2023 Dakar Rally Is Over, And We Have A New Champion

It was the closest Dakar Rally that many of us can remember, coming down to a matter of seconds in the final stage. KTM factory rider Kevin Benavides took the victory. It was his second; he also won 2021’s race on a Honda. He was less than a minute ahead of teammate Toby Price—and Price said that Benavides might not have passed him on the last day, were it not for the race organizers futzing around with the waypoint system.

What, the ASO is being blamed for messing things up, again? Nothing new there, and the Parisian arrogance with which the organizers dismiss most complaints has to be pretty galling. But if you sign up for the Dakar Rally, you should know you’re also signing to race under the ASO’s rules and management, and if that means you get a tank of contaminated gasoline (which happened to some front-runners this year, again)—well, you’ve got to suck it up and carry on. You don’t have to like it, you just have to put up with it, if you want to challenge the world’s biggest motor race.

Same goes for the ASO’s announcement that the Dakar Rally will return to Saudi Arabia annually until 2030. Some people don’t like the Saudi Arabian regime’s laws, other people think the idea of running this rally raid inside a single country is a lame departure from the race’s history. Doesn’t matter—you want to race the Dakar, you’ve got to put up with it.

Anyway. Back to the racing! After Australian Price got second, third went to Skyler Howes (Husqvarna factory team). It’s a massive achievement for the mustachioed American rider, as he literally sold everything he owned to pay for his privateer ride only a couple of years back. Now he is a constant top-five threat at the rally, and is probably going to challenge for the championship for the next few years.

Aussie rider Daniel Sanders, aka Mini Mullet, aka Chucky, (seen above) and American rider Mason Klein both proved they have the skill to ride at the front for years to come. Credit: Julien Delfosse/DPPI/GasGas

Although, the competition is harder than ever. Along with savvy veterans like Pablo Quintanilla and Adrien Van Beveren, who earned fourth and fifth for Honda, there are up-and-coming kids like Daniel Sanders (GasGas) and Mason Klein (Bas World privateer team). Every year it seems there’s a newcomer who has blistering speed; as more of these riders figure out the navigation and pacing necessary to win, the top-10 will be very crowded in years to come.

What about Gareth Jones, the Welsh ex-pat who rode under a Canadian flag this year? Mister Jones was 73rd overall, spending a lot of time riding with IOMTT racer James Hillier, who fancied a stab at the Dakar this year. Well-done on both of them, but especially Jones, as it’s been some time since a Canadian raced and finished Dakar.

Finally, props to the Kove factory team. After a couple of lean years, it seems the secondary factory teams (Sherco, Hero, etc.) are getting to the point where they can challenge Dakar’s top squads again, but Kove went into Dakar with low expectations from most onlookers. Using made-in-China 450s, the three-man team explicitly went into the race only focused on completion, not competition—but as the race went on and the bikes held up, it turned out that the riders were competitive as well, with Sunier Sunier ending in 46th overall. If Kove comes back to the race next year, they’ll have a lot of valuable experience to build on, and who knows? Maybe they’ll turn out to be a threat in years to come.

