DAK A S O A Vincent DPPI

Resilient Benavides, Record-Setting Peterhansel Claim 2021 Dakar Rally Wins

Even a broken nose couldn’t stop Monster Energy Honda rider Kevin Benavides from claiming motorcycle class glory at the Dakar Rally in 2021. Despite suffering the injury midway through the grueling two-week event—on a stage that he won, no less—Benavides ensured that his team would go back-to-back this year. Defending champion and fellow Honda rider Ricky Brabec would come home second overall after winning today’s stage, reclaiming the runner-up spot from Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland, who had won yesterday’s trek from Al Ula to Yanbu. Rookie Daniel Sanders was fourth, while privateer Skyler Howes made it two Americans in the top five.

DAK A S O E Vargiolu DPPI
300 Sainz Carlos (esp), Cruz Lucas (esp), Mini, X-Raid Mini JCW Team, Auto, 302 Peterhansel Stephane (fra), Boulanger Edouard (fra), Mini, X-Raid Mini JCQ Team, Auto, action during the 12th stage of the Dakar 2021 between Yanbu and Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia on January 15, 2021 – Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI

But while Benavides was busy celebrating his first Dakar triumph, X-Raid Mini JCW Team driver Stephane Peterhansel extended his event record with his 14th career win, and his eighth since trading two wheels for four in 1999. The Frenchman took the overall lead after Stage 2 and never looked back, winning just one stage along the way but never finishing worse than fourth. In the end, that consistency was just too much for Nasser Al-Attiyah to overcome, despite his five stage wins through the event. 2020 race winner Carlos Sainz finished third after taking the final stage of the rally.

DAK DPPI F Le Floch
401 Lopez Contardo Francisco (chl), Latrach Vinagre Juan Pablo (chl), Can-Am, South Racing Can-Am, Motul, SSV Series – T4, action during the 11th stage of the Dakar 2021 between Al-‘Ula and Yanbu, in Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2021 – Photo Frederic Le Floc’h / DPPI

Unfortunately for the United States, there won’t be any American winners this year after the stars and stripes claimed two titles last year—but, as in motorcycles, the USA can still boast a runner-up finish in the SSV division thanks to Austin Jones. At one point the overall leader of the rally, Jones came into the final day more than 18 minutes behind Chaleco Lopez for the overall lead, and was only able to reclaim a little more than two minutes on stage. It’s Lopez’s second SSV class win in three years. WRC veteran Kris Meeke and his T3 lightweight prototype claimed today’s stage among all lightweight vehicles, while Josef Machacek was the best T3 racer at 12th overall. American Dakar rookies Wayne Matlock and Seth Quintero were 13th and 18th in the combined UTV standings, respectively.

DAK A S O A Vincent DPPI
Andujar Manuel (arg), Yamaha, 7240 Team, Quad, portrait, celebrating his win of the dakar during the 12th stage of the Dakar 2021 between Yanbu and Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia on January 15, 2021 – Photo Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Pablo Copetti and Martin Macik took the quad and truck stage wins in the finale, but top-three stage results from Manuel Andujar and Dmitry Sotnikov ensured they’d maintain their major overall leads to claim the wins in those two classes. The same was true in the Dakar Classic regularity rally, which saw Antonio Gutierrez become its fifth different stage winner in the last six stages, but a second place finish from Marc Douton sealed a dominant overall victory.

DAK A S O J Delfosse DPPI
507 Sotnikov Dmitry (rus), Akhmadeev Ruslan (rus), Akhmatzianov Ilgiz (rus), Kamaz, Kamaz – Master, Camion, Truck, portrait during the finishing podium ceremony at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia on January 15, 2021 – Photo Julien Delfosse / DPPI

Coverage of today’s Dakar Rally action will air on NBCSN at 6PM ET/3PM PT.

2021 Dakar Rally Stage 12 Winners

  • Motorcycle: Ricky Brabec, 2:17:02
  • Quad: Pablo Copetti, 3:11:30
  • Car: Carlos Sainz, 2:17:33
  • Lightweight Prototype: Kris Meeke, 2:41:11
  • SSV: Reinaldo Varela, 2:44:26
  • Truck: Martin Macik, 2:32:27
  • Classic: Antonio Gutierrez, 15 points

2021 Dakar Rally Overall Rankings

ClassMotorcycleQuadCarLightweight/SSVTruck
1stK. BenavidesM. AndujarS. PeterhanselF. Lopez ContardoD. Sotnikov
2ndR. BrabecG. EnricoN. Al-AttiyahA. JonesA. Shibalov
3rdS. SunderlandP. CopettiC. SainzA. DomzalaA. Mardeev
4thD. SandersK. WisniewskiJ. PrzygonskiM. GoczalM. Macik
5thS. HowesT. KubienaN. RomaR. VarelaA. Loprais
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.