SportsKevin Benavides takes his second Dakar to the sprint by just 43...

    Kevin Benavides takes his second Dakar to the sprint by just 43 seconds, one of the closest finishes in history

    After more than 4,000 kilometers under the clock, the last 136 decided the winner of the 2023 Dakar rally in the motorcycle category. Kevin Benavides (Salta, Argentina, 34 years old) beat his teammate, the Australian Toby Price, in an intense and muddy final sprint and won the test after 44h27m20s crossing Saudi soil. The final distance between the two candidates was 43 seconds, the closest since official records were kept. “Greetings to Leo and the boys from the national team, I was able to beat Saudi Arabia,” joked the champion on the finish line, euphoric after winning his second crown in a tricky stage with many navigation traps and difficult terrain.

    When the day began, Price led the classification by 12 seconds. After 33 km, Benavides was on par in the middle of the mud, in a fast special with many sections on the sand of the beach. “It has been incredible, very hard. I tried to be consistent and I fought it a lot, ”he declared. In the timed final he counted to 18 scares and it was the limit to win. The Argentine is the fifth driver to win with two different brands after Edi Orioli, Cyril Neveu, Richard Sainct and Sam Sunderland. Price, who aspired to lift his third Touareg, resigned himself at the finish line: “It is what it is. It’s very frustrating to lose him on the last day, but I’m happy for Kevin,” he commented.

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    Winner of the 2021 Dakar, Benavides was the first South American to win the test and the first Argentine to win a stage in the motorcycle category in 2016, just in the year of his debut. He celebrated his birthday on the 9th in Riyadh, coinciding with the rest day of the competition. All his teammates were there, quite a few, since KTM participates under three different brands in the rally and has once again dominated the general classification. The American Skyler Howes, third classified with Husqvarna, a Swedish brand owned by the Austrian group, completed the podium of the intense and exciting motorcycle test. His brother, Luciano, 27, was there to celebrate and was also the rider with the most victories (3) in the edition with his Husqvarna.

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    Benavides learned to ride motorcycles with his father, Norberto. He put a condition on him when he wanted to travel to Europe to pursue his dream. He had to graduate from college. He turned 21 and in 2011 he moved to Spain and then to Italy, where he built his professional career. His close circle says that he listens and is responsible, as well as a born worker. After finishing the 2022 edition in tears due to an engine failure in his debut with KTM, this Sunday he was able to touch the sky again on the shores of the Persian Gulf, very close to Dammam.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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