2023 Dakar Rally final results

Pos. Exp. Drive-Team Team Time Variation Penality
1 47 RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 44h 27′ 20” 00h 03′ 00”
2 8 RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 44h 28′ 03” + 00h 00′ 43” 00h 01′ 00”
3 10 HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING 44h 32′ 24” + 00h 05′ 04” 00h 01′ 00”
4 7 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 44h 46′ 22” + 00h 19′ 02” 00h 02′ 00”
5 42 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 44h 47′ 50” + 00h 20′ 30”
6 77 HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING 44h 50′ 02” + 00h 22′ 42” 00h 01′ 00”
7 18 RED BULL GASGAS FACTORY RACING 44h 53′ 17” + 00h 25′ 57” 00h 07′ 00”
8 11 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 45h 18′ 41” + 00h 51′ 21”
9 15 SHERCO FACTORY 45h 45′ 13” + 01h 17′ 53” 00h 15′ 00”
10 33 HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY 46h 05′ 24” + 01h 38′ 04” 00h 01′ 00”
11 12 ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP 46h 09′ 44” + 01h 42′ 24”
12 142 SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM 46h 18′ 02” + 01h 50′ 42”
13 68 BAS WORLD KTM RACING TEAM 46h 22′ 06” + 01h 54′ 46” 00h 15′ 00”
14 17 TEAM DUMONTIER RACING 46h 31′ 44” + 02h 04′ 24” 00h 16′ 00”
15 46 BAS WORLD KTM RACING TEAM 47h 03′ 58” + 02h 36′ 38”
16 111 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 47h 48′ 27” + 03h 21′ 07” 00h 15′ 00”
17 76 NOMADE RACING 48h 04′ 31” + 03h 37′ 11”
18 114 RS COMCEPT 48h 37′ 05” + 04h 09′ 45”
19 83 DRAG’ON RALLY TEAM 48h 38′ 16” + 04h 10′ 56” 00h 01′ 00”
20 14 HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY 48h 42′ 33” + 04h 15′ 13” 00h 05′ 00”
21 31 NOMADE RACING 48h 45′ 41” + 04h 18′ 21” 00h 06′ 00”
22 96 DUUST RALLY TEAM 48h 49′ 16” + 04h 21′ 56” 00h 02′ 00”
23 48 TEAM LS2 SHAD 48h 56′ 31” + 04h 29′ 11” 00h 06′ 00”
24 53 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 49h 47′ 49” + 05h 20′ 29” 00h 21′ 00”
25 37 BAS WORLD KTM RACING TEAM 50h 44′ 23” + 06h 17′ 03”
26 16 HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY 51h 26′ 33” + 06h 59′ 13” 00h 15′ 00”
27 34 AUTONET MOTORCYCLE TEAM 52h 20′ 55” + 07h 53′ 35”
28 40 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 52h 24′ 42” + 07h 57′ 22” 00h 15′ 00”
29 39 TEAM ESPRIT KTM 52h 25′ 35” + 07h 58′ 15”
30 99 PONT GRUP YAMAHA 52h 45′ 43” + 08h 18′ 23” 00h 01′ 00”
31 24 STROJRENT RACING 53h 03′ 18” + 08h 35′ 58”
32 36 TEAM DUMONTIER RACING 53h 25′ 20” + 08h 58′ 00”
33 86 TEAM ALL TRACKS 53h 41′ 58” + 09h 14′ 38”
34 43 CREDIT AGRICOLA – MARIO PATRAO MOTOSPORT 53h 55′ 24” + 09h 28′ 04” 00h 04′ 00”
35 25 MX RIDE DUBAI 54h 21′ 38” + 09h 54′ 18” 00h 15′ 00”
36 45 SP MOTO BOHEMIA RACING TEAM 55h 44′ 56” + 11h 17′ 36” 00h 09′ 00”
37 35 RIEJU TEAM 55h 47′ 24” + 11h 20′ 04”
38 95 PEDREGA TEAM 56h 24′ 24” + 11h 57′ 04” 00h 01′ 00”
39 151 YAMAHA RACING – SMX – DRAG’ON 56h 44′ 30” + 12h 17′ 10” 00h 15′ 00”
40 93 JOYRIDE RACE SERVICE 57h 01′ 57” + 12h 34′ 37” 00h 03′ 00”
41 120 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 57h 15′ 40” + 12h 48′ 20” 00h 37′ 00”
