Kevin Benavides from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing testing in Merzougha for Rally Dakar 2023, Morocco on October 23, 2022.
© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool
Rally Raid

Red Bull Desert Wings gear up for bigger, tougher and rougher 2023 Dakar

It’s time to head back to the dunes of Saudi Arabia for motorsport’s toughest test of endurance racing, the one and only Dakar Rally!
Written by Tim Sturtridge
6 min readUpdated on
The Red Bull Desert Wings squad preparing to push themselves to the limit at the 2023 Dakar Rally include serial champions and fresh-faced talents looking to make their mark on the sands of Saudi Arabia.
The most fierce opponent anyone will face at the Dakar is the route itself – there will be nothing easy about the fourth edition of the rally to be hosted by Saudi Arabia. A Prologue Stage gets things underway on December 31 in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea. Then comes 5,000 racing kilometres spread over 14 timed special stages before the chequered flag falls at Dammam on the Arabian Gulf on January 15.
It’s the longest Dakar route since 2014, loaded with more dunes and potential pitfalls than we’ve witnessed since the rally’s relocation to the Middle East. Here are the racers, and their machines, ready to step up to the challenge of representing the Red Bull Desert Wings at the 2023 Dakar…
01

Cars

When looking at the contenders in the T1 Car Class the only place to start is Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT). Alongside co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA), the Qatari won the Dakar in 2022 and also the inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship. Al-Attiyah returns to Saudi Arabia behind the wheel of his Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ aiming for a fourth Dakar victory.
Nasser Al-Attiyah testing in Merzougha for Rally Dakar 2023, Morocco on October 23, 2022

Reigning Dakar champ Nasser Al-Attiyah

© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

We’re ready to defend our title. It would be incredible to win again
Also using the Toyota Hilux T1+ will be the race crews of Giniel De Villiers (ZAF)/Dennis Murphy (ZAF) and Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU). The two drivers are at opposite ends of the experience spectrum with 2009 Dakar winner De Villiers gearing up for his 20th Dakar, while Moraes will make his debut at the rally in 2023.
Sébastien Loeb (FRA) finished as runner-up to Al-Attiyah at both the 2022 Dakar and the subsequent World Rally-Raid Championship. The record nine-time WRC title holder now returns in his BRX Prodrive Hunter plus co-driver Fabian Lurquin (BEL) with their eyes firmly fixed on taking the top prize this time around.
Team Audi Sport has overhauled its electrically-charged prototype for its second trip to Saudi Arabia. Looking to fight for victory in the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 will be the three-time Dakar-winning race crew of Carlos Sainz (ESP) and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP).
Joining El Matador Sainz in Team Audi Sport is Monsieur Dakar himself Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), with co-driver Edouard Boulanger (FRA). 14-time Dakar champion Peterhansel once again links up with Sainz plus Mattias Ekström (SWE)/ Emil Bergkvist (SWE) in Audi’s three-pronged assault on the 2023 Dakar.
Carlos Sainz at the 2nd stage of Rallye du Maroc in Al-Ujun, Morocco on October 3, 2022.

Carlos Sainz's Audi RS Q e-tron E2

© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

The objective has to be to fight for the victory
Another Dakar stalwart who has progressed from two wheels to four is Kuba Przygoński (POL). Przygoński maintains realistic ambitions of parking his MINI on the overall podium alongside co-driver Armand Monleon (ESP).
02

Bikes

Spearheading the bike race over the dunes of Saudi Arabia is defending Dakar and FIM World Rally-Raid Championship winner Sam Sunderland (GBR). The British biker represents Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing as he targets a third Dakar victory.
Sam Sunderland from Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing is testing in Merzougha for Rally Dakar 2023, Morocco on October 23, 2022.

