January 9: for most of us it is a normal day, but not for the riders involved in the Dakar 2023. After running 8 of the 14 scheduled stages and over 5,500km of racing, the caravan stops in Riyadh for what is the day of restlong awaited by all. Between slightly “crazy” weather, considering that we are in the middle of the desert, and a path for the most part unpublished, the toughest rally in the world is proving to be so. Of the 135 starting bikes, 29 had to abandon the competition, only 106 made it to the rest day. Many top riders of the caliber of Sunderland and Brabec they withdrew from the race early, also making way for new ambitious promises. David Castera had promised it on the eve of the 2023 edition: “All the changes to the regulation have been approved to improve the safety of the drivers in the race, to mix the cards on the table, but also to favor the bravest and most daring“. Looking at the winners of the individual stages, one can only agree with the rally director. Every day we had a different rider on the top step of the podium, demonstrating the fact that the level in the field is very high and you can never let your guard down.
The first of the two weeks of competition, the longest, has ended; let’s retrace it, highlighting the salient points step by step:
Prologue: is Toby Price the fastest in the short timed trial of 10 km along the coast of the Red Sea, with his KTM he finished ahead of Daniel Sanders just a second behind. Third Ross Branch. Alex Salvini with the Fantic XEF Rally Factory is the best of the Italians.Stage 1: Daniel Sanders wins, but due to a penalty he is forced to leave the top step of the podium to Ricky Brabec on Honda. The first twist is the disastrous fall of Sam Sunderlandwhile he was in command of the special, the World Champion had to say goodbye to dreams of glory. Bad accident also for Tiziano Internò which at km 26 falls over a rock hidden in the middle of the sand.Stage 2: a new star seems to have been born in the rally raid world, Mason Klein shines and wins. The best rookie 2022 takes advantage of the minutes lost by Sanders and takes command of the general. Matthias Walkner on the KTM picked up a wrist injury. The best of the Italian patrol is Paolo Luccifirmly around the 20th position. Stop Alex Salvini due to mechanical problems to his Fantic. Tommaso Montanari withdrew due to a bad fall.