Dakar Rally 2023, Stage 13: Top three riders separated by 91 seconds; Loeb sets record

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The top three bike riders in the 2023 Dakar Rally are separated by 91 seconds heading after Stage 13 and heading into the final day of the rally raid classic.

Two-time Dakar champion Toby Price leads Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Kevin Benavides (the Stage 13 winner) by 12 seconds with one stage remaining. American Skyler Howes is 1 minute, 31 seconds behind on his Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally 450.

Pushing to the limit to maintain his lead, Price went over the edge but recovered to finish fifth.

“I made one little mistake around 130 (kilometers),” the Australian said. “We went too far right, and I took a fall while looking at the top of a dune. At this stage here, you need to push to keep the lead. The last days, the dunes have been really soft, you can get stuck very easily. It was really difficult to try and keep on the cap heading.

“I caught the guys around 90 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, I’ve put a 100% in every day.”

Benavides moved into second overall with his first stage victory in this year’s Dakar.

He won Stage 13 after being compensated for time he lost by stopping to wait for a safety team to reach teammate Matthias Walkner, who crashed out in a hard impact and needed to be airlifted for medical attention.

“I saw Matthias on the ground at kilometer 55, and it was so scary because he was with a lot of pain on the back,” Benavides said. “He said he feels he broke something. I stayed with him. We called the doctors. And then when he was a little more calm, he told me to go, because otherwise I can’t do nothing, just try to say everything will be OK. I hope everything will be OK for him. He’s my teammate, so it’s hard.”

Howes finished seventh in the stage, 3 minutes, 31 seconds behind the winner and just over a minute behind Price (who had taken the lead in Stage 12) after two minor crashes.

“I definitely pushed my all,” said Howes, the Utah resident trying to become the second U.S. rider to win the Dakar. “In the very first part, I had one small crash, just got stuck in the dunes. I came up on (a crash for Matthias Walkner). After that moment, I was a bit nervous because we were going in the direction with a lot of big dune cuts. I also had some big jumps off of them myself. I wanted to push and I really wanted to win, but I also wanted to get to the finish line safely.

“Then we had one mistake, where we missed a waypoint and had to do a circle. It was hard to find a rhythm with the sun directly overhead and the big dune drops, I was a bit nervous out there. At the end, I really pushed, and a couple of mistakes slowed me down a bit.”

AUTO-MOTO-RALLY-DAKAR-STAGE13
Skyler Howes races across the vast dunes during Stage 13 of the 2023 Dakar Rally (Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images).

There is one stage remaining, but Howes conceded that Stage 13 was the last chance to gain significant ground because making up 91 seconds on the last day “is not really a big possibility. We’ll still give it a push. Anything can happen on the last day.

“I have to be super happy with how the race has gone so far because I can never look back and think I didn’t ride my best,” Howes said. “The last stage is going to be very fast and not really enough to make up valuable time. The result today will define the outcome of the race.”

Howes is the last remaining American threat with the withdrawal of Mason Klein after Stage 12. Klein, who was impressive during the first week of his second Dakar start, suffered the lingering effects of some crashes that affected his head and neck.

“I’m done,” Klein, 21, said after Stage 12. “Just in so much pain. I can’t stand. I can’t sit. I just can’t ride. I only rode today because I didn’t know how to get back any other way.”

Bart Van Der Velden, the team for BAS world that fields Klein’s bike, said it was a “wise decision” to withdraw because the riding would be “dangerous” with the injuries.

“It’s not worth battling for a 20th position or something like that,” Van Der Velden said. “We know he’s capable of a good result, and it’s not worth putting yourself at such a risk, especially at that age.”

In the car category, Sebastien Loeb set a Dakar Rally record in the T1-plus category with his sixth consecutive stage victory, but he still trails Nasser-Al-Attiyah by an insurmountable 1:21:42. The previous mark for consecutive stage wins by a car driver was held by Ari Vatanen, who won six in a row during the 1989 Dakar Rally.

“It’s great, even though the record was not necessarily my goal,” said Loeb, who has seven stage wins. “I especially wanted to cement my second place. Championship points are important too, so I pushed. I can set a strong pace, I’m confident, I can drive aggressively while watching out for broken dunes. It’s cool.”

Al-Attiyah finished second in the stage and is a virtual lock for his fifth Dakar Rally championship.

