14 December 2023 / Text Size (-) (+)
Coming into the 2024 Dakar as reigning champion, Kevin Benavides has his sights set on securing back-to-back titles but can Toby Price change that?
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides and Toby Price are fully focused on success as they complete their final preparations ahead of the 2024 Dakar Rally, which starts in Saudi Arabia on January 5. Matthias Walkner will unfortunately miss the race following a recent injury to his left leg.
Coming into the 2024 Dakar as reigning champion, Kevin Benavides has his sights set on securing back-to-back titles at the iconic event. However, the 2023 season was not a kind one for the 34-year-old Argentinian, with injuries forcing him to miss several races over the course of the year. Despite suffering a further, frustrating injury to his leg while training in December, Benavides hopes to be close to 100% fit for Dakar and able to focus on his goal of bringing home the trophy for the second year in a row.
Kevin Benavides: “The Dakar means everything to me. This year was special because I won with KTM, and I had the honor of fighting right to the end with my teammate. The rest of this year has been really tough. I was full of confidence after my Dakar win, but then breaking my femur early in the season, followed by my wrist later on, meant I didn’t get much race time on the bike at all. Behind the scenes, I was training as hard as I could to rebuild my fitness and mental strength, but it’s been a difficult year, for sure. Now, heading into a new year and a new Dakar, I really want to put 2023 behind me and fight for the win once again. I know I have what it takes, we just need to get through it without any setbacks and I should be well in the fight at the end of the race. We’re just a few weeks away from the start and I can’t wait to get going.”
Missing out on the 2023 Dakar Rally win by a mere 43 seconds after two tough weeks of racing, Toby Price has one goal for the 2024 Dakar – to clinch his third career victory. Toby Price enjoyed a strong season of racing in 2023, finishing off his year with a convincing win at the Rallye du Maroc. 2024 marks Toby’s 10th Dakar and he hopes to celebrate that milestone by topping the timesheets at the finish in Yanbu on January 19.
Toby Price: “The 2024 Dakar will be my 10th overall and my ninth riding for the KTM factory team. Out of the nine we’ve done together, I’ve managed to podium in six, which is incredible when you think about how tough the race is and how hard it is to even reach the finish. I’ve had two first-place finishes, a second, and three thirds – to clinch another win on my 10th attempt would be amazing. Dakar is like no other race. For sure, the riding is hard work, fun, and exhausting, but I love the way everyone comes together to complete the race. Dakar is like my second family, so it’s always good to see everyone, get ready for the race, and get my competitive side back going again. I’m in a good place physically, and the bike is good – we’re definitely ready to race Dakar 2024.”
Unfortunately, Matthias Walkner
will miss the 2024 Dakar Rally due to an injury he sustained to his left leg while training in the United States. The 37-year-old racer received immediate surgery to stabilize the break, but will require further surgery once he returns home to Austria. All at Red Bull KTM wish Matthias a full and speedy recovery.
The 46th edition of the Dakar Rally will be held from January 5-19, 2024, starting in AlUla and concluding two weeks later in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea. In total, competitors will cover close to 8,000km, 5,000 of which will be raced against the clock. For its fifth year in Saudi Arabia, the 2024 rally is set to include 14 days of racing, including an opening prologue and a 48-hour stage. During the new 48-hour stage, riders will be stopped at 4pm on the first day before heading off again at 7am the next day. The organizers have promised an incredibly challenging race with 60% new terrain and over 5,000km of special stage.
Andreas Hölzl – Rally Team Manager: “We’re really looking forward to Dakar – the bikes are ready to go and from a technical point of view, we’re really well prepared. Toby is hugely motivated of course. He had a really strong 2023 season and is in good shape, well trained, and fully focused on Dakar. Kevin, although not quite 100 percent after his small crash, also has his sights set firmly on Dakar success. He’s confident and should be close to full fitness by the start of the race in January. As a quick update on Matthias, he should be moved to Austria in the next couple of days for further surgery. It is, for sure, a painful injury that will require some time to heal properly. But the team are fully behind him and hope to see him back racing as soon as possible.”