After leaving the shores of the Red Sea on 1 January, 109 riders made it back to Jeddah with 8,000 kilometres under their belts.
With less than three-and-a-half minutes between Sam Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla it was the slimmest margin at the top of the leader board since 1994, when Orioli finished just over a minute ahead of Arcarons. Sunderland back to his winning ways after a drought stretching back to 2017.
In the Original by Motul category for bikers without assistance, the 2022 podium was almost the same as last year’s. Lithuanian Arūnas Gelažninkas retained the title, while the battle-hardened Czech Milan Engel was runner-up and Frenchman Benjamin Melot defended his third place.
How the Aussies fared
Toby Price looks set to play the long game in the 2022 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship this year, having never really recovered from his opening stage navigation issue, which was compounded by a waypoint that failed to register in Stage 11. However, a strong performance in the final stage saw the Australian finish second for the stage to end Dakar 2022 on a high note despite a lowly, for him, tenth place outright. Without those earlier issues Toby would have been well placed to battle for victory, but as they, that’s racing and anything can happen…
Price now looks ahead to the remainder of this year’s FIM World Rally-Raid Championship.
Toby Price – P10 (Stage P2)
“I’m always happy to reach the finish here at the Dakar, it’s been a really tough race this year. Losing time on that first day put me on the back foot a little for the rest of the stages, and the way things are now, any mistakes can lose you a lot of time on the others because things are so close. The terrain here in Saudi makes for a really fast race too, a lot of the stages are sprints to the finish, but the atmosphere is good and it’s a good place to be. I’m excited for 2023 already!”
Toby was the only Aussie to successfully finish the event while countrymen Daniel Sanders and Andrew Houlihan were forced to watch the latter half of Dakar from the sidelines after sustaining injuries.
With two stage wins to his name at this year’s event, Daniel Sanders still unquestionably stamped his mark on Dakar 2022. Sanders was third in the provisional standings up until stage seven when the Aussie fractured his elbow and wrist in a fall on the transport run to the start of the special stage in the dark. He’ll be back at the Dakar in 2023 for another run at the title.
Countryman Andrew Houlihan was forced to withdraw from the event after the fifth stage by medical officials refused him start clearance on the back of his previous rib injuries being dangerously inflamed.
Sam Sunderland and GasGas Factory Racing won the 2022 Dakar Rally after delivering a mature, considered performance, that ended with a measured eighth-place finish in Friday’s final stage, handing the manufacturer their first overall victory at the event at the 44th Dakar Rally.
Sam Sunderland – 2022 Dakar Rally Champion
“Wow. What a feeling! That 10-minute period waiting at the end of the final stage to see if I’d won felt like a lifetime. But this feeling, knowing I’ve won a second Dakar, will stay in my memory forever. This win feels better than the first as this victory was anything but easy. The times were so close this year and there was no time to let off the gas, it was a really close race, right to the end. All of the hard work, the sacrifices, and everything that the GasGas team has done for me makes it all worthwhile. It’s been five years since my first Dakar win, and it’s been a long time to wait! I’m super happy to get another win and claim the first one for GasGas. Everyone on the team has worked so hard to achieve this and it’s a true team effort – together we got the job done. Amazing.”
Leading the race from stage two through to the end of stage six, the Dakar began perfectly for Sam. Riding flawlessly throughout the two-week event, he delivered the goods on multiple occasions when the pressure was well and truly on.
Sam’s second Dakar victory is not just an incredible personal achievement, it also marks the return of the title to the KTM AG Company after Honda wrestled the mantle from their grasp a couple of years ago.
Pablo Quintanilla wins final stage for Honda
Monster Energy Honda Team’s Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla wrapped up the Dakar Rally on Friday in Jeddah with a well-deserved second place. Quintanilla, who started Friday morning in second place in the general standings, 6’52” behind Sam Sunderland, attempted to close the gap over the 150 kilometres of timed special that involved some tricky, fast-paced navigation. Pablo earned the final stage victory, finishing 3’27” short of clinching the outright Dakar 2022 title.