“I’m happy to keep our first place until the finish,” Al-Attiyah said. “For the (W2RC) championship, it is important to do well, like we did today, because it earns us points in the fight against Séb, who’s cranking out one stage win after another. Today, finishing just behind him limits the difference to 1 point, but what is really important to me is winning the Dakar.

“The race was great for us, we just have to bring the title home now.”

The American drivers of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA continued to dominate the T3 lightweight prototype category. Mitch Guthrie won his fifth stage while teammates Austin “A.J.” Jones and Seth Quintero continued to hold the top two overall spots.

“It was a tough day, but a lot of fun,” Guthrie said. “The car did great, so we’re happy. A long day, tough on the body and on the car.

“I’m happy we’ve definitely shown the speed that the car has, the team, everyone. We’ve put in a lot of work, and it’s been a great rally so far, other than some issues we had.”

Jones finished ninth in what he called his hardest stage. “It was tough, and I wasn’t expecting it,” Jones said. “About halfway through, I was asking my navigator, ‘Is all day going to be like this?’ ”

NBC Sports’ daily 6:30 p.m. ET coverage of the 2023 Dakar Rally will continue tonight on Peacock’s NBC Sports channel.

NEXT: The final stage will end on the shores of the Persian Gulf after a 414-kilometer stage (136km against the clock in the special) from Al-Hofuf to Dammam.

Here are the stage winners and the top three in the overall rankings for each category (along with U.S. notables) after Stage 13 of the 2023 Dakar Rally:


Car

Stage 13 winner: Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Xtreme, 2:26:17

General rankings: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 43:48:10; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Xtreme, 45:09:52; 3. Lucas Moraes (BRA), Overdrive Racing, 45:24:00.

Bike

Stage 13 winner: Toby Price (AUS), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 2:21:47

General rankings: 1. Toby Price (AUS), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 43:11:51; 2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 43:12:03; 3. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna Factory Racing, 43:13:22. U.S. notables: 21. Jacob Argubright, Duust Co Rally Team, 47:18:47; 50. Pablo Copetti, Del Amo Motorsports, 56:55:04; 63. Petr Vlcek, Detyens Racing, 59:52:44; 85. Morrison Hart, American Rally Originals, 82:56:41. Withdrawal (excluded): Kyle McCoy (USA), American Rally Originals; David Pearson (USA), American Rally Originals; Lawrence Ace Nilson (USA), Duust Rally Team. Withdrew: Ricky Brabec (USA), Monster Energy Honda, 9:42:49; Paul Neff, American Rally Originals, 61:36:48; James Pearson, American Rally Originals, 134:55:21; Mason Klein (USA), BAS world KTM Racing Team, 41:42:34.

Quad

Stage 13 winner: Marcelo Medeiros (BRA), Taguatur Racing Team, 2:55:48

General rankings: 1. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing, 54:53:18; 2. Francisco Moreno Flores (ARG), Dragon, 55:33:38; 3. Pablo Copetti (USA), Del Amo Motorsports, 56:55:04.

T3 lightweight prototype

Stage 13 winner: Mitch Guthrie (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 2:41:08

General rankings: 1. Austin “A.J.” Jones (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 50:31:59; 2. Seth Quintero (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 51:26:29; 3. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL), Grally Team, 52:05:27. U.S. notable: 23. Mitch Guthrie, Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 78:15:38.

T4 SSV

Stage 13 winner: Eryk Goczal (POL), Energylandia Rally Team, 2:35:13

General rankings: 1. Rokas Baciuska (LTU), Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team, 51:41:34; 2. Eryk Goczal (POL), Energylandia Rally Team, 51:44:58; 3. Marek Goczal (POL), Energylandia Rally Team, 52:04:35.

Truck 

Stage 13 winner: Martin Macik (CZE), MM Technology, 3:02:43

General rankings: 1. Janus Van Kastren (NLD), Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco, 52:38:58; 2. Martin Macik (CZE), MM Technology, 53:55:40; 3. Martin Van Den Brink (NLD), Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco, 55:22:01.


