Dakar 2023: KTM & Toyota Win The 2W & 4W Categories

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team dominated the 2023 Dakar rally in the two-wheeler category. Riders Kevin Benavides & Toby Price dominated the Rally GP Class throughout the rally, with Toby Price leading for most of the duration. In the end Kevin Benavides prevailed in the final round to pass Toby and grab the overall rally win by just 43 seconds – the smallest win margin in the history of Dakar.

Kevin Benavides overtook Toby Price in the last stage to grab the rally win by 43 seconds, and making it a KTM 1-2 finish.

On the other hand, the four-wheeler category saw the biggest win margin in the last two decades. Nasser Al Attiyah’s win came as no surprise, but the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver blitzed the opposition, as his nearest rival – Sebastian Loeb – finished 1 hour & 20 minutes behind in second place. While Loeb couldn’t get close to the Qatari, he still will go in Dakar’s history books having won six consecutive stages – 7 overall of the 14 total stages. Nasser Al Attiyah’s win also meant this was his first successful title defence, and he has now won the rally 5 times. 

Nasser Al Attiyah recorded the largest win margin in the last 20 years, winning by over 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Audi on the other hand had a disappointing end to the rally, as drivers Carlos Sainz Sr. and Stéphane Peterhansel with with co-drivers Lucas Cruz & Edouard Boulanger crashed out of the race. Audi still managed to win 14 podium results in the 15 days including prologue stage, with Swedish pair Mattias Ekström & Emil Bergkvist finishing 14th overall in the rally for Audi. A stone invisible in the desert dust destroyed a suspension on Mattias Ekström’s car on the seventh stage, being the cause of a massive time loss for the Swede.

Despite having pace, Team Audi Sport couldn’t convert it to success, due to mechanical issues, punctures, and crashes.

Hero MotoSports was also present at the 2023 Dakar rally, and the only Indian team to have won a stage in Dakar also registered its best ever result in the rally. Having lost Joaquim Rodrigues early on as the rider suffered from a fractured femur due to a crash, the rest of the team battled on to bring home a good result. Franco Caimi finished in the overall top-10 of the rally, with Sebastian Bühler finishing 14th, and Ross Branch finishing 16th. Bühler further also finished second in one stage, marking his first stage podium finish in Dakar. However, the highlight of the race was Ross Branch’s two stage wins in 3 days, proving the mettle of the bike and the team. Branch and Bühler however suffered from fuelling issues in stage 4 losing massive amount of time, robbing the two from a top result. Indian rider Harith Noah – riding for Factory Sherco Racing – also crashed out in stage 4, sustaining fractures for which he underwent surgery.

Hero MotoSports recorded its best ever year in Dakar, grabbing two stage wins and a further stage podium, and an overall top-10 finish. 

The Dakar Rally was first held in 1978, and back then, the event was called Paris-Dakar rally. Most events since the inception were staged from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, events from 2009 to 2019 were held in South America. Since 2020, the rally has been held in Saudi Arabia.

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