Pablo Quintanilla joined Monster Energy Honda Team last May, finishing on the Andalucía Rally podium in his first outing. Later, in October, he would clinch top honours in the Rallye du Maroc. Today’s runner-up position marks a third finish on the Dakar podium for Quintanilla. Furthermore, Honda took a total of five stage victories (Barreda 2, Cornejo 2, Quintanilla 1) in this edition.
Pablo Quintanilla – P2 (Stage P1)
“I am very happy with the result and my performance throughout the whole race, especially during the second week, which I managed well, making up time with a steady performance. I am very pleased and I wish to thank the whole Monster Energy Honda Team for their incredible work over these weeks. It was a really tough race, with a lot of tension, but I’m happy. Today there was second place at stake and there was even a chance of winning the race. It didn’t turn out that way, but I’m still happy with the second place finish. Now it’s time to enjoy this moment.”
Lying third going in the final day of racing, Matthias Walkner put in a superb performance on Friday’s stage to finish seventh fastest and secure an overall podium result.
Matthias Walkner – P3 (Stage P7)
“I feel super happy and also lucky to be here healthy at the finish line. It feels great to be back on the podium too after a couple of difficult Dakars the past two years. It’s been a super long and hard Dakar as always, but this year has been special because of the level of navigation needed every day. We saw right from the first day that you can win or lose so much time on each stage. Because of that I really tried to focus on my roadbook, and concentrate on my navigation for the whole race. The first week went really well for me, and then into the second week, everyone was pushing really hard, so you had to give your best every day as the times were so close. The new bike has been brilliant, and the team have put so much effort into making sure we had the performance needed to finish on the podium, so thank you to them. Now it’s time to celebrate!”
Equalling his best overall finish at the Dakar, Adrien Van Beveren placed an impressive fourth overall at the 2022 edition of the iconic event. Leading the race on two separate occasions this year and placing no lower than fourth overall throughout the entire rally, the Frenchman was undoubtedly in fine form throughout the competition. Delivering pin-point accuracy with his navigation day-after-day, Adrien delivered one of the stand-out performances in the motorcycle category.
Adrien Van Beveren – P4 (Stage P15)
“The race is over and I have mixed feelings about it, but on the whole it has been a really positive race for myself and the team. I’m really happy to have finished the race, the first time since 2017, so I’m really pleased about that. But on the other hand, it looked certain that I would podium or maybe even take the win. But with the issue yesterday, that’s just part of rally racing and it wasn’t meant to be. I’m really happy for the team. Everyone has worked super hard and my bike was amazing. I have no regrets about anything and I gave it everything that I had. To be fighting for the win at the Dakar, it was an amazing experience and now I’m looking forward to the future.”
Spain’s Barreda, fourth on the final stage, finished fifth overall, equalling the result he achieved in 2017.
Joan Barreda – P5 (Stage P4)
“The result of this Dakar is a fifth place with a broken collarbone from a week ago and after losing 40 minutes at a waypoint on the first day. I’ve kept the mentality and the ambition that I’ve had all year, in spite of the adversities. Not giving up and going all the way to the finish. In racing sometimes things go well and other times not so well. But the important thing for me has been to be able to show all the hard work that’s been done. We’ve been working for seven months for the Dakar, now it’s time to rest a bit and then we’ll think about the new goals, knowing that the ambition and motivation has to be 100%. In this Dakar, every day that I’ve been on the bike I’ve had unique sensations.”
‘Nacho’ Cornejo, third on Friday’s stage, consolidated his sixth place in the final rally classification.
José Ignacio Cornejo – P6 (Stage P3)
“We finished the Dakar with a good stage; I am very happy with this final stage, without any mistakes and marking some good pace. I am satisfied to have finished the Dakar like this, but not in the overall balance, because, although I recovered several positions this last week, the mistake early in the race conditioned the end. I think I should have been further ahead. This year it was our turn to suffer, but we will be back again. The team in general was very solid and I want to congratulate all my team-mates for the great work done these days.”
