Argentinian Kevin Benavides ( Monster Energy Honda) took the overall win from defending champion and teammate Ricky Brabec after 12 gruelling stages of the 2021 Dakar. In so doing, the 32-year-old becomes the first Argentinian rider to win the motorcycle class of the Dakar. Right at the end, Brabec’s strong ride on Stage 12 ensured the first one-two finish for Honda since Cyril Neveu and Edi Orioli in 1987, making the winged-logo brand’s rally a memorable one!
It was perhaps not his bleached blond hair that made the difference, but Kevin Benavides has changed and has achieved consecration on the Dakar for his fifth participation. After a very noticeable debut on the rally with a finish just at the foot of the podium in 2016, the Argentinean overcame disillusionments, especially in 2018 when the title seemed to be within his grasp until a navigation error proved fatal to his hopes near Salta, his home town.
This year once again, a nasty fall broke his nose and damaged his ankle, but could not stop him from taking control of the category on stage five. Pushed off the leader’s throne the very next day, Kevin was able to bide his time and regained the lead when his team-mate Nacho Cornejo exited the rally prematurely… to win the Dakar, you also need a bit of luck.
The first South American winner in the category then withstood the attacks during a very tense finish, in which Sam Sunderland remained a threat until the last few kilometers of the penultimate stage, as did Ricky Brabec, who finished less than five minutes behind him with strong victory in the final special.
Another rider worthy of mention is American Skylar Howes, a privateer – who improved on his performance last year with a strong fifth place this year! Surely a factory ride awaits for this talented rider in 2022?
Final Standings Dakar 2021