PAST RECAPS

PROLOGUE: Mattias Ekstrom leads Audi charge

STAGE 1: Ricky Brabec opens with victory; Carlos Sainz keeps Audi on top

STAGE 2: Mason Klein continues U.S. surge in bikes

STAGE 3: Brabec is eliminated by crash as inclement weather shortens stage

STAGE 4: Mason Klein, Skyler Howes overcome adversity

STAGE 5: Skyler Howes moves into overall lead in bikes

STAGE 6: Disastrous day for Audi as crashes eliminate contenders

STAGE 7: Americans excel in T3 light prototype

STAGE 8: Mason Klein, Skyler Howes keep U.S. riders at front

STAGE 9: Carlos Sainz forced to abandon event after another crash

STAGE 10: Sebastien Loeb wins third consecutive stage

STAGE 11: Skyler Jones, Austin Jones in overall leads

STAGE 12: Toby Price takes overall bike lead

SKYLER HOWES’ SPIRITUAL QUEST: American rider takes a gratifying road to overall lead

U.S. EXCELS IN ‘OLYMPICS OF OFF ROAD’: American T3 drivers stay on charge for Red Bull

AUDI CONTROVERSY: Electric hybrids given power boost

CARRYING THE FLAGU.S. drivers and riders in the 2023 Dakar Rally

Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi bring their storied rivalry to a new level at Rolex 24

Ganassi Penske Rolex 24
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – To measure the impact of Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi squaring off for the first time in overall sports car wins (starting at the Rolex 24), look at the auto racing titans’ lineups.

There are 12 combined drivers across four entries representing Chip Ganassi Racing (competing as Cadillac Racing) and Team Penske (as Porsche Penske Motorsport) in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona.

And with the possible exception of six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, none of those behind the wheel is as famous and accomplished as the U.S. motorsports icons who will be sitting atop the pit stands at Daytona International Speedway.

In the NTT IndyCar Series, Penske and Ganassi are synonymous with success, having combined for 23 Indy 500 victories and 30 championships. They also competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for two decades with several signature wins for each.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

Until now, the rivalry never extended to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where they competed in different classes from 2018-19 and have competed in the top category in differing times over the years.

But the 2023 season opener at Daytona will mark the beginning of a new era in which Ganassi and Penske will compete for sports car overall victories on two continents. A Ganassi Cadillac Racing V-LMDh and Porsche Penske Motorsports Penske 963 will run full time in both the premier prototype divisions of IMSA and the European-based World Endurance Championship – whose crown jewel is the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Having two of the world’s biggest sports car races welcome the Ganassi-Penske battle seems only fitting in a season in which IMSA’s new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class is expected to introduce a stiffer level of competition.

“We obviously like beating each other,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “I think if you beat Penske, you know you’ve beaten someone. You’ve accomplished something great. It’s going to be the same as always. Just another platform at another track, but the rivalry will be just as heated I’m sure.

“On one hand, he’s always the first guy to call us out for a penalty or something. On the other hand, he’s also the first guy to congratulate me on a win, so I think it’s a healthy rivalry, but we certainly pound each other’s heads into the ground on race day. Monday through Friday it switches to more of a good relationship.”

After starting his career in sports cars, Penske also is looking forward to having a new arena to race Ganassi.

“There is a lot of anticipation and excitement about the Rolex 24 and the upcoming sports car season overall,” Penske said in a statement to NBC Sports statement. “With the new hybrid prototype formula ready to make its debut, and some great competition expected on the track between teams, drivers and manufacturers, there is a lot of momentum building right now. Porsche Penske Motorsport is excited to compete in both the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship, this season and I can’t wait to see the No. 6 and No. 7 Porsche 963s in action at Daytona this weekend. We also look forward to bringing some new rivalries and storylines to the sport.

Roger Penske confers with Chip Ganassi before the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images).

“In the new IMSA GTP class, there should be a good competitive balance between Porsche, Cadillac, Acura and BMW. We have seen how the rivalry between Team Penske and Ganassi Racing has developed in the NTT IndyCar Series in recent years, and that could certainly extend to sports cars as our teams and drivers continue to develop the new formula and push the production on track in both IMSA and WEC. We will see how the competition plays out, starting this weekend, as we always enjoy racing against Chip and his teams.”

Though there have been some fiery moments over the years (Dario Franchitti vs. Will Power, anyone?), Ganassi vs. Penske mostly has been a story of respect between two organizations whose main strengths are people.

“It’s just the depth of the organizations going up against each other,” Ganassi said. “It’s not just he and I. It’s at every level of the organization.