Brabec took seventh spot overall in this edition of the Dakar.
Ricky Brabec – P7 (Stage P21)
“The last day we tried to push. There was navigation and a lot of rocks. He hoped to make up time and see if someone else stumbled. We didn’t give up until the end. I’m happy and healthy and ready to go home. There was not much else we could do. We tried to come back from an hour down. The first stage killed us. After the first week it was definitely hard to pick up the pieces. We’ll be back next year to try and win this thing. Anything else other than winning is unacceptable. We’re going to come back next year and hopefully try to win.”
If not for a frustrating navigational error on stage one, which affected him as well as many of his rivals, Andrew Short may well have joined Adrien in the top five overall. After losing considerable time early on, the 39-year-old was faultless through the remaining stages at the Dakar as he worked his way up the leaderboard. At the end of 12 stages and almost 40 hours of racing, Andrew secured eighth overall, narrowly missing out on placing seventh by just five seconds.
“I’m so happy to have reached the finish line. The Dakar is such a crazy race that finishing is a great achievement in itself. The final stage was pretty cool, a bit tight a twisty with some nice terrain. Before the rally I hoped to finish higher and it wasn’t through lack of effort – it was solely down to the issue I had on stage one. I did the best I could after that but that’s just how rally is sometimes. The team have been amazing. They built a great bike for me, which didn’t miss a beat all race and I’m happy that we had two guys in the top 10.”
Mason Klein P9 as top rookie
Completing his 2022 Dakar campaign with an excellent fifth-place result on stage 12, KTM-supported privateer Mason Klein not only finished as top rookie, but also claimed an outstanding ninth overall. The 20-year-old American has shown incredible navigation and roadbook skills over the course of this year’s event, as well as the speed to back it up.
Luciano Benavides successfully completed the Rally with a strong performance in 13th overall, claiming sixth fastest on the short timed special.
Luciano Benavides – P13 (Stage P5)
“I’m really happy to complete this year’s Dakar, it’s been a really tough event both mentally and physically. It was hard to lose time on the first stage, but since then I have been giving my all to work my way back up the standings. The bike has been great and with a few changes as the race has gone on, I’ve found a setting I feel comfortable with and because of that the results have been improving throughout the rally. Getting to the finish of such a long and intense event feels amazing. It would have been good to get inside the top 10 by the finish, but I’m still happy with my performance. The result and the finish have really improved my confidence and now I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and seeing what we can do in the world championship, before preparing for Dakar 2023.”
Kevin Benavides showed impressive speed throughout the whole 2022 Dakar Rally. Unfortunately, after suffering a technical issue on stage 10, the Argentinian was forced to withdraw. Returning to complete the final two stages of the race, Benavides was immediately back up to speed, claiming a stage win on day 11 and finished the final stage in P12.
Kevin Benavides – (Stage P12)
“I have enjoyed this final day at the Dakar – I opened the stage, which was great, and it feels good to finally get to the finish. Obviously, it’s frustrating to have had the problem on stage 10, up until that point my race had gone really well, and I believe I had the pace to challenge for the podium. These last two days have shown that, too. There are many positives I can take from this year’s race and I’m really happy with how I rode and navigated through the stages. Part of the Dakar is all about learning and improving and so I’ll take that away from this year and try to come back even stronger in 2023.”
Making not only his Dakar debut, but also his first ever competitive rally-raid appearance at the 2022 Dakar, Danilo Petrucci raised a few eyebrows around the paddock with his consistent display of speed and skill on his Tech3 KTM 450 Rally, including taking a stage win after being unable to finish a stage and being ineligible to be counted in the final standings.
“I am so happy to finally reach the finish line and to complete the goal I set out to do. It’s been a tough time both leading up to the event and the race itself, but to complete my first ever Dakar feels amazing. I’m really happy with my performance but over the last couple of days I have had some crashes and feel quite sore at the moment. Thanks to all the team for their hard work, it has been an amazing experience and one of the hardest things I have ever done.”
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