Ricky Brabec won the final stage Friday of the 2021 Dakar Rally, but the American rider came up just under 5 minutes short of his second consecutive victory in the overall results as Monster Energy Honda teammate Kevin Benavides triumphed.
The Argentinian became the first South American rider to win the Dakar Rally motorbike championship.
Benavides wrapped up the general classification victory by finishing the final stage in second place, 2 minutes and 17 seconds behind Brabec. Matthias Walkner finished third in Stage 12.
Brabec tied Joan Barreda with his Dakar-leading third stage victory this year by winning the 12th and final segment, a 225-kilometer special that returned the rally raid to its original starting point in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“Thank you all for the support, we came here for one thing and one thing only,” Brabec, who became the first American to win Dakar last year, posted on Instagram. “We rode our ass off, made mistakes, learned from them but failed the mission. Let’s settle for the #2. The team did a excellent job and so did all the riders congratulations to my very own teammate Kevin #2022 #upsndowns #wildride.”
Sam Sunderland finished third overall, followed by Daniel Sanders.
Skyler Howes placed fifth overall, tops among privateer riders. The American, who led the overall after Stage 3, placed fourth Friday and tied his best stage finish of the Rally (also taking fourth in Stages 3 and 10).
Benavides won the Dakar Rally despite suffering a broken nose and twisted ankles in a crash during Stage 5, which he won along with Stage 9.
In other divisions:
Cars: Stephane Peterhansel extended his Dakar Rally with his 14th victory, winning by nearly 14 minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah. Two-time Dakar winner Carlos Sainz won the final stage to finish third overall.
Side by side UTVs (SSV)/lightweight/light prototypes: Francisco Lopez Contardo won the general classification in side by sides. Austin Jones, the American who led after Stage 7, finished just over 17 minutes behind in second place overall.
In the lightweight prototype category, Seth Quintero finished fourth overall. The American scored a Dakar Rally-leading six stage victories in 2021.
Quads: Manuel Andjuar won the overall title by more than 33 minutes. Pablo Copetti, an Argentinian who was racing under an American flag this year after training with Jimmy Lewis, won the last stage for his third victory of the rally.
Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov capped a 1-2-3 overall finish for the dominant Kamaz-Master team.
STAGE 1 RESULTS: Carlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories
STAGE 5: Kevin Benavides new leader in bikes
FINAL STAGE VICTORY TALLIES
Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah 5 (Stages 2, 3, 4, 8, 11); Carlos Sainz 3 (Stage 1, 6, 12); Yazeed Al Rajhi 2 (Stage 7, 10); Giniel de Villiers (Stage 5); Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 9)
Bikes: Ricky Brabec 3 (Stage 7, 10, 12); Joan Barreda 3 (Stage 2, 4, 6); Toby Price 2 (Stages 1, 3); Kevin Benavides 2 (Stage 5, 9); Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Stage 8); Sam Sunderland (Stage 11)
Side-by-sides: Francisco Lopez Contardo 6 (Stage 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11); Austin Jones (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Aron Domzala (Stage 4); Khalifa Al Attiyah (Stage 6); Sergei Kariakin (Stage 10); Reinaldo Varella (Stage 12)
Lightweight prototypes: Seth Quintero 6 (Stage 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 11); Cristina Gutierrez Herrero 3 (Stage 1, 7, 9); Kris Meeke 2 (Stage 4, 12)
Quads: Alexandre Giroud 3 (Stage 1, 6, 8); Pablo Copetti 3 (Stage 2, 10, 12); Nicolas Cavigliasso 2 (Stage 3, 5); Manuel Andujar 2 (Stage 4, 7); Giovanni Enrico 2 (Stage 9, 11)
Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 4 (Stage 1, 2, 4, 7); Martin Macik 3 (Stage 9, 10, 12); Anton Shibalov 2 (Stage 8, 11); Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 3); Andrey Karginov (Stage 5); Airat Mardeev (Stage 6)