Kevin Benavides
Kevin Benavides. (Red Bull photo)

Price And Baciuška Hold Slim Leads Heading Into Final

Kevin Benavides took a big chunk out of Toby Price’s bike lead on Saturday as Rokas Baciuška held on to his T4 lead and Sébastien Loeb claimed his sixth Dakar Rally stage win in a row. 

Just one stage stands between the convoy and the finish. Nearly 5,000 racing kilometres will have been clocked across treacherous terrain — including the Empty Quarter sand dunes — with the leading bike duo separated by 12 seconds ahead of the final Al-Hofuf to Dammam stage.

Australian Price narrowly leads his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Benavides. The Argentine’s stage 13 victory saw him cut 2:28 minutes from the lead with American Skyler Howes still lurking in third place.

“Today I caught the guys around 90km and just thought to myself, ‘If I want to win this race, I need to be at the front and try and capture that bonus a little bit’. I’m happy,” Price said.

Loeb earned his sixth stage win in a row to consolidate second and, while outright victory may be beyond the BRX Hunter driver, he has got useful World Rally-Raid Championship car points behind Nasser Al-Attiyah while Lucas Moraes remains third. Moraes, 31, said, “It was hard to see because of the sun. Timo (Gottschalk) did a great job.”

In T3, Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch grabbed their fifth stage win in their T3-M by MCE5 machine with their Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich teammates AJ Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin and Seth Quintero/Dennis Zenz respectively staying in first and second.

There was movement further back in T3 as Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez overtook Chilean Chaleco López to move 34 seconds ahead into fourth, while their fellow Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team driver Baciuška saw his T4 lead cut to 3:24 minutes by Pole Erik Goczal with one stage remaining.

Sunday’s final stage 14 sees a 136km dash along the coastline of the Arabian Gulf between Al-Hofuf and Dammam with plenty of opportunity for race drama before the big post-race party on the seafront podium.