“We’re smaller. I’d like to think we’re a little more nimble. This is all I do is race cars. I don’t have 200 car dealerships or a truck rental company or a transportation company. I just have racing is all I have.”

Heading into Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, here are the thoughts of Ganassi and Penske drivers in the Rolex 24 at Daytona:


Earl Bamber, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “When I grew up as a kid, I remember watching Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske battle each other for many years, obviously following Scott Dixon and his career in IndyCar (Bamber is a New Zealand native like Dixon). And when the opportunity came up to come and race for Chip, it’s a no-brainer. It’s one of those teams you want to drive for in the world. It’s one of the biggest and most successful teams in the world. And then we’ve got Porsche, where I used to drive, with Penske. It’s going to be a phenomenal rivalry over the next couple of years and that rivalry continues between two absolute legends of our sport. Two people who have been the most successful. I hope we can get Cadillac and Chip their first Le Mans win. That’s obviously the ultimate goal for us and beat his old rival, Roger.

“Those two powerhouses of the sport, they definitely raise the bar. You’ve seen it in IndyCar for years and years. One finds something and the next pushes it forward and forward. You’ll see the same in sports car racing. We all saw what Chip Ganassi Racing did back in the day with the GT program. So no doubt we can do the same again. It’s the ultimate highest level of motorsport when it comes to sports car racing, and there’ll be no stone unturned to make sure that we’re winning these races. It will be a really great fight, great for the fans and great for the sport, because both of them love winning.”

Dane Cameron, No. 6 Porsche Penske: “I think anytime you have Chip and Roger come to town to start fighting for wins, it raises the profile of the whole thing. Hopefully it brings a few more eyes to everything. Certainly brings a lot of expectation with it as well, and I also think it reflects really strongly on the championship to show how competitive it is. They respect the championship and challenge, but when they come to town, they come to win for sure.”

Scott Dixon, No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac: “The battle between Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske is always a fierce one. I obviously know it well from the IndyCar side. But I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s impressive to see a lot of the manufacturers that have come in for this battle. I imagine if it’s not from the first race but during the season that Penske and Ganassi will fight it out pretty hard.

“I think the rivalry between Chip Ganassi racing and Penske has always been strong and in a good way. There’s been some battles and the 2010s for me and other drivers when it gets fierce. Some disagreements here and there. But it’s always been a great pure battle, which is what I think these championships are made of and what brings the fans to the track. So I’d sum it up as a very healthy rivalry.”

Alex Lynn, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “Even as a little boy (growing up in England), you knew exactly who Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi were. You knew what their teams represented. For me to represent Chip and his team is a huge honor. I’m extremely motivated to try to add to his legacy and be part of the fabric of this team. I think having the battle between Penske and Ganassi is iconic. Also Porsche and Cadillac as brands, respectively, just adds to the occasion. Makes me smile even thinking about it knowing what we get to represent when the flag drops.”

Felipe Nasr, No. 7 Porsche Penske: “I think it’s fantastic especially because we’re merging the IMSA and WEC Series and giving the opportunity for teams like Penske and Ganassi to fight for overall victories. You look at the history of those teams, they’ve been on top. We always hear it from the IndyCar guys or the NASCAR side, you’re talking two big names in motorsports. You expect nothing but them fighting for wins. For sure Ganassi has strengths, and we have strengths as well. I’m pretty glad I have the opportunity to be representing Team Penske and continue to write history with them and Porsche is a great opportunity.”

Richard Westbrook, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “The chance for the two most famous teams in America to go head to head in the Daytona 24 Hours and also the Le Mans 24 Hours. I expect that rivalry to keep going up more notches.”

Renger van der Zande, No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac: “Obviously, it’s such the big houses of racing in the U.S. Penske and Ganassi are taking it at each other. The rivalry is big. The best of the best. The most famous ones in the U.S.

“Ganassi is part of Cadillac. We’re the race team that runs the factory program for Cadillac. Penske is running it for Porsche, obviously a high brand as well. Those teams have their little rivalry, but they’re working for a bigger company, a bigger brand, which is Cadillac and Porsche. So those two premium brands taking on each other and then two of the best teams in America taking on each other. It’s very simple: Cadillac got the best team in the U.S. and Porsche got the best team in the U.S. So let’s see what happens. It’s going to be a cool fight.”