Results from stage 10 of the 2023 Dakar Rally, the first day of full dune action where sand specialists shone, Hero Motorsports’ Ross Branch took a narrow win from Adrien Van Beveren and Kevin Benavides takes over as the new rally leader.


Dakar ’23 stage 10 in a nutshell:

  • Just like that we’re in double figures for Dakar ’23 stages and seemingly in another country. It has been cold, wet and a very different kind of desert scenario until today when the rally arrived in the sand seas of southeastern Saudi and it feels like another country – certainly the kind of hot desert you expect at this race.
  • Riders had “an appetiser” for the days ahead today, just 114km of endless dunes ahead of a total of 458 raced kilometres in the same conditions over the next two days, which will also be marathon (no outside assistance for riders).
  • After a loooong 467km road section (first departure at 3:30am for a six hour ride!), Luciano Benavides and the two race leaders, Toby Price and Skyler Howes, opened this short special stage.
  • Halfway through the top three were still out front and stacking up bonus points which were eligible for the entire stage today (normally it is up to first refuelling, but the short stage doesn’t have one until it’s finish). 
  • Behind the leading trio, the Rally 2 guys Romain Dumontier and Tosha Schareina were hauling while further back Kevin Benavides and Adrien Van Beveren were the fastest of the factory riders.
  • Michael Docherty was also setting a blinding pace and would go on to finish third overall for hsi best ever stage result. FYI, the HT Rally Raid rider is a former Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge race leader (until he crashed), and lives and trains just across the border, effectively in the same dunes. He should be good here!
  • In the end it was a super close last half of the stage with four riders all setting near identical pace. And it was Ross Branch who just stole the show for the second time this Dakar, winning the stage by just 21 seconds from Honda's Van Beveren. 
  • Navigating is easier in the dunes “because you only need to follow the CAP (bearing)” said Benavides, so riding behind is easier. Crucially the shorter stage meant Howes and Price didn’t lose too much time today overall, seven and eight minutes respectively which will in theory cancel out tomorrow when they start outside the top 15 which can turn the tables. Looking ahead, this could all play out in their favour come Saturday.
  • The beneficiaries today though were K Ben and AVB with the KTM rider now taking over as the new overall leader, 1.29 ahead of Howes and 2.10 over Price third. The Honda rider leads the best of the rest, almost 10 mins adrift with four stages remaining.
  • Docherty’s third on the stage gives him the day win in the Rally 2 class but at four minutes back in P11, Dumontier still leads this W2RC second-tier class.
  • Similarly Charan Moore remains the boss of the Original by Motul (the class for hard nuts) but he had troubles today in the sand. A broken gearbox left him nursing it home around 30 minutes behind the leaders. Second placed overall, Javi Vega gained a couple of minutes over his rival today but the potential 15 minute penalty for replacing the engine/transmission will reduce that 21.40 lead.

When they say Empty Quarter, they mean it...


Stage 10 results:




Overall classification after stage 10 – Rally GP:



Overall classification after stage 10 – Rally 2:



Photo Credit: A.S.O. | Charley Lopez + Julien Delfosse