie.

Adrien Van Beveren had his best result on the final stage finishing fifth but more impressively secured the final podium place with third in the 2023 Championship standings.

“Today I felt so much better riding my Honda CRF 450 Rally. I think that is not just an individual outcome, but also the result of the efforts of the team. It was also a pleasure to ride in the dunes of Merzouga, that is the kind of terrain I love. I leave Morocco happy and confident that I will reach the next Dakar Rally at my highest level,” the Frenchman said.

Teams will now put the season behind them and focus now on the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Photo of Toby Price at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc

2023 Rallye du Maroc – Stage 5 Provisional Classification
1 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 1:49:17
2 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:50:41
3 Tosha Schareina (Honda) 1:52:51
4 Ross Branch (Hero) 1:52:53
5 Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 1:53:15
6 Toby Price (KTM) 1:54:05

2023 Rallye du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 5]
1 Toby Price (KTM) 15:56:43
2 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 15:59:43
3 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 15:59:55
4 Ross Branch (Hero) 16:01:27
5 Tosha Schareina (Honda) 16:05:23
6 Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 16:09:42

2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship Standings
1 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 100 points
2 Toby Price (KTM) 96 points
3 Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 76 points
4 Ross Branch (Hero) 58 points
5 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 55 points
6 Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 52 points

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