The 2022 Dakar Rally has quickly turned into a war of attrition. Retired MotoGP rider and Dakar rookie Danilo Petrucci retired due to a technical issue in Stage 2, but competitors have been dropping like flies in the latter stages. Husqvarna’s Skyler Howes withdrew after a crash in Stage 5, Yamaha rider Ross Branch bowed out in Stage 6 with a broken leg, and GasGas Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders called it quits in Stage 7 after injuring his elbow.
Unfortunately, the injury bug bit again in Stage 10, with 2021 Dakar Rally winner and first-year Red Bull KTM rider Kevin Benavides retiring due to an unspecified mechanical issue. Last year, Benavides took Dakar victory with the Monster Energy Honda Racing Team. In the off-season, the Argentine rider switched camps, joining a KTM squad set on reclaiming Dakar glory.
While Stage 10 didn’t pan out for Benavides’ back-to-back ambitions, long-time Red Bull KTM rider Toby Price finished two minutes ahead of the field. Kevin Benavides’ brother and Husqvarna rider Luciano Benavides finished the stage in second while Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren rounded out the podium positions.
With ten stages in the bag, the standings remain close with Van Beveren only outpacing the field by five minutes and fifteen seconds. Monster Energy Honda’s Pablo Quintanilla now holds second place while Gas Gas rider Sam Sunderland is only 45 seconds behind. Overall leader after Stage 9, Matthias Walkner, drops to fourth after Stage 10, but teammate Toby Price moves up to the sixth position with his latest stage win.
“It’s been a really good day for me today,” admitted Price. “I focused on my roadbook the whole way and did a good job with my navigation with only a couple of small mistakes over the whole stage. I’ve moved nicely up the order overall, but there is still a bit of a gap to the front guys. As we know, anything can happen in rally, so I’ll give it my all for these last two days and we’ll see where we end up.”
With only two stages left, less than 10 minutes separates the top 5 riders. As it stands, Yamaha, Honda, KTM, and Gas Gas riders are still in the fight for the 2022 Dakar Rally victory. Even if they don’t take the top prize, hopefully, all riders make it to the finish line.