Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides and Toby Price have both made a strong start to their 2024 Dakar Rally campaigns by successfully completing the demanding stage one of the event. Benavides placed eighth on the special with teammate Price bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in 16th.

Challenging riders right from the start of the event, organizers delivered a short but technical prologue on Friday to decide the start order for Saturday’s stage one. Price and Benavides completed the 27-kilometer course in eighth and ninth respectively, securing them advantageous start positions for the opening stage.

Totaling 544 kilometers, with a timed special of 414 kilometers, the first full day of racing at the 2024 Dakar proved to be hugely demanding for all riders as they traveled from AlUla to Al Henakiyah. Rocky tracks through canyons and past volcanoes, combined with tough navigation, tested the riders’ focus and physical endurance to their fullest.

Setting off 22nd into the stage after his ninth-place result on the prologue, Benavides maintained his position safely inside the top 10 for the full length of the special. Choosing not to push too hard on the first day of competition, Kevin used his experience to deliver a safe but solid ride to eighth place. With another long, 463-kilometer special scheduled for Sunday, the reigning Dakar champion will enjoy an advantageous start position into the stage.

Kevin Benavides: “Today was a really, really tough stage, especially for day one of the race. We had a lot of different terrains to cover including sandy areas, rivers, and sandstone. After the refueling, there was a lot of black stone from the volcanoes too. I tried to do a good job of navigating through safely and not making any mistakes. I think my pace was strong and I felt good on the bike. My goal for today was to get settled in and put in a good, solid stage. We have a long, long way to go.”

Taking part in his 10th Dakar Rally, Toby Price knows that the race is never won on the first day. A solid start to the special saw the Aussie post times inside the top 10 through to the 225-kilometer mark. A small technical issue at 70 kilometers before the refueling stop unfortunately cost the 36-year-old around seven minutes to his rivals, dropping Price down the timesheets. With the problem rectified, Toby refocused and was able to claw back some time over the latter half of the special, ultimately completing the day in 16th place.

Toby Price: “They promised rocks today and it was definitely rocky – it was all quite tricky to get through while staying focused on the roadbook. I did have a small issue before the refueling that cost me some minutes, but thankfully I was able to fix that and carry on afterwards. I’ve lost a little bit of time on the early leaders, but I’m here safe at the finish and we have a lot of kilometers to race ahead of us. Today’s stage has already shown that the Dakar is tough and can throw up some surprises, so my plan, as always, is to stay consistent and do my best day by day.”

Provisional Results – 2024 Dakar Rally, Stage 1

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 4:56:01
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 5:06:55 +10:54
3. Mason Klein (USA), KOVE, 5:07:20 +11:19
4. Bradley Cox (ZAF), KTM, 5:08:55 +12:54
5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 5:9:44 +13:43
Other KTM
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 5:11:38 +15:37
16. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 5:19:21 +23:20

Provisional Standings – 2024 Dakar Rally (after 1 of 12 stages)

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 5:13:55
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 5:25:49 +11:54
3. Mason Klein (USA), KOVE, 5:25:53 +11:58
4. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 5:28:43 +14:48
5. Bradley Cox (ZAF), KTM, 5:28:48 +14:53
Other KTM
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 5:30:09 +16:14
16. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 5:37:47 +23:52