Red Bull KTM locked out the Dakar 2023 standings on Saturday after stage 13 winner Kevin Benavides trailed teammate Toby Price with one day to go.
After over 43 hours of racing in the Saudi Arabian desert, the KTM pair are separated by just 12 seconds with just one 136km special - and the 281km liaison left to run.
Saturdays’ action clocked in at 675kms, albeit only 154kms were timed, with the dunes of the Empty Quarter once again dominating the terrain. Benavides secured the victory by almost half a minute, despite a delay of over 20 minutes to ensure crashed teammate Matthias Walkner was receiving medical support.
Despite his own crash on the penultimate day, Price retained his overall lead thanks to a fifth place finish ahead of Sunday’s finale, which kicks off with a reverse-order start.
“It’s always a difficult day when you see someone has had a crash, and it’s worse when it’s your teammate,” Benavides confirmed on Saturday’s action. “I stayed with Matthias until help arrived and although he was in some pain, he then told me to carry on.
"I pushed hard for the rest of the stage, but it’s tricky to focus after seeing something like that. To win the stage is amazing, and to be second overall and so close to Toby is even more of a surprise. With one day left all I can do is try my best and the results will be decided at the finish line.”
“It’s been a hectic day out there today,” Price commented. “I caught the guys in front at about kilometre 90 and thought to myself 'if I want to win this race, I have to be out front and capture that bonus a little bit’.
“I had a small crash where I was focused on the top of one dune, lost the front, and fell over. Then around kilometre 130 we just went slightly too far right and lost a little time getting back on course.
“I really pushed hard all day, with the goal to still be in the lead going into the final day. I managed to do that, so I’m pleased, but it’s still incredibly tight at the top. Tomorrow really is going to be a race to the finish line, but I’ll give it all I have and see where we end up.”