Molly Taylor finished 12th overall in the SSV class in her second Dakar Rally season.
The 2016 Australian Rally Champion had a fortnight of ups and downs, including his being t-boned by a T1 Toyota Hilux on a dune on stage 8.
She and her co-driver Andrew Short were only able to finish 26th on the final 136km special, but it was enough to hold onto the overall standings.
That marked a two-position improvement over what Taylor finished in her debut campaign in 2022.
â€œItâ€™s been a pretty wild two weeks,â€ she said after stepping out of her South Racing Can-Am at the finish in Dammam.
â€œMany downs, but also many ups along the way.â€
Rookie Eryk Goczal won the title in 16:44 in his Energylandia Can-Am.
â€œI blew my heart out,â€ said the Pole.
“At kilometer 30 we got a big shock and I hurt my left hand.
â€œThis is the first time I have to ride with one hand.
â€žIt was painful, but I did my best, weâ€™re on the finish line… Today is a real team win…â€œ
After six years of Kamaz dominance, the Russian team’s absence from Dakar 2023 opened the door for a new truck champion and it would be Janus Van Kasteren (Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco) who would raise his hand.
Although the Dutchman lost almost an hour on the 4th stage, he took the overall lead for the first time on the 10th stage and didn’t relinquish it afterwards.
Martin Macik (MM Technology Iveco) was second, more than an hour back, with Martin Van Den Brink (Eurol Team De Rooy Iveco) completing the podium.
However, it was a race marred by tragedy the death of an Italian spectator on the 9th stage.
Turns out he was accidentally run over by Ales Loprais (Instaforex Loprais Praga).
The Czech was unaware that he had even beaten the spectator who was taking a picture from behind a dune until he was told in the bivouac that night.
As a result, he would withdraw from the event, giving up the lead and with it a chance of winning.
In the quads, Frenchman Alexandre Giroud (Yamaha Racing – SMX – Drag’on) became the back-to-back winner with a 43-11 advantage over Argentina’s Francisco Moreno Flores (Dragon Yamaha).
A consistent Austin Jones won big in the Lightweight Prototype, finishing the rally 52:05 ahead of fellow BFG driver Seth Quintero’s Red Bull Off-Road Jr Team USA.
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