Sam Sunderland rides for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing

© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

The 2023 race is looking to be one of the toughest ever and I’m under no illusion as to what that means
Also riding with Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing is Daniel Sanders (AUS) who scored fourth place overall on his Dakar debut in 2021 to finish as the highest-placed rookie. After an injury-hit season, Sanders is getting back up to speed just in time for the biggest race of the year.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are still to taste Dakar bike race victory in Saudi Arabia, which is all the more remarkable considering that they won 18 consecutive editions of the rally before its relocation to the Middle East. Leading the charge to put the KTM 450 Rally bike back on top is two-time Dakar winner Toby Price (AUS).
Also in the saddle for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at the next Dakar are Matthias Walkner (AUT) and Kevin Benavides (ARG). Both of these riders have one Dakar victory on their resume and will be fighting to add a second on the sands of Saudi Arabia.
Toby Price from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing testing in Merzougha for Rally Dakar 2023, Morocco on October 23, 2022.

Toby Price is gunning for his third Dakar title

© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

The terrain in Saudi Arabia makes the rally very fast. Some stages are a sprint to the finish
Among the bike race podium contenders there’s also Štefan Svitko (SVK) on KTM machinery. A runner-up to Price in 2016, Svitko has proved he has what it takes to run with the best.
Mohammed Balooshi (ARE) and Camille Chapelière (FRA) will both be onboard Husqvarna FR 450 RALLY bikes at the 2023 Dakar. Balooshi remains one of the fastest bikers in the Middle East, while Chapelière will look to continue his improving run of results at his third Dakar participation.
03

Side-by-sides

Over in the Side-by-side category of the 2023 Dakar a new collaboration between the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team and Can-Am is set to really shake things up. In the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich we find 20-year-old Seth Quintero (USA) racing a Can-Am Maverick T3 alongside co-driver Dennis Zenz (GER).
Seth Quintero posing for a photo in Dubai for Rally Dakar 2023, UAE on December 6, 2022.

Seth Quintero gears up for the 2023 Dakar Rally

© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

I think we’ve got a really good base and a good shot at winning Dakar this year
Joining Quintero in driving the team’s Can-Am machine is Austin ‘AJ’ Jones (USA) and his co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA). Jones was the overall winner of the T4 race at the last Dakar and finished second the year before. The third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crew of Mitch Guthrie (USA) and co-driver Kellon Walch (USA) will take charge of a T3-M by MCE5 vehicle. This machine is key to the team’s ambition of developing a hybrid vehicle in line with the latest FIA regulations for the 2024 Dakar.
Representing the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team in Saudi Arabia are three more race crews with a great shot at victory. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) and co-driver Pablo Moreno (ESP) take charge of a Can-Am Maverick for the first time at the Dakar.
Cristina Gutiérrez is posing for the photo in Dubai for Rally Dakar 2023, UAE on December 6, 2022.

Cristina Gutiérrez is heading back to the Dakar

© Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

The changes have been big, but I don’t mind change. We’re going to have some fun for sure
Reigning Dakar T3 champions Chaleco López (CHL) and Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) are now team-mates of Gutiérrez. Also part of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team are the crew of Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) as they look to top last year’s third-place result when they join the start line of the T4 category in 2023.
Elsewhere in the T3 pack there’s Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) and co-driver François Cazalet (FRA) plus three-time quad race winner Ignacio Casale (CHL) and navigator Alvaro León (CHL) in what promises to be a fascinating contest.
04

How to watch the Dakar

The Dakar Rally is a notoriously hard race to spectate, understand or even follow from afar – but don't worry, we've got you covered. First off, if you're new to the discipline, dig right into our web series, From Dawn till Dust – an exciting exploration into all things Dakar, created with new fans in mind. Once the rally starts, don't miss a stage – catch Dakar Daily for the absolute latest on what's happening on the race course. You'll get the latest on all the Red Bull Deserts Wings squad plus much, much more. Until then, get some sleep – the world's biggest cross-country rally is almost here!
Download the free Red Bull TV app and watch all the Dakar Rally action on all your devices!

Part of this story

Dakar Rally 2023

The 2023 Dakar Rally was an epic rally-raid adventure over the Saudi Arabian sand dunes – get up to speed with all the action here.

