After 14 levels and 8549km of inhospitable Saudi Arabian desert, Australia’s Toby Worth has, agonisingly, completed a mere 44 seconds wanting successful his third Dakar Rally, with the outcome not determined till the ultimate few kilometres of what was broadly considered one of many hardest Dakars of all-time. The one comfort for the understandably disenchanted Worth was that this yr’s win was taken by his Crimson Bull KTM Manufacturing unit Racing teammate, 34-year-old Argentine, Kevin Benavides. Benavides has now gained two of the 4 Dakars hosted by Saudi Arabia, and his victory takes KTM Dakar-win tally to 19!
Let’s test in with the KTM staff and riders as they replicate on their achievement after two gruelling weeks’ racing in Saudi Arabia…
Taking the win on the 13th and penultimate stage on Saturday, Kevin Benavides closed down the hole to provisional rally chief, Toby Worth, to simply 12 seconds. And with the beginning order reversed for the ultimate day of racing from Al Hofuf to Dammam, the 2 KTM 450 Rally racers would set off proper from the again – Benavides leaving three minutes forward of his teammate.
Though the ultimate timed particular had been considered a comparatively easy dash to the end, the 136 kilometres of gravel tracks, sand, and dry lake beds threw up a substantial problem to all riders. Nonetheless, it was Benavides who piled on the pace and mastered the terrain to take his second consecutive stage win of the occasion, and extra importantly, the general rally victory.
Kevin’s journey by means of the 14-stage race has been one in all excellent consistency. Although the Argentinian didn’t decide up one single second in bonus time for opening any levels, he completed inside the highest 10 every single day for the entire two weeks of racing. It was this skillful and calculated strategy to the occasion that earned him his second profession Dakar Rally victory.
The outcome makes it two Dakar titles for Benavides – 2021 and 2023 – and marks KTM’s 19th win on the Dakar.
Kevin Benavides: “It’s been an incredible day! I simply centered on each kilometre from the primary to the final. I didn’t take into consideration the place or the outcome I simply gave my one hundred pc over the entire stage and tried to benefit from the day. The particular was actually quick and tough, and so muddy – fortunately I didn’t make any large errors, however it will have been simple to have a problem on the market at the moment. I’ve labored so arduous for this. This yr’s rally has been one of many closest ever and there wasn’t a single day the place you can afford to ease off. I couldn’t have accomplished it with out the assist of my staff, and all my household and mates. It’s going to take a short time to sink in; I can’t describe this sense proper now.”
Main the standings going into the 14th and closing stage of the race by simply 12 seconds, Toby Worth was the final rider to enter the particular. Aiming to chase down Benavides who had set off three minutes forward of him, Toby received his head down and gave his all proper from the beginning. A few points early within the stage value the Aussie the precious seconds he wanted to remain in entrance, and regardless of clawing again shut to at least one minute on the latter half of the particular, it wasn’t fairly sufficient to overtake the flying Benavides.
Toby has produced an unbelievable efficiency over the course of the two-week race. Securing no fewer than 10 top-five stage outcomes, and a win on the occasion’s opening prologue, the two-time Dakar champion was undoubtedly the person to beat all through the rally. Lacking out by lower than one minute after greater than 44 hours of racing is in fact irritating, however realizing he gave his absolute all each single day, Toby is pleased with how he rode and with the hard-fought runner-up outcome he’s secured on the world’s hardest rally-raid.
Toby Worth: “So, so shut. Yeah, an ideal job from Kevin. He did rather well at the moment. I knew it was going to be tight, and naturally I pushed proper from the beginning all by means of the stage. I simply missed three waypoints by just about metres, and it dropped me again. Clearly, the objective is to win, and it’s irritating to overlook out by such a slim margin. However I’m match, wholesome, and I’m going residence with a trophy, in order that’s a very powerful factor. I’m prepared for an additional one subsequent yr.”
After a heavy crash on stage two the place he injured his wrist, Matthias Walkner demonstrated his grit and drive by persevering with with the rally. As his situation improved, the Austrian was in a position to ship stronger and stronger stage outcomes because the race went on. On the shut of stage 12, Matthias had moved again as much as a extremely commendable ninth total. Sadly, catastrophe struck on the penultimate Stage 13 of the occasion the place a heavy crash off the highest of a dune left Walkner with appreciable again ache. Fortunately, after being airlifted to hospital for additional checks, the 2018 Dakar winner was discovered to not have damaged any bones or suffered any critical damage. We want Matthias all the very best for a speedy restoration.
Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Group 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 Crimson Bull KTM staff with Toby and Kevin separated by simply 12 seconds going into the ultimate day at the moment. Fortunately, the performances of each riders gave KTM a one-two within the race, with Kevin incomes his second win and the 19th for KTM. After all, you’ll be able to’t have two winners, however Toby claiming second place remains to be an unbelievable achievement and right down to the arduous work he has put in over the 2 weeks. The staff have additionally accomplished an incredible job, not simply on the occasion, but additionally 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 perhaps the happiest man on the planet proper now. It’s superb after this lengthy journey and this robust race, to have solely 12 seconds separating the 2 guys coming into this closing day. After which for them to push so arduous over the stage and attain the end line safely and in first and second is unbelievable. After round 5000 kilometres and over 40 hours of racing, to have them so shut is unparalleled, and the entire staff 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 kilometres. Each riders did an incredible job, and despite the fact that you’ll be able to solely have one winner, I’m vastly happy with them each, because the stress was actually on at the moment. 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.”
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 Worth (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 FINAL STANDINGS – 2023 DAKAR RALLY
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 44:27:20
2. Toby Worth (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