The 2023 Dakar Rally kicked off in fine form on December 31, 2022. After the first two stages, how are the riders faring so far? As ever, it’s a mixed bag, with good news for riders including Americans Ricky Brabec and Mason Klein, and bad news for reigning Dakar champ Sam Sunderland.  

What happened to Sunderland? The seasoned Dakar competitor had a bad off on Stage 1, just 52 kilometers into the competition. Unfortunately, the crash resulted in a broken shoulder blade and an airlift to the hospital. We wish him a speedy and good recovery, as that’s not a result that anyone wants. 

One thing’s for certain so far in 2023—: Time penalties definitely have to be taken into consideration. When official timing and scoring posted its results, Ricky Brabec was named the winner of Stage 1, even though both Daniel Sanders and Pablo Quintanilla had finished ahead of Brabec. However, both of them were hit with two-minute speeding penalties, which changed matters considerably. That’s how Brabec took the top step of the podium, while Sanders came in fifth and Quintanilla came in seventh.  

The top 10 riders for the 602.56 kilometers that comprised 2023 Dakar Rally Stage One were: 

Rider Team Time
Ricky Brabec (USA)  Monster Energy Honda Team  4 hours, 14 minutes, 10 seconds 
Kevin Benavides (ARG) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 4 hours, 14 minutes, 29 seconds
Toby Price (AUS)  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 4 hours, 14 minutes, 49 seconds
Joan Barreda Bort (ESP)  Monster Energy JB Team  4 hours, 14 minutes, 55 seconds 
Daniel Sanders (AUS) Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing  4 hours, 14 minutes, 55 seconds 
Mason Klein (USA)  BAS World KTM Racing Team  4 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds 
Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)  Monster Energy Honda Team 4 hours, 16 minutes, 17 seconds 
Adrien Van Beveren (Fra)  Monster Energy Honda Team 4 hours, 18 minutes, 27 seconds
Skyler Howes (USA)  Husqvarna Factory Racing  4 hours, 19 minutes, 22 seconds
Matthias Walkner (AUT)  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing  4 hours, 19 minutes, 36 seconds 

Doing well in a single rally stage is great and encouraging news for anyone racing, of course—but taking a look at the top 10 riders over the 589.07 kilometers of Stage Two immediately shows you how quickly things can change. Remember Mason Klein, who was named the 2022 Dakar Rally’s fastest rookie of the event? He just won Stage Two at the 2023 Dakar outright—and even the fact that he also got a two-minute speeding penalty wasn’t enough to knock him off the top step. 

Rider Team Time
Mason Klein (USA) BAS World KTM Racing Team 5 hours, 23 minutes, 4 seconds
Sebastian Buehler (DEU)  Hero Motosports Team Rally  5 hours, 24 minutes, 13 seconds
Skyler Howes (USA)  Husqvarna Factory Racing  5 hours, 24 minutes, 17 seconds 
Ross Branch (BWA) Hero Motosports Team Rally 5 hours, 25 minutes, 2 seconds 
Toby Price (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 5 hours, 25 minutes, 20 seconds 
Joan Barreda Bort (ESP)  Monster Energy JB Team 5 hours, 25 minutes, 36 seconds 
Lorenzo Santolino (ESP)  Sherco Factory  5 hours, 26 minutes, 14 seconds
Kevin Benavides (ARG) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing  5 hours, 26 minutes, 24 seconds 
Daniel Sanders (AUS)  Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing  5 hours, 26 minutes, 28 seconds 
Matthias Walkner (AUT)  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing  5 hours, 27 minutes, 10 seconds 

It’s early days at the 2023 Dakar Rally, and as you can see just from the results of the first two stages, pretty much anything can happen. It’s a true test of every rider’s mettle, regardless of how experienced they may be. The next two weeks of this incredible test of the riders and their machines will be fascinating to watch play out.

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