Saudi Arabia

Nasser Al-Attiyah

Nasser Al-Attiyah is the sporting hero of his native Qatar – he's won the Dakar Rally on four occasions while also excelling in skeet shooting.

QatarQatar

Mathieu Baumel

One of the best co-drivers in the world of rally-raid with multiple Dakar Rally and FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies wins with Nasser Al-Attiyah.

FranceFrance

Giniel De Villiers

A former track racer, South Africa's Giniel De Villiers has gone on to become one of the most experienced and successful Dakar Rally drivers ever.

South AfricaSouth Africa

Sébastien Loeb

French driver Sébastien Loeb's domination of the rally-driving world has earned him the nickname of Le Patron, or 'The Boss'.

FranceFrance

Carlos Sainz

Known as 'El Matador', veteran driver Carlos Sainz is a two-time WRC World Champion and one of Spain's greatest ever off-road racers.

SpainSpain

Stéphane Peterhansel

French driver Stéphane Peterhansel is a legend of the Dakar Rally, having won a record 14 titles – six on motorcycles and eight in a car.

FranceFrance

Mattias Ekström

Rallycross star Mattias Ekström is one of the most versatile drivers in motorsports, competing and winning across multiple disciplines.

SwedenSweden

Jakub Przygonski

Poland's Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygoński is best known as a talented rally-raid rider who's successfuly made the switch from two wheels to four.

PolandPoland

Sam Sunderland

Sam Sunderland is a rally raid biker with GasGas Factory Racing. He's also a two-time Dakar winner and a true international star.

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Daniel Sanders

Capable of going very fast for very long stretches of time, Australian rider Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders loves tackling the world’s most unforgiving terrain.

AustraliaAustralia

Toby Price

Australian off-road and enduro motorcycle racer Toby Price has won a host of national championships and is a two-time Dakar winner.

AustraliaAustralia

Matthias Walkner

A former motocross rider, Austria's Matthias Walkner switched to rally-raid in 2015 and just three years later won the legendary Dakar Rally.

AustriaAustria

Kevin Benavides

Winning the Dakar Rally in 2021 made Argentinian rider Kevin Benavides the bike event’s first South American winner – and his second Dakar title in 2023 made him a legend.

ArgentinaArgentina

Štefan Svitko

A hugely experienced enduro champion, Štefan Svitko was the first Slovak to finish on the podium at the legendary Dakar Rally.

SlovakiaSlovakia

Mohammed Balooshi

A skilled motocross and desert rally rider, Mohammed Balooshi was the first Emirati to take part in the legendary Dakar Rally.

United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates

Camille Chapelière

Ambitious rider Camille Chapelière has set his sights on Dakar Rally glory after rising to the very top of the French Sand Championship.

FranceFrance

Seth Quintero

A world champion before he was old enough to legally drive, Seth Quintero is making history at the toughest rally on the planet.

United StatesUnited States

Dennis Zenz

If you need to find your way through stages of the World Rally Championship and the Dakar, then German co-driver Dennis Zenz is your man.

GermanyGermany

Mitch Guthrie Jr.

Following in the footsteps of his famous father, American driver Mitch Guthrie Jr. already has some impressive race wins on his résumé.

United StatesUnited States

Cristina Gutiérrez

A naturally gifted driver, Spain's Cristina Gutiérrez made history in 2021 when she became only the second woman ever to win a Dakar Rally stage.

SpainSpain

Francisco López

A master of the sand dunes, Chile's Francisco López loves nothing more than testing his skills at the famous Dakar Rally.

ChileChile

Guillaume de Mevius

Belgium’s latest cross-country rally star combines speed and smarts to conquer some of the planet’s most perilous terrain.

BelgiumBelgium

François Cazalet

If he’s not working on his farm in the foothills of the Pyrenees, François Cazalet is plotting a route through some of the toughest terrain on the planet.

FranceFrance

Ignacio Casale

One of the very best quad riders in the world, Casale has won the legendary Dakar Rally on three occasions. He's now racing trucks in the desert.

ChileChile