Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides has placed fourth on today’s stage 10 of the 2023 Dakar Rally and moves into the provisional lead of the overall standings. Toby Price completed the day in 19th but still lies third overall, just two minutes back, while Matthias Walkner enjoyed a solid day on his KTM 450 RALLY, placing fifth.
Riders left the bivouac at 3:30am this morning to cover the 467-kilometer liaison that led them to the start of today’s timed special. Although short at 114 kilometers, the route raced against the clock was predominantly made up of rolling dunes, making navigation difficult and proving a real test of endurance for all competitors.
As the seventh rider into the special following his strong performance on stage nine, Kevin Benavides was in contention for the stage win right away. Carrying good speed over the sandy terrain, the 2021 Dakar winner was just 10 seconds down on the leader by kilometer 84. Losing a little time in the closing stages, Benavides dropped to fourth place as he crossed the line, one minute from the win. However, with times tight across the top 10, Kevin’s solid ride moved him into the lead of the rally, where he enjoys a one-and-a-half-minute advantage.
Kevin Benavides: “Today was really short, but really tough physically as it was raced all in the dunes. I started off in seventh position and just tried to keep a nice flow through all the dunes and it felt really good. I did have one crash where I went over the handlebars, but it seems it might have had a positive effect because I only lost about one minute and that means I set of fourth into tomorrow’s stage 11.”
After losing time in the desert yesterday following a navigational error, Matthias Walkner bounced back in style on stage 10. Posting the fifth fastest time on the demanding special, Walkner moves back inside the top 10 overall and will be aiming to elevate himself even higher over the remaining four days of racing.
Matthias Walkner: “I had a good day today. I really like this sort of terrain and was able to make up good time across the dunes. I wasn’t pushing too hard at first because I didn’t want to lose time like I did yesterday, but then towards the end I was able to increase my pace toward the finish. I’m feeling a lot stronger now, and coming in fifth today puts me in a good place for tomorrow’s marathon stage.”
Toby Price was the second rider to enter today’s special, and again, using his skill and experience to good effect, chose to navigate carefully through the dunes to minimize any costly errors. With the leaders’ times extremely close over the short special, Toby ultimately completed the day in 19th, but only eight minutes down on the leader. As such, the Aussie remains very much in contention near the top of the overall standings where he now lies third.
Toby Price: “Today was a long day – we were up at 2:30am, but then just a short special. I tried to pace myself a little today to make sure I didn’t make any big mistakes and to also get a good start for tomorrow’s longer stage. I dropped down a little in the standings, but didn’t lose too much time, and now hopefully I’m well-placed to attack tomorrow. So far so good.”
Thursday’s stage 11 marks the first half of the Empty Quarter marathon stage, where riders will spend the night in the desert and receive no outside help from their teams. Totaling 427 kilometers, the stage will include a dune-filled timed special of 274 kilometers.
Provisional Results – 2023 Dakar Rally, Stage 10
1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 1:44:00
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 1:44:21
3. Michael Docherty (ZAF), Husqvarna, 1:44:30
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 1:45:00
5. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 1:45:22
7. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 1:47:05 +3:05
19. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:52:16
Provisional Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally (after 10 of 14 stages)
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 35:16:06
2. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 35:47:35 +1:29
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 35:48:16 +2:10
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 35:55:58 +9:52
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 36:01:04 +14:58
6. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 36:01:44 +15:38
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 36:25:55 +39:49