World Rally-Raid Championship

2023 Rallye du Maroc: Kevin Benavides sitting out Morocco to focus on Dakar

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Credit: Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

Kevin Benavides‘ 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship has not gone the way he hoped, and thus will turn his attention towards defending his Dakar Rally crown. As the W2RC season prepares to come to an end at the Rallye du Maroc, Benavides confirmed Thursday that he will skip the event to focus on the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Benavides broke his wrist in late July while testing in the United States, forcing him to miss the Desafío Ruta 40. Although he clarified that his recovery has gone well and he can “withstand the pain that racing would present,” he added “there is a lot of risk and I prefer to play my cards smart” and would rather be at 100 percent for Dakar.

He was not mentioned on the 136-rider entry list, but travelled to Morocco anyway to gauge his post-injury riding and support his younger brother Luciano Benavides. Luciano currently leads the W2RC RallyGP standings with a nine-point edge over Toby Price entering the season finale.

By skipping Morocco, he will have only run two races in 2023. Benavides began the year on a dream note when he won the Dakar Rally for the second time, mounting a dramatic run in the final two stages to to beat Price and Skyler Howes. However, his campaign was eventually derailed when he broke his femur in a shakedown crash just days before the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Benavides returned for the Sonora Rally in April, where he rode conservatively to ensure he was back in shape and finished twelfth in class. His Dakar win means he is still top five in points, though skipping Morocco will obviously drop him down the final order.

The Rallye du Maroc begins Friday, while the 2024 Dakar Rally kicks off on 5 January.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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