Dakar 2023: Final report - Motos, A fistful of seconds

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 The scenario that unfolded in the motorbike race was even crazier. In a first for the category, Kevin Benavides seized the lead on the very last day, knocking Toby Price from the top of the general standings to prevail by 43 seconds, the narrowest winning margin ever in the Dakar.

Never before had a biker lost the lead of the Dakar in the last special. And never before had the winner and the runner-up been so evenly matched. An unprecedented scenario that came on the back of another historic first, namely, the mere 12 seconds separating KTM's Toby Price and Kevin Benavides on the eve of the finale. The longest Dakar held in Saudi Arabia came down to a sprint, an exercise that both former enduro riders excel in. Price kicked off the 45th edition by winning the prologue before flying under the radar near the front of the race, like the Argentinian, who only came out of the woods to win stage 13 and swoop down on the Australian. The finish was like a hurdling contest in which every checkpoint was a hurdle. In his own words, Price lost the Dakar by stumbling twice. Kevin confessed that he had to backtrack once to validate a waypoint, but Toby did it three times. At the finish, the Argentinian joined the club of two-time Dakar winners (2021 and 2023), 43 seconds ahead of his new peer (2016 and 2019). He joined the ranks of Auriol, Rahier, Meoni, Price himself and Sunderland. 100th last year due to a broken engine, the new winner, signed by KTM after his success on a Honda, puts an end to three years in which the Dakar was painted red. After two victories for Honda and one for GasGas last year, the orange brand from Mattighofen retook the throne with its nineteenth triumph. Skyler Howes, who rides for their sister team Husqvarna, will stand next to them on the podium, although he deserved so much more in his fifth Dakar. The American wore the leader's mantle for six days before being pipped at the post, but he is pumped and proud to clamber onto the podium for the first time —the fifth for an American biker. The 2023 Dakar tasted like sweet revenge for the big losers of the previous edition, when Price lost big time from the beginning and was unable to finish higher than tenth, his worst result at the finish, while Howes crashed out and Kevin Benavides's motorbike gave up the ghost. This time, the Dakar did not smile on the majority of the 2022 headliners. The race ended prematurely for half of last year's top 10, and not just the minnows.

Sunderland, the defending champion, called it quits in stage 1. The next day, it was Brabec who also fell, followed by Barreda in stage 8. Mason Klein, the top rookie in Jeddah in ninth place, who had seized the lead in stage 2 of this Dakar, threw in the towel in stage 13, while Walkner, on the podium last year, crashed on the eve of the finish. Three other works riders found themselves on the receiving end of the Dakar's ruthlessness. Hero's Joaquim Rodrigues and Sherco's Harith Noah were added to the casualty list in stage 4. The Indian's teammate, Rui Gonçalves, retired in stage 6. In this war of attrition, Honda placed three of its four factory riders in the top 10. Quintanilla finished just outside the podium, ahead of Van Beveren, while Cornejo was eighth. Luciano Benavides (HVA), the most prolific stage hunter of this edition, with three, came in sixth. Daniel Sanders, who again lit up the start of the race before his physical condition took its toll, was seventh. Lorenzo Santolino, eleventh last year, patiently played for time on his Sherco to move up to ninth and retake his place in the top 10 after 2021 (sixth). Franco Caimi (Hero) rounded it the first ten, ensuring that all six factory teams in the 45th edition are represented near the top.

