As Stage 12 of the 2023 Dakar Rally began, it asked a simple but important question of the competitors: Would their marathon stage strategies hold up? Yesterday’s Stage 11 was part one of a marathon stage—meaning, after the riders completed stage 11, mechanics would not be touching the bikes to get them prepared for stage 12. Strategy in planning each team’s marathon efforts is key. 

Stage 12 saw Toby Price take an early lead by the first timing checkpoint at kilometer 42. Since Luciano Benavides won Stage 11, he was the first to start—but he was soon passed up by both Price and fellow Aussie, Daniel Sanders.  

Here’s where you start to see the differences between seasoned Dakar competitors and rookies. Amazingly, by the 42-kilometer checkpoint, Adrien Van Beveren managed to get the provisional fifth-best time. As he was the 17th rider to start, though, there would be more coming after him—but the beginning of the stage seemed to point toward a positive outcome for the experienced rider.  

Meanwhile, RallyGP-class rookie Mason Klein finished stage 11 in 27th place, almost a full 20 minutes behind stage winner Luciano Benavides. Contrast AVB’s performance with Klein’s at the 42-kilometer mark, and the latter was already a full five minutes off of provisional stage leader Toby Price’s pace. Still, you live and you learn, and those of us who’ve never done a Dakar will probably never fully understand exactly how true that is in this circumstance. 

By the 87-kilometer checkpoint, Toby Price was still in the lead on the time sheet, followed closely by his teammate, Kevin Benavides. However, as ever, things change—and by the 128-kilometer checkpoint, Nacho Cornejo was sitting on top of the time chart, followed in order by Kevin Benavides and Toby Price.  

At 156 kilometers, after all the timing bonuses were applied for the stage openers, Toby Price came out in front with almost an entire minute lead (59 seconds, if you must know) over Skyler Howes, who sat in second place, and teammate Kevin Benavides in third. All three of the top riders at this point were within two minutes of each other, with the trailing riders somewhat further back. In the end, though, it was Nacho Cornejo who came through to take the stage win, which was his first of the 2023 Dakar Rally. 

Here are the top 10 finishers and their times on stage 12 of the 2023 Dakar Rally: 

Rider Team Time
Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHL)  Monster Energy Honda Team 1 hour, 57 minutes, 27 seconds 
Daniel Sanders (AUS)  Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing 1 hour, 58 minutes, 16 seconds 
Toby Price (AUS)  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1 hour, 59 minutes, 25 seconds 
Matthias Walkner (AUT)  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing  1 hour, 59 minutes, 32 seconds
Kevin Benavides (ARG)  Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1 hour, 59 minutes, 49 seconds
Skyler Howes (USA)  Husqvarna Factory Racing 2 hours, 0 minutes, 21 seconds 
Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) Monster Energy Honda Team  2 hours, 0 minutes, 33 seconds
Sebastian Bühler (DEU) Hero MotoSports Team Rally 2 hours, 0 minutes, 35 seconds 
Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) Monster Energy Honda Team  2 hours, 0 minutes, 43 seconds 
Ross Branch (BWA) Hero MotoSports Team Rally 2 hours, 0 minutes, 48 seconds 

The final results of Stage 12 also saw Toby Price take the overall lead in the bike category, with a gap of just 28 seconds to now-second-place-sitter Skyler Howes. Kevin Benavides lies third, with a time that’s two minutes and 40 seconds down on Price’s. Just two stages remain in the 2023 Dakar Rally, so how will it all play out? 

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