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The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally has come to an end with Monster Energy Honda Team taking 1st and 2nd places of the season. Honda has taken one-two place finish after 34 years. The last time this happened for the brand was back in the year 1987. Taking the top step of the rally race is Kevin Benavides.
His teammate and last year Dakar Rally winner, Ricky Brabec took second place in the race. While he tried for the win, Sam Sunderland riding for Red Bull KTM Factory Team had to settle for the third position in the 2021 Dakar Rally.
The final stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally was held between Yanbu and Jeddah with a total race distance of 452 kilometres. The final special stage was 225 kilometres long where participants had to again tackle a section filled with dunes. The finish line was set at the shores scenic shores of the Red Sea.
Harith Noah riding for TVS sponsored Sherco Factory Rally Team provides another stellar performance in the final stage of the rally race. He gets placed under top 20 for the fourth consecutive time. He completed the final stage of the Dakar Rally in 19th position.
Harith Noah now becomes the youngest Indian rider to complete the Dakar Rally race. He also becomes the top Indian rider in the Dakar Rally with the best-ever 20th place finish in the General Standings of the rally race. He made up five places in the last four stages of the race with his consistent performance.
Lorenzo Santolino proves to be the top man for the Sherco Factory Rally Team by finishing 6th place in General. While his teammate, Rui Goncalves finishes just above Harith Noah to complete in 19th place for the race.
Hero MotoSports Rally Team finishes the 2021 Dakar Rally with two top 15 finishes. After what has been an emotional year for the team, they have overcome all the obstacles to complete the 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally on a high note. The team took a blow after CS Santosh went out of contention due to a crash early on in the race.
However, Joaquim Rodrigues and Sebastian Buhler continued their amazing and consistent perfromance to bring the Indian team across the finish line. Joaquim Rodrigues completed the final stage and scored 11th position in General standings. While teammate Sebastian Buhler completed his 2021 Dakar Rally run with a 14th place finish.
Ashish Raorane made his debut at the 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally competing as a privateer. He joined the rally race in what is known to be the toughest class called 'Original by Motul' previously called Malle Moto.
After suffering a massive fall in Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally, Ashish rejoined the race under the Experience programme from Stage 9 of the race. He has crossed the finish line of the final stage of the rally race with a 61st place finish. We hope to see him again at the next year's edition of the rally race representing our country.
Participating in the women's category consistently from the year 2011, Laia Sanz has completed her 11th Dakar Rally this year. The Gas Gas Factory Team rider has topped the women's category again with a 17th place finish in the General Standing of the race.
2021 Dakar Rally winner, Kevin Benavides, Monster Energy Honda Team, said, "It was crazy. I started third and after fifty kilometres I was in front of opening the stage. I feel that everything was complicated because Ricky started to catch up with me. I started to push a lot, all day and stayed focused, so I did a good job today. Also, I went to one hundred and ten per cent, but now it's true: I've won the Dakar - I'm so, so happy! I did some mistakes, for sure. I think it's impossible to do a perfect Dakar. The important thing is to always continue, to stay calm and focused day by day and to work hard day by day."
He further added, "I am proud to be the first South American winner. My dream was also to make history and now I am the first South American guy to win the Dakar. That is amazing for me. For sure, we did a really good job throughout the Dakar like team-mates. Nacho had a really bad crash and also Joan, but we did a really good job as a team".
Hero MotoSport Rally Team Standings
8th Position - Joaquim Rodrigues [02:29:20]
10th Position - Sebastian Buhler [02:30:08]
6th Position - Lorenzo Santolino [02:27:33]
13th Position - Rui Goncalves [02:33:13]
19th Position - Harith Noah [02:43:20]
61st Position - Ashish Raorane [04:35:36]
1st Position - Ricky Brabec [02:17:02] (Monster Energy Honda Team 2021)
2nd Position - Kevin Benavides [02:19:19] (Monster Energy Honda Team 2021)
3rd Position -Matthias Walkner [02:21:15] (Red Bull KTM Factory Team)
Pablo Copetti (MX Devesa By Berta)
Carlos Sainz & Lucas Cruz (X-RAID MINI JCW Team)
Kris Meeke & Wouter Rosegaar (PH-Sport)
Reinaldo Varela & Maykel Justo (Moster Energy CAN-AM)
Martin Macik, Frantisek Tomasek & David Svanda (Big Shock Racing)
Antonio Gutierrez & Luis Heras Rodriguez (RUMBO ZERO)
Hero MotoSport Rally Team Standings
11th Position - Joaquim Rodrigues
14th Position - Sebastian Buhler
6th Position - Lorenzo Santolino
19th Position - Rui Goncalves
20th Position - Harith Noah
1st Position - Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team 2021)
2nd Position - Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team 2021)
3rd Position - Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Factory Team)
Manuel Andujar (7240 Team)
Stephane Peterhansel & Edouard Boulanger (X-RAID MINI JCW TEAM)
Francisco Lopez Contardo & Juan Pablo Latrach Vinagre (South Racing CAN-AM)
Dmitry Sotnikov, Ruslan Akhmadeev & Ilgiz Akhmetzianov (Kamaz - Master)
Marc Douton & Emilien Etienne (Team Sunhill)
Thoughts About The 2021 Dakar Rally
Much like all the time, the Dakar Rally continues to amaze with brilliant landscape and harsh terrain. Most participants have made to the finish line in Jeddah. However, for some the desert proved to be unforgiving.
The participation and caliber of the perfromance showcased by Indian team and riders were high as ever. Harith Noah has made it to the history books with his consistent performance. The Dakar Rally 2021 was the first-ever race after the last year's pandemic. The edge of the seat action continued gazing at the timing sheet this year. Can't wait to get back for next year.