Rally2: "Dudu" fast and solid

After Bradley Cox's premature exit following a fall, the contenders for the Rally2 category quickly stepped to the fore. Paolo Lucci and the rookie Michael Docherty pounced first while the flu-struck Romain Dumontier bided his time. Both the Italian and the South African made mistakes, crashing one after the other on the first few days and leaving the French steamroller to pulverise every pitfall before him at a pace that often saw him match the RallyGP bikers. "Dudu" clinched his maiden win in stage 4, took over the reins of the classification the next day and never looked back. Only his teammate Docherty, who lives in the Emirates, subsequently challenged him for two specials in the Empty Quarter, his adoptive stomping ground. The three men ended up fourteenth through sixteenth. Sixteenth overall, Docherty was also the top rookie of this edition. In the Original by Motul race, for riders without assistance in the bivouac, the South African Charan Moore was the favourite to win the category after finishing fourth in his debut last year. He took the spoils after an epic duel with the Spaniard Javi Vega, on whom he gained the upper hand in the second-last special. The veteran Mário Patrão, a Legend status holder, completed the podium. 15 Original by Motul riders survived the toughest Dakar in the Saudi saga, including Kirsten Landman, a woman. The compatriot of the winner of the category finished second in the women's classification, which went to Mirjam Pol from the Netherlands. The winners of the Rally2, Original by Motul, women's and top rookie competitions all ride for HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing. A clean sweep for Henk Hellegers's team of private riders who shine in public! Only the top junior classification escaped his clutches. The Frenchman Jean-Loup Lepan, riding for Nomade Racing, took the competition after finishing fourth in Rally2 and seventeenth overall.


Source A.S.O. / Dakar Rally

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Dakar 2023: Final report - Cars, Quiet aplomb carries the day for Al-Attiyah

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The 45th edition of the Dakar has come to an end in Dammam after 14 stages that saw dramatic turnarounds in every category. Nasser Al Attiyah's victorious campaign did not come as a surprise, but his first successful title defence earned him the fifth triumph of his career and the distinction of winning by the widest margin seen in the car race in 20 years. Second at 1 h 20, Sébastien Loeb bent the knee to the Qatari, but he also added his name to the Dakar record books with a string of six consecutive stage wins (seven in total).

Scoring 5/20 is usually very bad news, but in the case of Nasser Al Attiyah, who claimed his fifth Bedouin trophy in his twentieth Dakar start (including the 2008 edition, as the bivouac is wont to do), his track record shows that he is one of the most keen-sighted and visionary competitors in the world of rally raids. The lean, mean winning machine really got going in 2011, in a Volkswagen Touareg with Timo Gottschalk in the right seat. He has since given the lie to his reputation as a car-smasher, and his partnership with the navigator Mathieu Baumel since 2015 has yielded another four victories: in 2015 in a Mini and in 2019, 2022 and 2023 behind the wheel of a Toyota Hilux. The duo produced a masterpiece on the sands of Saudi Arabia, taking the lead without haste on the evening of stage 3 before going on to reach the rest day 1 h 20 ahead of the rest after the harsh terrain dashed the hopes of all the challengers. Prodrive's Hunters were knocked out of contention by a flurry of punctures in stage 2, while the Audis of Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz lost all hope of success at the foot of a dune in stage 6. The sweet taste of victory will have to wait for the electric RS Q e-tron cars, of which only one unit, with Mattias Ekström at the wheel, made it to the finish a fortnight after winning the prologue around the Sea Camp.

Sébastien Loeb, the only one of Toyota's rivals to avoid certain doom, embarked on an ultimately futile yet gutsy pursuit ahead of the Empty Quarter and all the way to the finish in Dammam. On his heroic ride through the desert, the nine-time WRC world champion racked up one stage win after another, taming the dunes like never before and producing an impeccable performance that made him go down in history with a streak of six stage wins in a row, beating Ari Vatanen's five in 1989. Nasser, jumping to warp speed with aplomb, refused to engage on these terms and cruised to Dammam, where his lead over Loeb, also his runner-up last year, was not a minute less than 1 h 20. Al Attiyah's fifth success also puts into perspective the talent of the great Finnish master, who won the Dakar "only" four times, but in just five starts. Looking ahead, his 2023 harvest also brings the Qatari closer to Vatanen's record of 50 stage wins, with 47 so far, as well as Stéphane Peterhansel's eight car titles. The Toyota clan has a lot of reasons to celebrate, as the bottom step of the podium went to a newcomer to both the team and the Dakar. The Brazilian Lucas Moraes is the first rookie to crack the top 3 of the car race since Juha Kankkunen won in 1988. Another two Hilux drivers round out the top 5: the ever-consistent Giniel de Villiers, in his fifteenth finish in this select club, and fellow South African Henk Lategan, who will try to repeat his mentor's exploit with a win in the future. Faced with this display of shock and awe, Martin Prokop's sixth place is much more than a consolation prize, while Wei Han achieved the highest finish ever for a Chinese driver in eighth place. Sebastián Halpern, ninth in Team X-raid's brand-new T1+, will tap his optimism to interpret this as a sign to keep going, as will Guerlain Chicherit, whose haul of two stage wins —including the finale—, nine top 5 finishes and place in the top 10 overall proved that he can go toe to toe with the heavy hitters.

