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The 14th and final stage of Dakar 2023 saw Kevin Benavides and Nasser A-Attiyah claim the overall wins as the KTM rider and Guerlain Chicherit took the stage wins on the final day of the rally.
The final stage of this year's edition of the world's toughest rally saw competitors cover a total of 417km from Al-Hofuf to the finish line in Dammam by the Persian Gulf which included a final 134km long special stage across the desert sands of Saudi Arabia.
The bikes category exited Al-Hofuf in the reverse order of the General rankings as per Dakar's rules. This meant that three title contenders - Skyler Howes (Husqvarna), Kevin Benavides and Toby Price (both KTM) - were the last three riders to start the journey with the two KTM riders separated by just 12 seconds.
However, KTM's Argentinian rider Kevin Benavides had made up the 12-second deficit to his Australian teammate Price by the time the riders had gone past the 33km waypoint in the special stage. From then on, Benavides powered forward as he went on to claim both the stage win and the Dakar crown for a second time with a time of 1 hour, 15 minutes and 17 seconds.
Two-time Dakar winner Price, who did not end up winning a single stage at Dakar 2023, claimed the second spot, ending the final stage of the rally, 55 seconds behind his teammate and rival.
The final podium spot for today's stage was claimed by Honda's Pablo Quintanilla who ended the stage 3 minutes and 15 seconds behind Benavides.
Hero's Sebastian Buhler finished today's stage in 6th place, 4 minutes and 14 seconds behind Benavides. Sherco's Lorenzo Santolino finished the stage in 12th place, 7 minutes and 37 seconds behind the stage winner.
Hero's Franco Caimi was two places behind Santolino in 14th, 8 minutes and 4 seconds behind Benavides while two-time stage winner Ross Branch ended the final day of Dakar in 17th, 8 minutes and 19 seconds behind the stage winner.
Today's win propelled KTM's Kevin Benavides to the overall victory in the bikes category at Dakar 2023. Benavides finishes Dakar 2023 with a time of 44 hours 27 minutes and 20 seconds.
Benavides beat two-time Dakar winner and KTM teammate, Toby Price to the overall victory by just 43 seconds. Husqvarna's Skyler Howes claimed the final podium spot at Dakar 2023, finishing the world's toughest rally, 5 minutes and 4 seconds behind Benavides.
Lorenzo Santolino, the lone Sherco rider to complete Dakar 2023, ended the rally in 9th overall, 1 hour, 17 minutes and 53 seconds behind Benavides.
Hero Motosports had one rider in the top 10 of Dakar for the very first time. Argentina's Franco Caimi took 10th overall at Dakar 2023 finishing the rally 1 hour, 38 minutes and 4 seconds behind Benavides.
Sebastian Buhler ended Dakar 2023 in 20th overall, 4 hours 15 minutes and 13 seconds behind the overall winner.
Ross Branch, the first Hero rider to win two stages at the Dakar was 26th overall, ending the world's toughest rally 6 hours, 59 minutes and 13 seconds behind the overall winner. While Branch won two stages, mechanical issues on multiple stages ensured that he wasn't in the running for the overall victory.
The final stage of Dakar 2023 was claimed by GCK Motorsports driver Guerlain Chicherit who drove across the dunes in Prodrive hunter in a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 24 seconds.
Audi's Mattias Ekstrom once again found himself on the podium as he finished the stage, 1 minute and 36 seconds behind Chicherit.
The final podium spot for Stage 14 was claimed by X-Raid Mini JCW team driver Sebastian Halpern who finished the stage 3 minutes and 8 seconds behind Chicherit.
In the overall ranking, Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed his 5th Dakar win this year as the Toyota driver ended the rally in 45 hours, 3 minutes and 15 seconds. The Qatari driver ended the rally, 1 hour, 20 minutes and 49 seconds ahead of his closest rival Sebastian Loeb.
Speaking about the 9-time WRC champion, Loeb broke quite a few records on his way to his fourth podium finish in 7 years at the Dakar. Loeb became the first driver to win 6 stages of the Dakar in a row and claimed a total of 7 stage wins this year. However, mechanical issues in the first half of Dakar saw him fall short of his target once again.
The final podium spot in the car's category was claimed by Overdrive Racing's Brazilian driver Lucas Moraes who ended the rally 1 hour 38 minutes and 31 seconds behind Al-Attiyah.
Thoughts About Dakar 2023
Dakar 2023 saw the world's toughest rally give up some crazy highs and lows for competitors and fans alike. The cars category was won by Nasser Al-Attiyah in the first week of the rally with the Qatari driver's consistent driving saw him win by the largest time gap at this year's Dakar among all categories.
The bikes were chaos as usual with the tough Dakar stages claiming many a rider early in the first half of Dakar, including the lone Indian rider in the mix, Harith Noah along with Hero's Joaquim Rodrigues crashes out in stage 4.
However, the riders kept the race going till the final moments of the Dakar with Kevin Benavides claiming the final two stage wins to snatch a second overall victory at Dakar from his teammate Toby Price.