Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides has topped the timesheets on the grueling third stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally. Putting in an impressive performance on his KTM 450 RALLY, the Argentinian moves up to sixth in the provisional overall standings. Meanwhile, after an action-packed day in the Saudi desert, Toby Price wrapped up the stage in ninth place. He now lies seventh overall.

Including a long timed special of 438 kilometers, stage three of the Dakar proved to be another huge test of skill and endurance for all competitors. Leaving the bivouac at Al Duwadimi, riders covered a total distance of 733 kilometers to Al Salamiya. Marking the first half of the event’s opening marathon stage, just two hours of assistance were permitted before competitors left their teams and completed a final liaison to a separate bivouac to spend the night.

Starting stage three from 19th, due to losing several minutes from a small mistake on the previous day’s special, Benavides knew he had to deliver his best over the course of day three to make up time on his rivals. Using his experience and speed, the reigning Dakar Rally Champion put in a superb ride over the mixed terrain, immediately slotting into second on the timesheets at the first checkpoint, and carried that momentum to the finish. Securing his first stage win of the 2024 Dakar so far, Kevin’s result elevates him to sixth in the provisional overall standings.

Kevin Benavides: “A much better day for me today. It was a long, long stage, but after making a couple of mistakes yesterday, I set off with the plan to focus more on my navigation. It definitely paid off – there were already a lot of tracks on the ground ahead of me, but I concentrated on my roadbook and was able to find a good, solid rhythm over the different types of terrain. I’m happy with my pace today and the result. We have a couple of hours now to work on the bikes and then we head off to the bivouac. I feel good and the bike is in good shape – I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Stage three proved to be an interesting one for Price. Despite showing good speed over the special, Toby’s day was far from straightforward. Stopping to assist two different riders didn’t slow the Aussie’s pace however, and the two-time Dakar champion was able to make up ground on his rivals. Initially completing the stage in 23rd, with the time lost reallocated to him, Price finished in a highly commendable ninth place and now lies seventh overall, just one position behind teammate Benavides.

Toby Price: “Yeah, it was quite an eventful stage for me today. I made a small mistake early on, which cost me some time. Then I saw Sam (Sunderland) at the side of the track, I stopped to make sure he was ok, but it turned out to be a mechanical issue. After that, I got my head down and tried to make some good progress. I was stuck in the dust of another rider for a fair few kilometers but managed to get past him in the sand and was able to make some good time there. Unfortunately, towards the end of the stage, we came across another rider who had crashed, so we stopped to help him, call the helicopter, and make sure nobody else was in danger. So, it’s been a bit of an up and down day, but we’re here in the bivouac now, bike is good and getting serviced, and I’m ready for more of the same tomorrow.”

Provisional Results – 2024 Dakar Rally, Stage 3

1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 4:39:28
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 4:40:39 +1:11
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 4:42:19 +2:51
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Honda, 4:42:25 +2:57
5. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 4:42:46 +3:18
Other KTM
9. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:46:04 +6:36

Provisional Standings – 2024 Dakar Rally (after 3 of 12 stages)

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 14:32:51
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 14:36:02 +3:11
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 14:37:59 +5:08
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Honda, 14:49:07 +16:16
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 14:53:07 +20:16
Other KTM
6. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 14:53:23 +20:32
7. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 14:55:48 +22:57