Source A.S.O. / Dakar Rally

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Dakar 2023: Video - Final stage

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Dakar 2023: Final stage - "Not done yet with Dakar, we certainly want more"

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Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco happy with third and fourth place

Martin and Mitchel van den Brink return to Harskamp with the trophy and medals for third and fourth place respectively in the 2023 Dakar Rally. “We are very pleased, but we certainly want more.”
Today Martin van den Brink finished fifth. Mitchel was again close to a stage victory. The young Harskamper once again showed his speed and finished second in the stage for the sixth time. “We went for the win today, but just fell short.”
The final chord of the 45th Dakar Rally was a short special on the beach along the Persian Gulf. It certainly wasn't the toughest special. For the real rally pilots a great opportunity to complete their list of honors with a victory. That was also the plan of Mitchel, Moi Torrallardona and Jarno van de Pol.
After 136 kilometers of racing through the sand, the team was seven seconds short of a stage victory. The Lithuanian Vaidotas Paskevicius messed up the plans for Mitchel in his Tatras. “Today there were no team orders so I wanted to win. We lost too much time on the first part. Then we made up a lot of time in the last part, but overall, we just fell a bit short.”
Learned much
With a victory, six second places and a fourth place in the final standings, the 21-year-old Harskamper has no reason to complain. “I am certainly satisfied. It's a pity that we lost so much time in the second stage because of those four punctures. But we learned a lot again and that was also one of the goals.”
The loss of time for Mitchel and his co-pilots in the first week partly determined his role in the second week. “After the rest day we had to supply so called fast assistance to the other 2 pilots of our team. We really raced and competed as a team. Very nice that Janus takes the win for Team De Rooy."
Behind the winner from Veldhoven, Martin Macik took second place in front of Martin. Fourth place for Mitchel was never in danger. The lead on the number five (Jaroslav Valtr) is more than an hour. “I am happy with this result and with our performance throughout the rally. We have shown that we can compete with the top players. That gives confidence for the future. Now we are going to enjoy it first and next year I hope to be able to take another step.”
"Tastes for more"
Martin van den Brink, Erik Kofman and Richard Mouw will have to report on the podium in Dammam this evening for the final ceremony. The trophy for third place will be on board the airplane tomorrow going home to the Harskamp. “We are satisfied,'' said Martin just after the last special stage.
“We had a bit of bad luck with the technique, but we also drove an excellent rally,'' said the leader of Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco. “In addition to the victory for Janus, this is a great result for Team De Rooy. Our third place and the fourth place for Mitchel certainly make me happy. We have shown that we can compete for the win. We are certainly not done with the Dakar yet."
At the end of the special, both trucks of Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco were welcomed by dozens of fans. “I really enjoy seeing so many friends at the finish,'' said 52-year-old Harskamper. “My wife, daughter, all members of Team De Rooy, Dennis Marsman the director of Eurol and Gert Bouwman gave us a warm and festive welcome. It was very nice.”
Eindhoven airport
The teams will bring all vehicles to the port today. After the ceremony, the men of Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco will spend the night in Bahrain. Monday morning the team leaves for the airport at 7:30 am. After a stopover in Bulgarian Burgas, the formation is expected to land at 4.25 pm at the airport in Eindhoven.


