Kevin Benavides Wins Dakar 2021
Kevin Benavides is the first South American to win the Dakar Rally
As if 12 stages and more than 8,000 kilometres to cover were not tough enough, competitors this year also had to be extra cautious to avoid falling prey to the coronavirus pandemic. following airtight precautions and safety measures, dakar 2021 was flagged off from Jeddah, saudi arabia. over the next fortnight, many competitors were overcome by the extreme conditions of the desert while some were simply caught unawares when the terrain threw up its usual share of surprises.
the red Bull Ktm factory team star, toby Price, got off to a good start and led the
race after the first stage while the defending champion, ricky Brabec (monster energy Honda team 2021), suffered a few setbacks. over the next couple of stages, these gentlemen were either among the top five general rankings or not among the top 10 at all. meanwhile, their respective teammates kept up the momentum by being featured regularly among the top 10. at the end of stage five, Kevin Benavides (monster energy Honda team 2021) rose to the top of the overall rankings for the first time in the race but then lost it to Price by the end of the next day. from then on, the fight for the top spot heated up and the top five exchanged places through stages six and eight. By the end of stage nine, Benavides had climbed back to second place, just behind his teammate, Jose ignacio Cornejo florimo.
stage 10 was, perhaps, the defining moment of dakar 2021 for Benavides because his teammate, florimo, did not finish the stage. Benavides immediately claimed the lead and did well to defend it until the end of stage 12. Benavides claimed his first-ever dakar victory and it was a hard-fought battle because, by stage 11, Brabec had come charging into second place, bringing along with him a formidable challenger in the person of sam sunderland (red Bull Ktm factory team). in the end, Brabec claimed second place while sunderland settled for third position among the 63 motorcycles that finished the race.
meanwhile, in the original by motul category (formerly malle moto), the Lithuanian rider, arūnas Gelažninkas, took the title. imagine winning the dakar with no external support. Whew! that is an achievement of a very high order indeed.