First look: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes and riders heading to Dakar 2024
First look at the 2024 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 Rally bikes heading to the Dakar in Saudi Arabia, beginning January 5 with Kevin Benavides and Toby Price on the pegs.
As the one-two finishing riders at the 2023 Dakar Rally, separated by less than a minute at the finish let’s not forget, Kevin Benavides and Toby Price have a lot to live up to in Saudi on January 5.
Promising to be even tougher course this time around for the 46th edition, the ’24 Dakar will see Benavides aiming for a rare back-to-back win while Price, arriving for his 10th time, set on making himself a three-times winner.
2023 season was not a kind one for Argentinian Benavides, despite the Dakar win. Injuries including a broken femur forced him to miss several races over the course of the year and a “frustrating” leg injury this month injury while training wasn’t ideal.
But the bikes are dialled thanks to the team effort and Benavides hopes to be close to 100% fit for Dakar and focussed on bringing home the trophy for the second year in a row: “The Dakar means everything to me. This year was special because I won with KTM, and I had the honor of fighting right to the end with my teammate.
“The rest of this year has been really tough. I was full of confidence after my Dakar win, but then breaking my femur early in the season, followed by my wrist later on, meant I didn’t get much race time on the bike at all. Behind the scenes, I was training as hard as I could to rebuild my fitness and mental strength, but it’s been a difficult year, for sure.
“Now, heading into a new year and a new Dakar, I really want to put 2023 behind me and fight for the win once again. I know I have what it takes, we just need to get through it without any setbacks and I should be well in the fight at the end of the race. We’re just a few weeks away from the start and I can’t wait to get going.”
Two wins, a second, and three thirds – Price wants more
Missing out on the 2023 Dakar Rally win by a mere 43 seconds, Toby Price is aiming to clinch his third career victory. Price has also enjoyed a strong ’23 W2RC season, finishing off his year with a win at the Rallye du Maroc and second in the title race despite some shocking bad luck in some races.
2024 marks Toby’s 10th Dakar and he hopes to celebrate that milestone by topping the timesheets at the finish in Yanbu on January 19: “The 2024 Dakar will be my 10th overall and my ninth riding for the KTM factory team. Out of the nine we’ve done together, I’ve managed to podium in six, which is incredible when you think about how tough the race is and how hard it is to even reach the finish.
“I’ve had two first-place finishes, a second, and three thirds – to clinch another win on my 10th attempt would be amazing. Dakar is like no other race. For sure, the riding is hard work, fun, and exhausting, but I love the way everyone comes together to complete the race. Dakar is like my second family, so it’s always good to see everyone, get ready for the race, and get my competitive side back going again. I’m in a good place physically, and the bike is good – we’re definitely ready to race Dakar 2024.”
Unfortunately, Matthias Walkner will miss the 2024 Dakar Rally due to an injury he sustained to his left leg while training in the United States. The 37-year-old received immediate surgery to and will return home to Austria for further surgery once the injury has stabilized ready for rehabilitation.
The 46th edition of the Dakar Rally will be held from January 5-19, 2024, starting in AlUla and concluding two weeks later in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea. In total, competitors will cover close to 8,000km, 5,000 of which will be raced against the clock.
For its fifth year in Saudi Arabia, the 2024 rally is set to include 14 days of racing, including an opening prologue and a 48-hour stage. During the new 48-hour stage, riders will be stopped at 4pm on the first day before heading off again at 7am the next day. The organizers have promised an incredibly challenging race with 60% new terrain and over 5,000km of special stage.
Read our preview of the route here: 2024 Dakar Rally route revealed – new 48hr “Chrono Stage” in the Empty Quarter
Andreas Hölzl – Rally Team Manager: “We’re really looking forward to Dakar – the bikes are ready to go and from a technical point of view, we’re really well prepared. Toby is hugely motivated of course. He had a really strong 2023 season and is in good shape, well trained, and fully focused on Dakar.
“Kevin, although not quite 100 percent after his small crash, also has his sights set firmly on Dakar success. He’s confident and should be close to full fitness by the start of the race in January.
“As a quick update on Matthias, he should be moved to Austria in the next couple of days for further surgery. It is, for sure, a painful injury that will require some time to heal properly. But the team are fully behind him and hope to see him back racing as soon as possible.”
Watch the video preview for the team heading to Dakar – shot before Walkner injured himself (it’s a bit on the cheesy side).
Photo Credit: Sebas Romero