Source Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco

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Dakar 2023: Final stage: Desert Miracle, Motorsport fairy tale - Moraes and Gottschalk celebrate podium finish

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  • Reliability stings: Lucas Moraes and Timo Gottschalk finish surprisingly outstanding "Dakar" third
  • Brazilian-Brandenburg duo the revelation of the 45th edition of the desert classic thanks to zero-fault job
  • Expectations exceeded on all levels: Moraes/Gottschalk master 4,247 brutally demanding "Dakar" kilometers with brains

The kings of consistency have been crowned: Lucas Moraes and Timo Gottschalk caused a fist-pumping sensation by finishing third in the 2023 Dakar Rally. The Brazilian-Brandenburg duo managed the often desired but almost impossible to achieve zero-fault job in the world's toughest motorsport event, which took them across extremely demanding terrain through Saudi Arabia. Rookie Lucas Moraes' podium finish marks the first achieved by a rookie in this millennium's Dakar Rally in the automobile classification. The last time this was achieved was in 1990 by Björn Waldegård, at the time one month after Lucas Moraes was born. Experience means everything - the last five "Dakar" podiums were shared by just seven different drivers, all of whom also competed this year and four of whom reached the finish. For Timo Gottschalk it was his third podium finish in 15 Dakar Rally events since 2009, following second place in 2010 and victory in 2011 - then as co-driver to Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Whether extreme gravel sections and endless scree, fast sand tracks and off-piste, small "dunettes" and gigantic dunes, soft, hard or water-soaked desert sand - Lucas Moraes set the ideal pace as a driver in all situations, sparing the material as much as necessary, but decelerating as little as possible. Timo Gottschalk provided support by "reading" the dunes and with a great deal of experience, always maintaining a navigational overview in the maze of canyons or during compass navigation through open countryside. Remarkable: 33-year-old Lucas Moraes lifts the third largest "Dakar" trophy exactly 44 days after his very first competition in the desert sand.

During the tough tour through Saudi Arabia, from the coast on the Red Sea, detours to the off-road center around Ha'il in the north of the country or into the world's largest sand desert - the Empty Quarter - and all the way to the finish on the Persian Gulf, Moraes/Gottschalk limited their downtimes to a maximum. The duo, which was newly formed for this Dakar Rally, recorded only three punctures, only once did they dig themselves into the desert sand and that only undramatically for a few minutes. In view of the 4,247 kilometers against the clock, 8,877 in total, and bearing in mind the challenges they faced, this is the much-vaunted zero-fault job that many teams dream of but only achieve in exceptional cases. Another factor: Their Toyota Hilux according to T1-plus regulations, used by the experienced Overdrive team from Belgium did not let them down once.

With their unflinching but uncompromisingly consistent driving, Lucas Moraes and Timo Gottschalk surprisingly worked their way up to a podium position in the 2023 Dakar Rally as early as the sixth of 14 competition days. They finished third for the first time at stage kilometer 2,210 of 4,247. From there on they remained on a virtual podium - on nine stages in a row. Three of them even as runners-up. Before the "Dakar" Moraes/Gottschalk had set themselves the ultimate goal of finishing in the top ten of the daily standings at least once. They achieved this feat on 10 of 14 possible occasions. Considering the class of the field - at least 20 teams were considered candidates for the podium - in retrospect this was a realistic goal, but one that was far exceeded.

The fact that Lucas Moraes and Timo Gottschalk exceeded expectations on all levels was also appreciated by their opponents - such as the eventual winners Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA, Toyota), quote: "The future of the Dakar Rally. The Brazilian-Brandenburg duo cleverly capitalized on their starting positions, hanging on to top favorites to learn driving techniques, the rhythm or the possible pace in the desert from their box seat position. Lucas Moraes, who arrived at the Dakar Rally with the aim of learning, saw his learning curve rise steeply accordingly. In the very terrain that was the great unknown for the Paulista - desert sand - he celebrated his best daily results: once third place and once fourth place in the notorious Empty Quarter.

Lucas Moraes: "I think this was a tough 'Dakar' not only for me as a rookie. The freak weather at the beginning, the extremely long days in the first week. Plus the desert stages in the second week, which were really tough. The fact that we made it onto the podium on my debut and kept up with the top riders makes me really proud. The teamwork with Timo was great and he contributed a lot to the success with his experience. His commitment was great. I hope we can repeat that!"

