DAK A S O C Lopez

Kevin Benavides, Nasser Al-Attiyah, AJ Jones Headline 2023 Dakar Rally Winners

A dramatic final day to the 2023 Dakar Rally saw two class leads change hands as some of the biggest names in rally raid added their name to this year’s record books. In the motorcycle class, Kevin Benavides made history with the closest margin of victory ever, beating Red Bull KTM teammate Toby Price by just 43 seconds, while 18-year-old Eryk Goczal—already the youngest Dakar entrant and stage winner ever—retook the T4 SSV overall lead from Rokas Baciuska on the final day to become its youngest-ever winner.

DAK A S O F Le Floch DPPI

201 LOEB Sebastien (fra), LURQUIN Fabian (bel), Bahrain Raid Extreme, BRX, Prodrive Hunter, Auto, FIA W2RC, 200 AL-ATTIYAH Nasser (qat), BAUMEL Mathieu (fra), Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota Hilux, Auto, FIA W2RC, 230 MORAES Lucas (bra), GOTTSCHALK Timo (ger), Overdrive Racing, Toyota Hilux, Auto, during the Stage 14 of the Dakar 2023 between Al-Hofuf and Damman, on January 15, 2023 in Damman, Saudi Arabia – Photo Frederic Le Floc’h / DPPI

But while Goczal scored his first-ever Dakar win and Benavides took his second, it was win number five for Nasser Al-Attiyah, who evaded the problems that plagued almost every major rival and maintained an advantage of more than an hour and 20 minutes over Sebastien Loeb at race’s end. Top rookie Lucas Moraes completed the class podium in third. Loeb didn’t come home empty handed, though, setting a new Dakar record with six consecutive stage wins in the second half of the week and actually nipping Al-Attiyah for the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship points lead thanks to all of his stage finish points.

DAK A S O F Le Floch DPPI

JONES Austin (usa), Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing, Can-Am, SSV, FIA W2RC, Motul, GUGELMIN Gustavo (bra), Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing, Can-Am, SSV, FIA W2RC, Motul, portrait during the Stage 14 of the Dakar 2023 between Al-Hofuf and Damman, on January 15, 2023 in Damman, Saudi Arabia – Photo Frederic Le Floc’h / DPPI

It was another strong year for American racers in both the side-by-side and motorcycle classes, with a total of three podiums going to the red, white, and blue. The medal haul was led by the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team duo of AJ Jones and Seth Quintero, who went 1-2 in T3 Lightweight Prototype; it’s Jones’ second class win in two years, following his triumph in T4 SSV last year. On the motorcycles, Husqvarna factory rider Skyler Howes posted his best Dakar finish yet in third after leading the rally for more than a week. Howes’ final result saw him just over five minutes off Benavides’ winning pace.

DAK A S O J Delfosse DPPI

MORENO FLORES Francisco (arg), Dragon, Yamaha, Quad, GIROUD Alexandre (fra), Yamaha Racing – SMX – Drag’on, Yamaha, Quad, COPETTI Pablo (usa), Del Amo Motorsports by Motul, Yamaha, Quad, FIM W2RC, Motul, portrait during the Podium Finish of the Dakar 2023 in Damman, on January 15, 2023 in Damman, Saudi Arabia – Photo Julien Delfosse / DPPI

The class winners were concluded by Alexandre Giroud in quads and Janus Van Kasteren in trucks, after both held substantial leads coming into the final stage. Giroud’s final margin of victory was more than 43 minutes over Francisco Moreno Flores, while Van Kasteren’s 1:14:34 margin of victory over Martin Macik was second only to Al-Attiyah for the largest gap in the rally.

DAK A S O F Le Floch DPPI

502 VAN KASTEREN Janus (nld), RODEWALD Darek (pol), SNIJDERS Marcel (nld), BOSS Machinery Team de Rooy, Iveco, Trucks, celebrating victory with the team during the Stage 14 of the Dakar 2023 between Al-Hofuf and Damman, on January 15, 2023 in Damman, Saudi Arabia – Photo Frederic Le Floc’h / DPPI

2023 Dakar Rally Stage 14 winners were as follows:

  • Bikes: Kevin Benavides, 2:21:47
  • Quads: Marcelo Medeiros, 2:55:48
  • Cars: Guerlain Chicherit, 1:09:24
  • Lightweight Prototype: Cristina Gutierrez, 1:18:01
  • SSV: Carlos Vento Sanchez, 1:21:54
  • Truck: Vaidotas Paskevicius, 1:18:34

2023 Dakar Rally class winners are as follows:

  • Bikes: Kevin Benavides, 44:27:20
  • Quads: Alexandre Giroud, 56:44:30
  • Cars: Nasser Al’Attiyah, 45:03:15
  • Lightweight Prototype: AJ Jones, 51:55:53
  • SSV: Eryk Goczal, 53:10:14
  • Truck: Janus Van Kasteren, 54:03:33

Start-to-finish coverage of the 2023 Dakar Rally is available on demand from Peacock. The W2RC, of which the Dakar is the first of five rounds, continues with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on February 25-March 2.

Chris Leone

A veteran of the motorsports industry (both physical and digital), Chris Leone contributes coverage of race events of all types to Off-Road Racer. Elsewhere, he is the marketing/communications manager at iRacing, media director of Jim Beaver's Down & Dirty Show, and a frequent contributor to UTV Underground.