After fifteen days and over 5,000 kilometres, the 2023 Dakar Rally wrapped up Sunday in Dammam on the eastern side of Saudi Arabia. The longest Rally since its move to the Middle East in 2020, it presented a challenging route that knocked multiple frontrunners out of the overall.
Yet the more things change, the more they also stay the same. While Guerlain Chicherit scored his second stage win, the results of Stage #14 did little to affect the T1 overall as Nasser Al-Attiyah won his fifth Dakar Rally by 1:20:49 over Chicherit’s fellow Prodrive Hunter Sébastien Loeb. Hunters won nine of the fourteen legs including seven by Loeb, but technical problems during the first half doomed them from vying for the overall.
Chicherit’s win moved him into tenth overall and third in T1 of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship behind Al-Attiyah and Loeb.
“Congratulations to Nasser and Mathieu (Baumel) for their victory and to Sébastien and Fabian (Lurquin) for their fantastic remontada. Alex (Winocq) and I are finishing with the satisfaction of being able to remobilise after a frustrating second leg by the end of which we’d already lost any chance of winning the Rally,” said Chicherit. “The car suffered, and so did I. Cars have become so efficient that they take us to the limits of our bodies. This even went as far as a brief loss of consciousness on landing a jump. Despite the pain, we managed to score several top five finishes in the second half of the Rally, allowing us to made a solid start in the context of the championship. We know what we still have to do to improve the Prodrive Hunter and we’ve gathered a lot of precious data to develop our e-Blast H2.”
The final stage was also the last chance for winless drivers to try for the stage victory: indeed, three FIA classes had new victors. Cristina Gutiérrez won in T3 to become the lone female stage victor of 2023; she also won the Prologue but it did not count towards the final classification. Privateer Carlos Vento Sanchez claimed T4 ahead of Cristiano Batista and Michal Goczał. In T5, Vaidotas Paškevičius was the lone driver not of Czech or Dutch nationality to win a stage as the Lithuanian defeated Mitchel van den Brink, who recently turned 21, by just seven seconds.
“I’m very happy that we didn’t make a single mistake today. In general, during this competition, we had very few mistakes and only minor ones,” recapped Paškevičius. “This means that the crew is working properly. We are all happy to be at the finish line and with such a resounding chord at the end. We thank all our partners who have embarked on this odyssey together. We hope that next year we will support the common goal again and perform better, spread good emotion and increase interest in this race and our team in Lithuania.”
Kevin Benavides won the stage on two wheels with fifty-five seconds on Toby Price to also clinch his second overall title. A closer battle took place in Rally2 where Romain Dumontier iced his Rally2 title by edging out Jeanloup Lepan by five seconds and Julien Jagu by seven. Charan Moore and Laisvydas Kancius respectively claimed Malle Moto and Quad.
The starting order for the Bikes was inverted, meaning Price—the overall leader entering the stage—began at the back. Many of the first riders, who were amateurs and privateers, got caught in mud that hampered their times; Malle Moto rider Cesare Zacchetti‘s bike got so stuck that he needed a helicopter to pull it out.
Stage #14 winners
|T1||206||Guerlain Chicherit||GCK Motorsport||1:09:24|
|T2||250||Ronald Basso*||Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body||1:30:01|
|T3||302||Cristina Gutiérrez||Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team||1:18:01|
|T4||444||Carlos Vento Sanchez*||Patriot Racing Team||1:21:54|
|T5||514||Vaidotas Paškevičius*||Fesh Fesh Team||1:18:34|
|RallyGP||47||Kevin Benavides||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:15:17|
|Rally2||17||Romain Dumontier||Team Dumontier Racing||1:23:21|
|Malle Moto||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||1:28:03|
|Quad||162||Laisvydas Kancius||Story Racing SRO||1:36:16|
|T1||200||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||45:03:15|
|T2||250||Ronald Basso*||Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body||107:39:42|
|T3||303||Austin Jones||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team||51:55:53|
|T4||428||Eryk Goczał||EnergyLandia Rally Team||53:10:14|
|T5||502||Janus van Kasteren||Boss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO||54:03:33|
|RallyGP||47||Kevin Benavides||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||44:27:20|
|Rally2||17||Romain Dumontier||Team Dumontier Racing||47:03:58|
|Malle Moto||40||Charan Moore*||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||52:24:42|
|Quad||151||Alexandre Giroud*||Drag’on Rally Team||56:44:30|
|Classic||778||Juan Morera*||Toyota Classic||428 points|