Timo Gottschalk: "I'd have to be pinched for a moment, please: We're on the podium! It's the third time for me, after 2010 and 2011 with Nasser Al-Attiyah - but there we, more or less, lived up to expectations. This third place with Lucas, however, exceeds all expectations and goals - that feels particularly good. I couldn't be more proud of what we've achieved in the past two weeks or so. Lucas has shown an incredible amount of talent and has always done everything right. I've also played a good part in this. I'm very happy to have been given the chance to compete with Lucas."

Automatic translation from the original German version
Source Dakar.direct / Timo Gottschalk
Photo: MEM Motorsport / Red Bull Content Pool
Portuguese press release from MEM Motorsport available on www.todoterreno.pt

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Dakar 2023: Final stage - Kevin Benavides and KTM win the 2023 Dakar Rally

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 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


Source:  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Final stage - Skyler Howes claims 2023 Dakar Rally podium

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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


Husqvarna Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023 - Final stage - Three Honda riders in the top 10 positions

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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. ”
Source Monster Energy Honda Team
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Dakar 2023: Final stage - Daniel Sanders and Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing complete 2023 Dakar Rally in seventh overall

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  • 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

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!

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 on the opening special, 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


Source Red Bull GASGAS Rally Team

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Dakar 2023: Final stage - Guerlain Chicherit lays down a marker in the championship

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Guerlain Chicherit and GCK Motorsport’s final score in the 2023 Dakar includes two leg victories, 11 special stages in the top 5, 50 points clinched in the World Rally-Raid Championship, and a noteworthy 10th place finish. But beyond these figures, the driver and his team made a big impact and gathered precious information for the continuation of their multiple programmes.

Last September when Guerlain Chicherit announced that he had signed up with Prodrive for two outings in the Dakar (2023 and 2024), as well as a full season in the 2023 W2RC World Championship in a Hunter, he stated that his ambition was to fight at the front. He’s won his bet! First time out he clinched victory in the Moroccan Rally last October and the GCK Motorsport driver has put on a scintillating display every day in the 2023 Dakar scoring outright two leg victories (3, 14) and finishing 11 times in the points. Today, thanks to his consistency at the sharp end of the field, he has installed himself in third place in the W2RC classification with 50 points behind the winner of the 2023 Dakar, Nasser Al-Attiyah (85 points), and runner-up Sébastien Loeb (87 points). There are still four more events to go in this championship in which Chicherit emerged victorious in 2009 when it was called the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

But Chicherit and his co-driver, Alex Winocq, will have other memories of the 2023 Dakar including the five punctures in the second stage and the power steering failure in the fourth. These two incidents cost them 5h30 in relation to the overall winner. This evening they will have some regrets if this time loss is compared with the 5h22 separating the French crew from the victorious duo, Al-Attiyah-Baumel. There’s no doubt that a podium finish was well within their grasp, but with “ifs and ands…”
By finishing the 2023 Dakar with a vehicle powered by sustainable biofuel, GCK Motorsport has ticked the first box in the GCK Group’s strategic plan. While the rally was taking place in Saudi Arabia, in France the group was pushing ahead with the development of its hydrogen vehicle that’s capable of coping with all the constraints - performance, endurance, robustness - imposed by the most difficult races in the world. Watch this space!

Guerlain Chicherit, GCK Motorsport driver : "Congratulations to Nasser and Mathieu for their victory and to Sébastien and Fabian for their fantastic remontada. Alex and I are finishing with the satisfaction of being able to remobilise after a frustrating second leg by the end of which we’d already lost any chance of winning the rally. The car suffered, and so did I. Cars have become so efficient that they take us to the limits of our bodies. This even went as far as a brief loss of consciousness on landing a jump. Despite the pain, we managed to score several top five finishes in the second half of the rally, allowing us to made a solid start in the context of the championship. We know what we still have to do to improve the Prodrive Hunter and we’ve gathered a lot of precious data to develop our e-Blast H2."


