Dakar 2023: Benavides takes the crown with final stage victory| World Staff | World News
Red Bull KTM’s Kevin Benavides became the Dakar 2023 Champion on Sunday after clinching the final stage 55 seconds clear of his teammate.
Provisional leader heading into the final day, Toby Price brought the second KTM home just under a minute shy of his Argentine colleague to complete the team and manufacture lockout in both the stage 14 and overall standings, with the pair split by just 43 seconds after 15 days in the desert and almost 45 hours of action.
The win secures KTM’s 19th Dakar success with Benavides a double champion. The 34-year-old was forced to start from the back due to the reverse grid ahead of the 136km timed special but navigated the final stage to come out on top, consolidating a consistent run of form which saw him inside the top ten throughout the entire fortnight. Husqvarna’s Skyler Howes completed the top three.
“It’s been an amazing day!” Benavides confirmed on Sunday afternoon. “I just focused on every kilometre from the first to the last. I didn’t think about the position or the result I just gave my 100 per cent 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.”