Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has completed the extremely tough and long second stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally as the fifth fastest rider. Joining Price inside the top 10, Kevin Benavides placed eighth despite incurring a one-minute speeding penalty, while Matthias Walkner posted the 10th quickest time, just four minutes down on the stage winner after well over five hours of racing.
Setting off from the bivouac at Sea Camp, riders faced a cold, wet, 159-kilometer liaison to reach the timed special of today’s stage. The 430 kilometers raced against the clock were made up primarily of rocky tracks through picturesque canyons before opening out into a short section of dunes in the latter half of the route. The nature of the terrain made the already long stage even more challenging due to the focus and physical endurance required to deliver a strong result.
As the fifth rider to enter the stage, Toby Price made a steady start to the timed special, taking his time to adjust to the intense terrain seen over the first few hundred kilometers. As the stage continued, Price’s stamina and consistency paid off, with the Aussie moving up as high as second place on time after 300 kilometers. Easing off slightly to ensure a safe finish, the two-time Dakar champion placed fifth at the line, just over two minutes down on the leader. The result moves Toby up to second in the provisional overall standings.
Toby Price: “That was a tough stage today. The organizers led us through a load of river beds and rocks pretty much the whole way. It’s definitely not easy, and to make it safely to the finish you really have to take things a little steadier and focus on staying smooth. The projected time was around four hours, but it’s taken us close to five and a half to get to the finish. Other than that, I’m happy with how I rode, I’m here in one piece and ready to fight again tomorrow.”
Kevin Benavides had the unenviable task of starting second into the stage. Knowing that any navigational mistakes could prove extra costly, the Argentinian rider kept his composure and delivered a well-calculated ride to eighth place, losing the minimum of time to the chasing pack. Kevin now lies fourth overall, a mere two and a half minutes behind the leader.
Kevin Benavides: “This day was really hard. Possibly the hardest stage I’ve ridden in the last three years of Dakar. It was 430 kilometers, but almost six hours of riding through some very tough, rocky tracks. I set off second today and caught Ricky (Brabec) by around kilometer 120, after that we swapped positions at the front up to the final 100 kilometers or so when we were caught by another rider. It’s been exhausting, but I’m happy with my performance and the result after opening a lot of the way, so not a bad stage overall.”
Also using his skill and experience to guide his progress through the grueling stage, Matthias Walkner set off as the 10th rider and completed the day in 10th. However, the Austrian star stayed within six minutes of the stage winner, finally steering his KTM 450 RALLY home just four minutes from the win. Happy with his performance, Walkner will now look to push on Tuesday’s even longer stage three.
Matthias Walkner: “That was a super-long day today – riding all day through loose stones. It was so intense because you had to focus on the terrain the whole time, so that was tiring mentally as well and being physically stressful on your body and the bike. I’ll get some good rest now as we have an even longer day to race tomorrow.”
The 2023 Dakar Rally continues tomorrow with an even longer day of racing. Totaling 669 kilometers, stage two from AlUla to Ha’il will include a demanding timed special of 447 kilometers.
Provisional Results – 2023 Dakar Rally, Stage 2
1. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 5:23:04
2. Sebastian Buhler (DEU), Hero, 5:24:13 +1:09
3. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 5:24:17 +1:13
4. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 5:25:02 +1:58
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 5:25:20 +2:16
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 5:26:24 +3:20
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 5:27:10 +4:06
Provisional Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally (after 2 of 14 stages)
1. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 9:38:28
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 9:40:09 +1:41
3. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 9:40:31 +2:03
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 9:40:53 +2:25
5. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 9:41:23 +2:55
9. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 9:46:46 +8:18