Source GCK Motorsport

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Dakar 2023: Final stage - Loeb leads world championship following record run on Dakar

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Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin have taken second overall on Dakar 2023 following over two weeks and 5,000 kilometres of relentless, punishing stages across some of the world’s most hostile terrain. Loeb/Lurquin set a new Dakar record of consecutive stage wins yesterday on their way to taking 50% of the stages this year, a feat that has helped them now lead the World Rally Raid Championship after the first round of five.

Battling through some of the worst mud seen on a Dakar stage for years following heavy rain in the region, the BRX Hunter held it’s own to be safely inside the Top 10 for Loeb today on the final test but it was the pace of the sister GCK Motorsport Hunter of Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq that impressed today as they took their second stage win this year. That means the Prodrive Hunter has taken nine wins from 14 stages in 2023 to prove it is arguably one of the most versatile and drivable cars on the world stage right now.

Set backs with punctures over a particularly rocky section on stage two curtailed Loeb/Lurquin Hunter dropping them to 31st overall, but they never gave up and fought through to another podium spot after last year’s similar result. Likewise today’s winning pace of Chicherit/Winocq today elevated them into 10th place overall following similar set backs last week and also kept them in third place in the World Rally Raid Championship.

For everyone at Bahrain Raid Xtreme and Prodrive, we are proud to have taken such results on the world’s toughest motorsport event with sustainable fuel and 80% less CO2 emissions but our eyes are still on the top step. Our congratulations go to Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel for winning the rally, but all at BRX are already looking forward to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the next battle.

Sébastien Loeb: “Thank you to everybody in the BRX team for this result. I’m really proud for the job on the car that was really strong. We had hardly any problems with the car itself, just the punctures in the first week that were really bad luck as we were trying to take it easy but those flats lost us more than two hours so to finish second here today is very good considering where we were. We had a very good second part of the rally; we enjoyed it; we had fun in the car as it was so good so it was just brilliant as we could still fight for something and come all the way back to second place. We’ve taken good points for the Championship, taken a new Dakar record with six consecutive stage wins so I’m still happy. For sure I would prefer to win because now it is my third second place but not everybody finishes on this kind of rally...
Our pace in the dunes was almost surprising to myself to win all the stages in the Empty Quarter even when being first on the road so that’s such a strong point for the future for Fabian, me and the team. I’ve improved my driving since Abu Dhabi (last year) so with that rally up next, hopefully we can be on a good rhythm again.”

Guerlain Chicherit : “It was amazing to really be here at the finish because some stages I was not sure I was able to get the car back each night because I was so sick so I’m happy to see this finish line. Today I knew it was my chance because there were no dunes so we could push really hard to at least win the last one and we made it so it’s amazing. We’re really happy.”

David Richards - BRX Team Director : “That was an incredible performance by the team, tinged with a little bit of disappointment at the beginning but if you look overall the team feels very proud of itself as all drivers and crews pulled their weight pulling back from those early set backs. What we have done is show just how quick and reliable this car is so to leave here leading the World Rally Raid Championship is a testament to everybody involved."

Gus Beteli, Team Principal: “It was a difficult start to the rally but we are very proud of what we have done since then winning nine stages and six in a row with Seb is a huge testament to everyone and all the work they’ve done here on the rally and back at base. Looking forward we have a World Rally Raid Championship to concentrate on and our return next year with our eyes solely on one goal”

Stage 14. Al-Hofuf to Dammam. 136kms.
Stage Results:
1st. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter
8th. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – Prodrive Hunter

Overall Results:
2nd. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – Prodrive Hunter
10th. G. Chicherit / A. Winocq – Prodrive Hunter

Source Bahrain Raid Xtreme / Prodrive

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Dakar 2023: Final stage - The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team make history with their first-ever Dakar Rally victory

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The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich have conquered the 2023 Dakar Rally. Not only did the young squad take the first two positions in the overall T3 rankings, they also won more than half of the 14 stages contested in Saudi Arabia. These achievements are remarkable rewards for what the youth focused driver program has already accomplished in just a few short years.

One of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team’s most recent recruits has been Austin ‘AJ’ Jones. Winner of last year’s T4 race at the Dakar, this time the 26-year-old lined up in the T3 contest for the first time. In his Can-Am Maverick alongside co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin, the Arizonian ran his own race to top the T3 rankings and make it back-to-back Dakar wins.

