PREPARING FOR THE SECOND PHASE OF BATTLE: BENAVIDES & PRICE REACH DAKAR 2024 REST DAY
The major rest-day milestone has been reached! Both Toby Price and Kevin Benavides have overcome the first week perils of the notoriously tough Dakar Rally in Saudi aboard their KTM 450 RALLY machines to make it to the all-important mid-point of the race. Time to re-charge, re-focus and prepare for the second part of the battle.
By Fullgas Creative
This year’s Dakar Rally, arguably the toughest race for two-wheels on the planet, didn’t give the riders any gentle introduction; the first stage after the initial prologue was a gnarly one, with a tough variation of terrain – rocky tracks through canyons and volcanoes with difficult navigation, tested the riders’ endurance and skill to the maximum. So much so, riders expressed their gratitude for being out of the dark, black volcanic rock, which kept the pace low and technical, by the end of the stage. But Dakar has never been about easy tests. A consistent day two followed by a stage win for Benavides on the opening part of the marathon stage three, where minimum outside assistance is allowed overnight, gave a boost to his overall ranking, while the comradery of Dakar where riders help each other in times of need did somewhat disrupt the rhythm for Toby Price, who concluded the day in ninth. But it was very early days.
A yo-yo of results for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders over the following two stages, stage five was a pivotal one, as the KTM-aces knew they would be in a reverse start order for the new 48-hour ‘chrono’ stage six. A new concept for 2024 and one that takes a bit to fathom – the chrono stage includes a reverse start, multiple choices of bivouac depending how far the riders get, split result over the two days, no reception for the riders to gauge how they are doing, and absolutely no assistance to service the bike overnight. Just a tent, a package of food and provision to make a fire to camp out under the stars in the ‘Empty Quarter’. The evening, with just basic provisions to hand, was a complete disconnect from the buzzing bivouac that usually follows the riders around as they camped out in the ‘Empty Quarter’. Thankfully both riders emerged unscathed from this intense two days for a well-earned rest day, and a night back with the team ready for the second half of the race.
After the ‘chrono stage’ Toby said, “It was such a long day yesterday – we did about 513 kilometers in the dunes and raced for around six hours and 40 minutes! At the bivouac, we were just given a sleeping bag, a tent, a small box of food rations and tried to get some sleep. Today was good – just 112 kilometers – and it felt great to reach the finish line.”
While reigning Dakar Rally Champion Kevin reiterated the intrigue for the 48-hour ‘chrono’ stage – “We’ve finished the 48-hour marathon stage now. I think it was a good experience – something new to Dakar. Yesterday we raced for so long through the dunes, after well over six hours we arrived at the rest point and were just given a tent, a sleeping bag, and some food. It was really good fun though, camping out with the rest of the guys.“
Price concluded the 48-hour stage in second, and fifth overall into the rest day with Benavides close behind in sixth. There’s a LONG way to go yet, and in this intense, long and difficult race, where riders navigate their way through liaisons and timed specials, anything really can – and does – happen. With the intensity of the job at hand, often starting at 3am in the morning, riders rarely get to see the terrain around them. Thankfully with some well-placed and experienced photographers on the route, we are able to get an insight into what they’ve been through as they criss-crossed the desert over the past week. We take a look through some of the spectacular images of Dakar 2024 so far…
We wish the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders all the best for the second half of the race!
For any Dakar fans reading the KTM Blog, we’d also like to let you know about the special ‘Legends of The Dakar’ exhibition that is at the KTM Motohall in Austria. For more information visit www.ktm-motohall.com