To be the best, you need to put all the right elements together. That’s likely why the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team just signed reigning Dakar Rally champion Kevin Benavides in April, 2021. Throughout the remainder of the year, he’ll be contesting the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Then, in January, 2022, he’ll ride KTM for the next running of the Dakar Rally.
“My heart was always orange,” Benavides said in a statement. “I started with KTM Argentina in 2008 and always used KTM bikes until 2015. Back home in Salta [Argentina] I have a KTM dealership and now I’m a KTM Factory rider… it’s like everything has come together.”
While he’s clearly very good at rally raids, Benavides started out as an enduro guy. Like a lot of successful racers in all motorcycle disciplines, he started quite young. Benavides says he was just three years old the first time he got on a motorcycle, and he hasn’t wanted to stop ever since. Where have we heard that before?
“I’ve always felt that I was born to do something important with my life,” Benavides continued. “I’ve always believed in myself, and I work hard every day to put my name in history. Winning the Dakar was the biggest achievement of my life so far. I made history as the first winner from Argentina and South America.”
If you’ve paid any attention to Dakar in the past 20 or so years, you know that the Red Bull KTM Factory Team has won a lot. 18 times between 2001 and 2019, to be exact. In signing Benavides to a contract, it’s very clear that the team is not playing with its chances at regaining the top step of the podium in 2022. Will they succeed? Looks like we’ll have to watch the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship through 2021 to get a better idea of what we can expect.