“A big shout out to all the team, all the work that goes on behind the scenes. We couldn’t do it without the help of those guys. My navigator Gustavo did a great job. We’ve done it, two years in a row!” AJ Jones

Jones’s victory adds to an ever increasing list of impressive results collected by the Junior Team at the Dakar. Not only have the team broken records such as youngest stage winner, most stage wins at a rally by a single driver plus winning every stage of the 2022 Dakar, now they have claimed their first-ever overall Dakar win!

Pushing Jones hard all the way to the finish line was his fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich driver Seth Quintero. The 20-year-old Californian looked to have his hopes of a successful Dakar dashed in the first week due to technical issues and water found in the tank of his car which most probably came in from event organisation fuel. Despite these setbacks he battled back to make second spot his own.

Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz helped themselves to two stage wins along the way as they parked their Can-Am Maverick on the overall podium. You can be sure this pair will be back to fight for first place at the next edition of the Dakar.

“To finally drive through every stage of the Dakar feels amazing. It’s only 350 days until the next one so we’re going get working on that.”Seth Quintero

If you really want to know what racing the Dakar is all about then check out the last two weeks experienced the team’s third race crew, Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch. This pair made a dream start to the rally in their T3-M by MCE5 Developments machine and held the overall T3 lead in the first week.

Some teething issues with the new car then saw Guthrie Jr. and Walch drop down the overall rankings. However, the duo fought back to end the 2023 Dakar with five stage wins and gathered plenty of data to help the team to develop a vehicle to race in the T3-U (Ultimate) category at next year’s Dakar.

Guthrie Jr. and Walch sacrificing their own charge at a sixth stage win of the Dakar to help out team-mate Rokas Baciuška who ran into difficult while fighting for overall victory in the T4 class highlighted the duo's team player attitude.

“We’ve got plenty more racing coming up this year to get excited about. We’ve also got our plans for the 2024 Dakar Rally.”Mitch Guthrie Jr.

5,000 kilometres of racing spread across 14 stages have now been completed by all three of the team’s race crews. A one-two finish in the overall T3 rankings has been scored as well as a total of eight stage wins.

The ethos behind the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich is to give young, talented and hungry off-racers the chance to shine at the world’s top races. Well, they just dominated the Dakar Rally and it doesn’t get much bigger and better than that!

AJ Jones:That last stage was pretty tough, we lost four-wheel drive before the stage even started. I’d heard there was going to be a lot of mud. I ended up getting a little stressed out in some crazy places with only two-wheel drive. But we made it through the mud and got to the finish.”
“This has been the toughest and longest Dakar that I’ve ever done. We’ve had ups and downs, but along the way we’ve tried to stay as consistent as we could. Now we’ve taken another win. Back-to-back wins at the Dakar feels pretty good.”
“A big shout out to all the team, all the work that goes on behind the scenes. We couldn’t do it without the help of those guys. My navigator Gustavo did a great job. We’ve done it, two years in a row!”

Seth Quintero: “We can look back at that one stage where we ran out of fuel to see what cost us the win, but I’m happy to be on the podium. To finally drive through every stage of the Dakar feels amazing. It’s only 350 days until the next one so we’re going get working on that.”
“The mental game was tough this year. Physically I felt great even though it really felt like the longest Dakar I’ve done. The stages were proper and they definitely sent us through some stuff that we’d never been through before.”

Mitch Guthrie Jr.: “This has been a crazy ride, so many ups and downs the whole way. At the end we can look back on five stage wins. This is the first Dakar that I’ve made it to the finish line so that feels good. On this last stage the Dakar showed again that anything can happen on every kilometre.”
“We’ve got plenty more racing coming up this year to get excited about. We’ve also got our plans for the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Selected Final T3 Overall Standings
1. AJ Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) CAN-AM 51:55:53
2. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (GER) CAN-AM +52:05
3. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL)/François Cazalet (FRA) OT3 +01:35:42
23. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) MCE5 +27:58:08

Source Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team
Photo: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool

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