The final two stages of the 2023 Dakar Rally were stages 13 and 14, and each brought their own challenges on the riders contesting them. After his stage 12 win, Nacho Cornejo was first to start stage 13—but as we’ve seen, opening a stage can be a blessing and a curse at the same time.
When you’re the first rider on the course, there are no tracks from previous riders to follow—so navigation is entirely up to you. Luckily, Cornejo is a seasoned and talented navigator However, it’s still more difficult to lead than to follow, which is at least partially why there are time bonuses for the leaders on each stage in 2023.
By the time the first riders got to the first time checkpoint at kilometer 43, Daniel Sanders was already nearly three minutes and 30 seconds ahead of Nacho Cornejo. Still, it’s all about the time you set—and further down the starting order, Rally2 star Michael Docherty managed to post the fastest time of all at that kilometer 43 checkpoint. He managed to hold that fastest time distinction at the second checkpoint as well, after 78 kilometers. Luciano Benavides trailed Docherty’s time by 48 seconds, while third-place Adrien Van Beveren was down on Docherty’s time by nearly two minutes at that point in the stage.
The 2023 Dakar Rally also saw two more riders bow out of this year’s competition before and during stage 13. Since his two crashes on Stage Nine, Mason Klein has been experiencing some pain. X-rays after Stage 12 didn’t show anything remarkable, but Klein decided to listen to his body and not start the Stage 13 special.
Matthias Walkner unfortunately suffered a crash at about 55 kilometers into stage 13. He remained conscious, but was suffering back pain. Walkner’s teammate, Kevin Benavides, stayed at Walkner’s side until the emergency team arrived to make sure his teammate was in good hands and on his way to safety. Organizers deducted the time he spent helping the downed rider from his overall time after the stage was complete.
By the end of Stage 13, Kevin Benavides took the win—but second-place stage finisher Michael Docherty was just 27 seconds off of Benavides’ time. Luciano Benavides took third place.
Here are the top 10 finishers on Stage 13 of the 2023 Dakar Rally:
|Kevin Benavides (ARG)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||2 hours, 21 minutes, 47 seconds|
|Michael Docherty (ZAF)||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||2 hours, 22 minutes, 14 seconds|
|Luciano Benavides (ARG)||Husqvarna Factory Racing||2 hours, 22 minutes, 44 seconds|
|Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)||Monster Energy Honda Team||2 hours, 23 minutes, 52 seconds|
|Toby Price (AUS)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||2 hours, 24 minutes, 15 seconds|
|Romain Dumontier (FRA)||Team Dumontier Racing||2 hours, 24 minutes, 19 seconds|
|Skyler Howes (USA)||Husqvarna Factory Racing||2 hours, 25 minutes, 18 seconds|
|Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)||Monster Energy Honda Team||2 hours, 25 minutes, 20 seconds|
|Toscha Schareina (ESP)||BAS World KTM Racing Team||2 hours, 25 minutes, 53 seconds|
|Ross Branch (BWA)||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||2 hours, 26 minutes, 38 seconds|
Finally, all the 2023 Dakar Rally competitors reached Stage 14—the final stage in this year’s competition, from Al-Hofuf to Dammam, with a special stage of 136 kilometers of fairly fast beach riding. Unlike previous stages, for this one, the riders start the stage in reverse order of the general standings. That means riders at the back of the standings open this stage, while current overall Dakar leader Toby Price is the last rider to start, and current second-place holder Kevin Benavides is second-to-last to start.
Even though this final stage was reportedly to be a bit faster and more straightforward than some of the previous stages, it isn’t without challenges. Serious mud at kilometer 29 held up a bunch of riders, who struggled to set good times while reckoning with the muck.
The two top-ranked riders as of the end of Stage 13, Price and Kevin Benavides, were tied on time at the first 33-kilometer checkpoint of the final stage of 2023. Should these two riders finish the stage with a tied time, the rider who ranked highest on the previous stage would be considered the winner, which in this case would be Kevin Benavides. There are still plenty of kilometers to go, though.
By kilometer 68, however, the elder Benavides brother had handily taken the stage lead by a full minute and 49 seconds over Toby Price. Although Price was able to make up some time by kilometer 102, it still wasn’t enough to get within a minute of Kevin Benavides’ time, either on the stage or overall.
When all was said and done, Kevin Benavides finished Stage 14 a full 55 seconds ahead of Toby Price, and three minutes and 15 seconds ahead of Pablo Quintanilla in third place. Here are the top 10 rider standings for Stage 14 of the 2023 Dakar Rally:
|Kevin Benavides (ARG)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1 hour, 15 minutes, 17 seconds|
|Toby Price (AUS)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1 hour, 16 minutes, 12 seconds|
|Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)||Monster Energy Honda Team||1 hour, 18 minutes, 32 seconds|
|Daniel Sanders (AUS)||Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing||1 hour, 18 minutes, 52 seconds|
|Skyler Howes (USA)||Husqvarna Factory Racing||1 hour, 19 minutes, 2 seconds|
|Sebastian Bühler (DEU)||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||1 hour, 19 minutes, 31 seconds|
|Luciano Benavides (ARG)||Husqvarna Factory Racing||1 hour, 19 minutes, 42 seconds|
|Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)||Monster Energy Honda Team||1 hour, 20 minutes, 8 seconds|
|Toscha Schareina (ESP)||BAS World KTM Racing Team||1 hour, 21 minutes, 4 seconds|
|Štefan Svitko (SVK)||Slovnaft Rally Team||1 hour, 21 minutes, 50 seconds|
Finally, here are the 2023 Dakar Rally overall top 10 rider standings at the end of this year’s event, where Kevin Benavides became a two-time Dakar winner:
|Kevin Benavides (ARG)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||44 hours, 27 minutes, 20 seconds|
|Toby Price (AUS)||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||44 hours, 28 minutes, 3 seconds|
|Skyler Howes (USA)||Husqvarna Factory Racing||44 hours, 32 minutes, 24 seconds|
|Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)||Monster Energy Honda Team||44 hours, 46 minutes, 22 seconds|
|Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)||Monster Energy Honda Team||44 hours, 47 minutes, 50 seconds|
|Luciano Benavides (ARG)||Husqvarna Factory Racing||44 hours, 50 minutes, 2 seconds|
|Daniel Sanders (AUS)||Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing||44 hours, 53 minutes, 17 seconds|
|Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHL)||Monster Energy Honda Team||45 hours, 18 minutes, 41 seconds|
|Lorenzo Santolino (ESP)||Sherco Factory||45 hours, 45 minutes, 13 seconds|
|Franco Caimi (ARG)||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||46 hours, 5 minutes, 24 seconds|
Congratulations to Kevin Benavides on his second Dakar Rally win, and congratulations to every single superhuman rider who tackled some of the toughest terrain in the world.