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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|F. Lopez Contardo