45th Dakar Rally Wraps Up After Epic Two Weeks

Published On:: 2023-02-06

16 days, 8549 kilometres, 1400 race vehicles and thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears - the 2023 Dakar Rally is complete.

16 days, 8549 kilometres, 1400 race vehicles and thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears - the 2023 Dakar Rally is complete.

The world’s most iconic endurance race lived up to its pre-event billing as the most gruelling in recent memory with a savage coast-to-coast expedition in Saudi Arabia that saw the competitors tested to the max.

There was no condition or element they didn’t have to battle through to reach the finish line in Dammam, and not everyone who started the race finished it, but no fewer than four of the top 10 in the bike category did so with the M-claw on their helmet.

The highest finisher was Dakar veteran Pablo Quintanilla, competing in the race for the 11th time, who was consistently fast throughout the rally to finish in P4 overall, just under 14 minutes behind the medal places.

Despite not taking the victory he hoped for, Pablo was still happy with his work after a tough couple of weeks; “I am quite happy to be able to finish this Dakar Rally 2023 in Saudi Arabia. 


“Of course this was not the result we were searching for but the feeling is good. I know that I gave one hundred percent every day so I just want to say I am thankful for all the support from the team and this doesn’t go only to the Dakar - it is a year long job. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t - it’s part of the race. ”


Less than 90 seconds separated Quintanilla from Honda Racing team-mate Adrien Van Beveren, who was grateful to come through the 14 epic stages unscathed.


“It’s good to be at the finish, I have to be happy even if this is not a dream result,” said Van Beveren.


“To finish the Dakar Rally is always a victory and now I remember other times where I could finish due to crashes when I was at the hospital looking at the other guys on TV. We had a really strong race, I have to remember that.”


The team were rocked by an early withdrawal by 2020 race winner Ricky Brabec after a huge crash during Stage 3, but Nacho Cornejo ensured that all three of the finishing racers ended up in the top 10 by securing an 8th place finish.

Nacho was unlucky to face some difficulties during the final stage but his strong performances throughout the race were enough to bring home a solid result.


“So here we are at the finish line this year, I am happy to reach the end of this Dakar Rally. This one was for sure one of the hardest ones I have ever raced. The result was not what I expected, but I know I did my best at every stage. Now I want to thank the team, family and my fans for all the support.”


Rounding off the top 10 was Hero Motorsport’s Franco Caimi, who enjoyed a strong first rally with the team and again showed his credentials as a world class racer; “I'm elated to be here at the end of Dakar 2023. Really happy for the team and for myself – we have struggled to reach this finish line. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been supporting us from close or from far - we've really felt your energy over the last few weeks, and I appreciate that.”


And finally, Ross Branch. The Botswana-born rider has overcome huge obstacles to even line up at the Dakar but he delivered not one, but two stage victories for the team and his P14 finish doesn’t reflect what an impressive performance he put in.


Speaking after the rally, he said, “It has been a long one, and we had to work a lot harder this time!


“I had a tough time in the first week, but I'm happy to go back with two stage wins - so overall it turned out to be an incredible race. It was really tough and exceptionally hard on us and the bikes, but the team has been incredible! I'm really happy that we've taken some good steps in the right direction.”

The race was the first event of the 2023 World Rally Raid World Championship, with the next race taking place in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of March.


For now, the teams, athletes, organisers and even the machinery will take a well-earned break and recharge their batteries after what has been a truly extraordinary rally. 


The 45th edition of the world’s most famous race is now officially in the books, and it will last long in the memory.