Yesterday was another momentous day in the history of the Dakar rally, now being held in Saudi Arabia.
Argentina’s new favourite son was on top form throughout the 12 day event and eventually rose to the top of the standings riding for the factory Honda team and narrowly beating 2020 Dakar winner Ricky Brabec into second place with Britain’s Sam Sunderland coming in third for KTM.
Benavides becomes only the third rider outside of Europe to have won the event with Brabec (USA) and Toby Price (Australia) making up the trio. A rider I have tipped to win for the last three years or so…
Riding for Monster Energy Honda Racing on a CRF 450 Rally machine, he took two stage wins with consistent performances in the other stages to clinch the title. Previously he had finished 4th – 2016, 2nd – 2018, 5th – 2019 & 19th – 2020, however he came into the event with a win in the 2020 Andalucia Rally being the only event in the pandemic affected era.
So the future is bright for the 32 year old rider and his status within the Honda team appears assured although he’ll face stiff competition from fellow teammates Brabec, Joan Barreda & José Ignacio Cornejo whom all performed well if not for the usual Dakar hurdles.
As the Covid-19 pandemic begins to ease especially with global vaccination program, we’re expecting more events to continue into 2021 an 2022 however there will be some changes in team line ups with some riders jumping factories or even joining new teams.
Perhaps even some surprise manufacturers tossing their hats into the ring for future events but certainly technology is on the move and the move over to hybrid and full electric is on the near horizon for most competitors. Will we ever see a Benavides calibre rider on a Harley-Davidson concept lightweight electric bike? Could be interesting.