Argentinian rider Kevin Benevides has shocked the rally world by announcing his switch from the reigning Dakar champs Honda to KTM with immediate effect.
Kevin Benavides and KTM announced this week that he has joined the ultra-successful KTM rally team with the hopes of adding to KTM’s impressive cross-country rallies win sheet. Benavides, who is the 2021 Dakar champion and arguably one of rally’s hottest properties, signed on to race for the Austrian outfit in a bid to compete for the World Championship title and to defend his Dakar victory.
“I feel so excited to join the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team, it’s a big, big change for me, Benavides says.
“As Dakar champion the move is an important new chapter in my racing career. I have always been a fan of KTM bikes, of Red Bull, and of how the team is organized – I truly believe that it’s the best choice for me to further my racing and to be able to challenge for more Dakar wins and the World Championship title. I have always enjoyed taking on new challenges in my life and I’m really looking forward to getting to know the team, the bike, and pushing myself even harder. The plan, after my first visit to the factory in Austria, is to head out to Dubai and get some time on the bike, and with the team. The goal for this year is to try and adapt to the bike as quickly as possible and get to know all the people in the new team so that I feel comfortable and can concentrate on my riding. I hope to be able to continue my own training program – I like to spend as much time on the bikes as possible, including the rally bike but also motocross and enduro, too. Looking ahead to next year, the ultimate goal would be to win back-to-back Dakars. I have already been lucky enough to be a factory supported rider in enduro years ago, so to now be back on a KTM and in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rally team is a dream and a real honor. I’m really thankful for the opportunity and can’t wait to get racing!”
The Argentinian began his racing career in enduro, finishing fourth in the FIM Junior Enduro World Championship just under 10 years ago, followed by numerous national championship victories. Benavides switched his attentions to rally in 2015 and has since won a number of prestigious rally events. Most notably he was runner-up in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in 2017, and enjoyed a second-place finish at the Dakar in 2018 before claiming victory this year.
Benavides adds extra power to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s dynamic Dakar-winning line-up and will benefit from the team’s vast experience, with their incredible 18 Dakar wins since 2001. Kevin’s outright speed, experience, and hunger for future victories compliments the team’s ethos and vision, and he will begin a program of testing and familiarization with the KTM 450 RALLY machine.