Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price and Kevin Benavides have delivered strong performances on day four of the 2023 Dakar Rally. Price completed the stage in fourth place, with Benavides less than one minute behind his teammate in seventh. Matthias Walkner, who injured his wrist in a crash on stage two, gritted his teeth once again to finish the stage in 12th.
Leaving and returning to Ha’il, the 574-kilometer stage four of the rally included a 425-kilometer timed special that saw riders navigate their way through 100 kilometers of dunes from the very start. A maze of sandy tracks followed, leading them back to the bivouac, where accurate navigation was key to securing a solid result.
Putting in another consistent ride on stage four, Toby Price claimed fourth on the day to move himself up the provisional event standings to fifth, less than 10 minutes from the lead after close to 19 hours of racing. The Aussie star will enjoy a strong start position for Thursday’s stage five, where he will aim to push on the soft dunes to make up time on his rivals.
Toby Price: “All in all I had a good day, just keeping it on two wheels and completing each day. The section of dunes at the beginning of the stage today was quite tough to ride through, after all the rain the sand sucks you in a lot more and that makes things even more physical and makes the fuel consumption go up a little, too. At this point in the race my body is feeling good, the bike is feeling really good, so yeah, I’m happy.”
Also riding with a strong, consistent pace, Kevin Benavides brought his KTM 450 RALLY home in seventh today. But with times extremely close at the top of the leaderboard, the 2021 Dakar champion only trailed the provisional stage winner by just over three minutes. In doing so, Kevin successfully defended his current third-place position in the rally standings and will have six riders starting ahead of him tomorrow to chase down.
Kevin Benavides: “Today was another long stage. I felt really good out there, and my feeling with the bike is excellent at the moment, it seems to perform well in all conditions. It was so physical today though with a lot of camel grass and dunes. I tried to do my best and didn’t make any big mistakes. Towards the end I was riding with Joan Barreda, and we made up some time by pushing each other over the final section of the stage. I’m really happy with my riding, happy with where I am in the standings, I just need to stay focused and keep up this pace.”
Battling his way through the pain of the injured wrist he damaged on Monday’s stage two, Matthias Walkner completed today’s special in 12th place, 12 and a half minutes down on the leader. Despite the discomfort, the former Dakar winner will try to continue with the event. Matthias lies in a highly commendable 10th overall.
Matthias Walkner: “It’s been another really hard stage today. I have a lot of pain in my wrist and I’m at my absolute limit right now. As soon as I set off this morning, I knew it would be a tough day, but I fought my way through it. I’ll keep on trying to do my best and see how I feel each day.”
Thursday’s stage five will see riders face another looped route leaving and returning to Ha’il. Totaling 645 kilometers, the special will challenge riders with 373 kilometers raced mostly over sandy tracks littered with camel grass, and soft rolling dunes.
Provisional Results – 2023 Dakar Rally, Stage 4
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 4:28:18
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 4:28:34 +0:16
3. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 4:29:23 +1:05
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:30:42 +2:24
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 4:30:55 +2:37
7. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 4:31:37 +3:19
11. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 4:40:26 +12:08
12. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 4:40:48 +12:30
Provisional Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally (after 4 of 14 stages)
1. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 18:40:03
2. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 18:43:36 +3:33
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 18:44:08 +4:05
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 18:44:33 +4:30
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 18:47:20 +7:17
6. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 18:50:08 +10:05
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 19:08:28 +28:25