A 12-second lead at the start of the stage to a 43-second loss to his team-mate at the end – it’s a Dakar that has definitely eluded Toby Price and it hurts. A lots of.
Australia’s Toby Price of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing after second place in the motorcycle category at Dakar 2023. Photo: EPA/Andrew Eaton Credit: Andrew Eaton/EPA
The Australian and two-time champion did everything right throughout the rally. He played a well-calculated, calm and deliberate campaign that kept him on top of every stage and inherited the lead when it mattered most, with just two days remaining.
It’s been almost a month since Lionel Messi and Argentina propelled themselves to FIFA World Cup glory against France in nearby Qatar. And now, the South American nation is claiming another major sporting trophy in Dakar, thanks to Kevin Benavides.
Kevin Benavides celebrates his second Dakar victory. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) Source: AFP / FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
The Argentine, who is Price’s KTM team-mate, made the most of staying in the competition for two weeks alongside the Australian. But the defining moment came in the penultimate stage on Saturday, when he stopped with 55km to go to tend to fellow KTM factory rider Matthias Walkner, who had injured his back. Benavides spent up to 23 minutes with Walkner and stayed with the medical team until the Austrian was airlifted to the hospital.
It paid off big – he is now a two-time winner of this prestigious rally as his 2023 effort will be talked about for years to come.
Qatari rider Nasser al-Attiyah helps Kevin Benavides wear the traditional “bisht” robe as the pair celebrate their success at the 2023 Dakar (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) Source: AFP / FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
3. Al-Attiyah makes five
The Qatari driver for the Toyota Gazoo fended off every challenge he faced throughout the entire fortnight of competition and barely broke a sweat in the process.
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel celebrate after winning the car component of the Dakar 2023. Photo: EPA/Andrew Eaton Credit: Andrew Eaton/EPA
From Audi’s three-pronged electric hybrid attack to Sebastian Loeb’s multi-year bid to win his first Dakar, Al-Attiyah has weathered every storm on both sides and led all but the first two days to completely dominate the car component of this rally.
Lithuanian Rokas Baciuska started the last stage 3’24” behind Polish Eryk Goczal. Both drove Can-Am buggies and both traded blows for most of this rally. But similar to what happened to Toby Price, Baciuska’s hopes of an outright victory in T4 slipped through his fingers.
Rokas Baciuska was gracious in defeat, after handling problems in the final stage cost him outright victory in the T4 class. Photo: ASO/F. Le Floc’h/DPPI
In the middle of the 136 km stage, the front gimbal on the steering wheel failed and the Lithuanian had to spend 25 minutes to fix the problem and reach the finish line of the stage safely. This effectively ended his chance of victory and gave an outright victory to Goczal, who was overcome with emotion at the end of the stage.
Eryk Goczal hugs his father Marek, after finding out that he won the T4 class outright. The 18-year-old Polish driver became the youngest competitor in the history of the race to win an outright class in any discipline. Photo: ASO/F. Le Floc’h/DPPI
He created Dakar history at the start of the rally, becoming the youngest competitor to win a stage at the age of 18, and has now become the youngest competitor to win outright in the rally’s 45-year history.
As for Molly, we kept our fingers crossed that a top ten finish in T4 was still possible and headed into the final stage just 9’30” behind in 12th position. Unfortunately, her and Andrew Short’s challenge was derailed by a puncture during the final stage, extinguishing those chances. But they reached the end of the stage in 21st place and would finish 12th in the T4 class.
Molly Taylor and Andrew Short overcame a hole in the final stage to finish 12th in T4, eclipsing Molly’s previous best of 14th last year. Photo: Florent Gooden/DPPI/LiveMedia Credit: IPA/Sippa USA
Molly leaves the event not only bettering her previous best placing of 14th place from last year, but also with a big smile on her face. It will surely come back better and stronger in 2024.
Peter and Christopher Schey finished 28th in the Classic Dakar. Photo: ASO/Photop
Meanwhile in the Classic Dakar, Schey’s goal of making it to the end was successfully met, finishing 28th overall. Our sincere congratulations to Peter and Chris for marking their achievement.
Watch highlights of the final stage tonight from 5pm AEDT on SBS and anytime on SBS On Demand, along with all the previous stages of Dakar 2023.