42 129 HAPPYNESS RACING IGOA MOTO 57h 18′ 29” + 12h 51′ 09” 00h 17′ 00”
43 137 NOMADE RACING 57h 22′ 06” + 12h 54′ 46” 00h 13′ 00”
44 106 TEAM RS CONCEPT 57h 22′ 43” + 12h 55′ 23”
45 154 DRAGON 57h 27′ 41” + 13h 00′ 21”
46 89 KOVE RALLY TEAM 57h 41′ 30” + 13h 14′ 10” 00h 20′ 00”
47 87 TECNOSPORT 57h 58′ 06” + 13h 30′ 46” 00h 28′ 00”
48 163 DEL AMO MOTORSPORTS BY MOTUL 58h 37′ 25” + 14h 10′ 05” 00h 30′ 00”
49 44 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 58h 42′ 25” + 14h 15′ 05”
50 50 MARCIC 58h 46′ 18” + 14h 18′ 58” 00h 32′ 00”
51 57 STAVROS 59h 14′ 03” + 14h 46′ 43” 00h 21′ 00”
52 88 RS COMCEPT 59h 18′ 26” + 14h 51′ 06” 00h 34′ 00”
53 153 VARGA MOTORSPORT TEAM 59h 35′ 52” + 15h 08′ 32” 00h 48′ 00”
54 41 BAS WORLD KTM RACING TEAM 59h 43′ 36” + 15h 16′ 16” 00h 31′ 00”
55 55 WU PU DA HAI DAO RALLY TEAM 59h 53′ 42” + 15h 26′ 22” 00h 01′ 00”
56 71 MX RIDE DUBAI 60h 38′ 20” + 16h 11′ 00” 00h 47′ 00”
57 166 ENRICO RACING TEAM 61h 41′ 41” + 17h 14′ 21” 00h 41′ 00”
58 60 BAS WORLD KTM RACING TEAM 61h 43′ 56” + 17h 16′ 36” 00h 01′ 00”
59 63 DETYENS RACING 61h 45′ 17” + 17h 17′ 57” 00h 02′ 00”
60 74 COMAS MOTO VTA 62h 32′ 18” + 18h 04′ 58” 01h 33′ 00”
61 100 STUART GREGORY 63h 15′ 41” + 18h 48′ 21” 00h 37′ 00”
62 110 NOMADE RACING TEAM 63h 28′ 57” + 19h 01′ 37”
63 128 RAZY CLEMENT 63h 31′ 56” + 19h 04′ 36” 00h 45′ 00”
64 49 TEAM LUCKY EXPLORER 64h 18′ 18” + 19h 50′ 58”
65 131 KTM NAMURA BIKES 64h 55′ 06” + 20h 27′ 46” 00h 01′ 00”
66 164 VISIT SANT ANTONI – IBIZA 65h 22′ 32” + 20h 55′ 12” 00h 15′ 00”
67 85 KOVE RALLY TEAM 65h 36′ 52” + 21h 09′ 32” 00h 01′ 00”
68 61 WU PU DA HAI DAO RALLY TEAM 65h 59′ 11” + 21h 31′ 51”
69 132 PEDREGA TEAM 66h 46′ 00” + 22h 18′ 40” 00h 18′ 00”
70 117 RS MOTO RACING 66h 46′ 48” + 22h 19′ 28”
71 90 ASP ROPE ACCESS INTERNATIONAL 67h 37′ 08” + 23h 09′ 48”
72 67 FANTIC RALLY TEAM 68h 07′ 32” + 23h 40′ 12” 00h 18′ 00”
73 122 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 69h 01′ 44” + 24h 34′ 24” 00h 39′ 00”
74 121 HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING 69h 24′ 50” + 24h 57′ 30” 02h 10′ 00”
75 118 TEAM DUMONTIER RACING 69h 53′ 48” + 25h 26′ 28” 01h 18′ 00”
76 80 RICH ENERGY OMG RACING LTD 70h 05′ 40” + 25h 38′ 20” 06h 16′ 00”
77 81 KOVE RALLY TEAM 72h 43′ 22” + 28h 16′ 02” 00h 02′ 00”
78 125 SOLARYS RACING 74h 42′ 28” + 30h 15′ 08” 00h 33′ 00”
79 162 STORY RACING S.R.O. 76h 00′ 23” + 31h 33′ 03” 10h 31′ 00”
80 109 RS MOTO RACING TEAM 76h 11′ 04” + 31h 43′ 44” 00h 38′ 00”
81 29 RIEJU-XRAIDSEXPERIENCE 78h 08′ 50” + 33h 41′ 30” 21h 48′ 00”
82 51 MELILLA SPORT CAPITAL 78h 19′ 50” + 33h 52′ 30” 00h 06′ 00”
83 116 DIPUTACION DE CUENCA 81h 10′ 46” + 36h 43′ 26”
84 158 VERZA RALLY TEAM 81h 35′ 00” + 37h 07′ 40”
85 105 AMERICAN RALLY ORIGINALS 85h 45′ 15” + 41h 17′ 55” 00h 31′ 00”
86 159 TAGUATUR RACING TEAM 86h 47′ 55” + 42h 20′ 35” 18h 37′ 00”
87 169 DRAG’ON 94h 47′ 16” + 50h 19′ 56” 10h 36′ 00”
88 58 WU PU DA HAI DAO RALLY TEAM 106h 23′ 33” + 61h 56′ 13” 39h 15′ 00”
89 130 RS MOTO RACING 121h 26′ 54” + 76h 59′ 34” 38h 25′ 00”
90 133 PEDREGA TEAM 200h 01′ 13” + 155h 33′ 53” 120h 31′ 00”

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