The 2023 Dakar Rally riders started Stage 10 in fine form, with Luciano Benavides taking the line first since he won Stage Nine yesterday. Although Stage 10 is short in kilometers, as anyone familiar with the sport can tell you, every one of those 114 kilometers of this stage counts. Shorter in no way equates to easier, except maybe for whoever’s drawing the route line on a map. Riding it is a very different story.
By the first checkpoint at kilometer 39, Adrien Van Beveren provisionally had the fastest time, with Kevin Benavides five seconds behind him. The third-fastest racer through the checkpoint, Franco Caimi, was a full 54 seconds behind Van Beveren’s time. By the time Mason Klein and Daniel Sanders (both of whom started outside the top 20) managed to post the seventh and tenth fastest times, respectively, at kilometer 29. Still, as more racers come through, timing can change—and yes, that is foreshadowing.
By kilometer 60, Van Beveren was still leading the pack, followed closely by Michael Docherty, Kevin Benavides, and Pablo Quintanilla. How close were they at this point? Official timing had them at less than a minute apart across all four racers.
The thing about staggered starts is that you’re racing against time—and setting the best time you can to the next checkpoint is really all that matters. Thus, the 2023 Dakar Rally Stage 10 winner ended up being Ross Branch, who started way back in 28th place. Although he wasn’t in line to scoop up any of the stage opener time bonuses that the rules are awarding in 2023, he was able to capitalize on the tracks of the racers ahead of him—and managed to sweep through with the fastest time of all at each checkpoint along the way. When all was said and done, he finished an incredible 21 seconds ahead of Adrien Van Beveren.
This marked Branch’s second 2023 Dakar stage victory, as well as Hero MotoSports’ third-ever Dakar stage victory in the history of the team. Branch is no longer in contention for the overall 2023 Dakar Rally title, due to earlier technical difficulties during the event. Still, it has to feel incredibly good to have won another stage.
We also got an update on Joan Barreda’s condition after his crash on Stage Nine. After a thorough examination at the hospital, it was determined that he’d fractured his second lumbar vertebra, and is officially out of the 2023 Dakar Rally.
Remember how Mason Klein lost his road book at some point during Stage Nine? His strategy after that happened was to try to stay close to the racer directly ahead of him, which was Adrien Van Beveren. Unfortunately, he was riding a little too close, and about 20 kilometers from the end, caused a crash between the two riders. Luckily, both riders were OK to continue and finish the stage.
Here are the Stage 10 top 10 rider standings from the 2023 Dakar Rally:
|Ross Branch (BWA)||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||1 hour, 44 minutes, 0 seconds|
|Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)||Monster Energy Honda Team||1 hour, 44 minutes, 21 seconds|
|Michael Docherty (ZAF)||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||1 hour, 44 minutes, 30 seconds|
|Kevin Benavides (ARG)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1 hour, 45 minutes|
|Matthias Walkner (AUT)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1 hour, 45 minutes, 22 seconds|
|Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)||Monster Energy Honda Team||1 hour, 46 minutes, 43 seconds|
|Mason Klein (USA)||BAS World KTM Racing Team||1 hour, 47 minutes, 5 seconds|
|Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHL)||Monster Energy Honda Team||1 hour, 48 minutes, 4 seconds|
|Franco Caimi (ARG)||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||1 hour, 48 minutes, 7 seconds|
|Daniel Nosiglia Jager (BOL)||Rieju – XRAIDSEXPERIENCE||1 hour, 48 minutes, 16 seconds|
After Stage 10, the overall 2023 Dakar Rally rankings have changed. Kevin Benavides now sits on top, with Skyler Howes falling to second place. Howes’ overall time is one minute and 29 seconds behind that of Benavides. Toby Price now sits in third, with a time that’s two minutes and 10 seconds down from Benavides. Four stages remain in the 2023 Dakar Rally, so we’ll just have to watch and see what happens next.