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ADV NewsKTM Factory Team Gears Up For Bigger And Tougher 2023 Dakar Rally

KTM Factory Team Gears Up For Bigger And Tougher 2023 Dakar Rally

The three-rider team of former champions is aiming to take back the win.

Published on 12.16.2022

“Be afraid” is the message from the organizers as they promise an even more challenging Dakar 2023 in Saudi Arabia. The most fierce opponent anyone will face is the route itself with 14 punishing stages, loaded with more dunes and potential pitfalls than we’ve witnessed since the rally’s relocation to the Middle East. 

In fact, the upcoming Dakar will be the densest rally format in its modern era with the majority of the special stages covering close to 450 km (280 miles). Moreover, the liaison sectors will be shorter, with the finish lines closer to the bivouacs. In total, with 5,000 kilometers of special stages, this edition will feature the longest distance of competition since 2014. 

2023 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Dakar Team

With two weeks to go before the start of the next Dakar odyssey, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Kevin Benavides say they are fired up to take on the massive challenge. All former champions of the iconic race, the three-rider team is aiming to take back the coveted win in spite of facing a 2022 season disrupted by injuries. 

2023 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Dakar Team

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Toby Price endured a tough year that saw his massive potential knocked by a roadbook issue at the Dakar, followed by a crash in Morocco later in the year, which forced him to withdraw from the Rallye du Maroc while fighting for the win. However, the experienced Australian knows that anything can happen in rally and says he has already put his difficult year behind him to focus on the Dakar. Happy with the changes made to his KTM 450 Rally machine over the summer’s testing, and confident that the navigation-focused 2023 Dakar will suit his skillset, Toby is fired-up to attack the formidable event.

KTM Dakar rider Toby Price
KTM Dakar rider Toby Price

Toby Price: “I felt great going into the Rallye du Maroc and my pace there was good, it’s just unfortunate a crash put an end to my race. We’ve got some more testing to do now in December ahead of a short break over Christmas, but then it’s straight back to it at the end of the year. I’ve had five podiums at the Dakar, and I know I have the pace to win – everything just needs to come together and I’m sure I can be up there fighting for another title.”

Matthias Walkner returns to rally competition for the first time since the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, where he matched his Dakar result of third place. The Austrian rider then underwent much-needed surgery on a shoulder injury that had been plaguing him for some time. Now, close to 100% fit, the 2018 Dakar winner will be aiming to secure a second title at the world’s toughest cross-country rally.

KTM Dakar rider Matthias Walkner
KTM Dakar rider Matthias Walkner

Matthias Walkner:It sounds like the organizers have planned an especially tough route for 2023, and with a few rule changes thrown in, I think the race will present a massive challenge. I’m still coming off a year where I missed a lot of races after receiving surgery to my shoulder, so hopefully I don’t get any issues there. But of course the goal is to win. I know I have an amazing team around me, and the bike is working really well right now – all the testing and development has really come together. The Dakar always throws up a few surprises, but I feel I’m super prepared for this one and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Looking forward to racing his second Dakar Rally with Red Bull KTM, Kevin Benavides is also focused on rewarding all the hard work put in by the team with a win. The Argentinian has enjoyed a solid 2022 season with podium results in Chile and at the final world championship round in Spain. With another year of experience gained racing the KTM 450 Rally, Benavides feels comfortable on the bike and with the team and heads to Saudi Arabia confident and highly motivated for success.

KTM Dakar rider Kevin Benavides
KTM Dakar rider Kevin Benavides

Kevin Benavides: After spending the summer testing with the team, we made a lot of changes to the bike, and they paid off with a podium at the Atacama Rally and a strong result in Morocco. Finishing as runner-up at the final round of the year was great and really helped to build my confidence ahead of 2023. I’ve been doing a lot of work with my trainer throughout the year and feel prepared both physically and mentally ahead of such a long Dakar. I’m looking forward to it and can hopefully secure another podium result for myself and the team.”

The 45th edition of the Dakar Rally starts with a prologue on December 31, 2022 and runs through January 15th, 2023. This will be the fourth time the Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia, which will include 70% new tracks. 

Photos: Sebas Romero

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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Quin Mar
Quin Mar
December 19, 2022 7:26 pm

Big shout-out for Toby Price! Hopefully the Honda boys bring it, put pressure on them, and make it an exciting race for us to enjoy.

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