“It’s like the World Cup and defining penalties against France”he had foreseen Kevin Benavides upon arrival in Shaybah, at the end of stage 12. And the projection of him came true. And boy is he satisfied. The penultimate stage was won by the Argentine rider, who with this partial victory was only 12 seconds behind the new leader of the Dakar motorcycle category, Toby Price.
“This race is incredible. Suffice it to say that we have already covered more than 8,000 kilometres, spent more than 43 hours racing and are only 12 seconds behind. Unimaginable, but here we are”commented the rider from Salta with amazement and pride, who knows he is one step away from winning his second great victory in the Dakar and repeating what he achieved here in Saudi Arabia two years ago.
And there was Kevin, hinting at his similarities to the World Cup which took place right here, in Qatar, where the competitors crossed the border between the two countries.
“I went out to push as hard as possible. But at kilometer 45 I found Matthias (Walkner) who was lying down, with a lot of back pain. I was very nervous. It’s the kind of coup we don’t want to happen. But I stayed until the doctors arrived. And then I tried to concentrate, it’s not easy because you go through a very bad situation and you have to concentrate again. But I tried to do my best,” explained the man from Salta in an extreme situation, knowing that it was later indicated that Walkner may have fractured a vertebra.
In the morning there were moments of confusion in Al Hofuf, where the Dakar camp was set up. The stage was won by Luciano, the younger brother of the Benavides. But the Husqvarna rider was penalized for passing a speed check more than allowed. And this caused the sum of one minute.
Then there was speculation that Kevin was the new winner of the penultimate stage. The organization had to deduct the time he stopped to help Walkner, the injured driver he found on the road. And finally, the discount landed him as the stage winner, already a dozen seconds behind Price.
Argentinian music plays over speakers in the camper shared by brothers Kevin and Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) during their 20-day stay at the Dakar camp.
And the football climate seems to infect the pilots of Salta: “It’s for honor. You have to accelerate as much as possible. It will be difficult but not impossible. It’s the best time to listen: ‘We got excited again’, because I’m trying to win of course”.
Kevin smiles. He knows he feels strong about the definition. He did a Dakar from minor to major, dominating the scene, controlling the strategies to manage when he had to open the specials and when not, based on his partial results.
“I need everyone’s strength. I want to receive the best energy to seek victory. But let no one doubt that we will try.”harangued the man from Salta, who maintains communication with his fans through social networks.
“Come, I’ll eat you!”Benavides joked when asked what he would have said to Price if he was like him. Dibu Martínez. “The race was very tough, very physical, extreme. The hardest since the race in Saudi Arabia. So there’s no need to speculate on anything for the latest special. Which despite being short, can reserve surprises ”, she highlighted.
And in this worldwide euphoria, which prompted the Benavides to paint helmets and boots with Argentinean flags, the conversations also often refer to the soccer field, all the more so considering that most of the members of the Dakar camp are from Franceso jokes are common currency.
“I have a great relationship with Toby. This is a sports competition, nothing more. I respect him as an athlete, he has won the Dakar twice. But tomorrow I want to paint the second star”, highlighted Kevin Benavides, who arrives intact and in great shape for a historic definition in the Dakar world championship.
AL HOFUF, Saudi Arabia. Special delivery
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.