Dakar news: Benavides handed time back and David Castera is new Rally Director 

2019 Dakar Rally time penalty confusion continues as Kevin Benavides’ time penalty is quashed – meanwhile David Castera becomes the new Dakar Director.


The dust from the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru has been stirred up again with news that Honda Rally rider Kevin Benavides has been promoted back to fifth overall in the official results. 

The Monster Energy Honda rider was issued a whopping three-hour time penalty ahead of stage eight (at the same time Sam Sunderland was also docked an hour – which he also saw later erased) due to additional course notes on his bike. 

A statement issued by the Honda Rally Team states: “The Tribunal National de Discipline et d’Arbitrage (arbitration panel of the French Federation of Motorcycling), ruled in favour of the Argentinean, outlining that Kevin Benavides had in no way violated race rules. Paragraph 3 of Article 17P2 had been replaced with a new paragraph, dated January 8th 2019 at 18:30, with an additional text also added on January 15th, indicating “the prohibition of adding additional notes on the motorcycle, in the rider’s kit or on any part of his body or any other means of support”, which was published after the rider had already received the 3-hour sanction.”

During the Dakar the three-hours stacked onto Benavides’ time dropped him down to 12th overall. 

Erasing those three hours puts Benavides up to fifth in the official 2019 Dakar results, bumping Andrew Short to sixth with Xavier de Soultrait now seventh and so on.

Revised 2019 Dakar Rally bike class overall top 10 results:


Dakar Rally 2019 overall top10 results Enduro21


David Castera back in charge as Dakar Director

If all this time penalty confusion sounds like it could do with a tighter rein from race direction then perhaps the new Course Director, David Castera, will be the person to take hold. 

Frenchman Castera will be the new Course Director for the Dakar Rally in 2020 with his predecessor, Etienne Lavigne, moving on to take another position within organising body, ASO.

David Castera is a veteran in the Dakar Rally having participated on a bike originally, holding the sporting director role and later competing again as a car co-driver. 

Castera raced the bike class from 1994 until 1998 with a best (and highly respectable) third position in 1997. He went on to take the Sporting Director role for nine years until Marc Coma took on that role as the event swung deep into South America. 

Castera gave racing another shot as Cyril Despres’s and then Stephane Peterhansel’s co-driver, but he had to abandon his position with Peterhansel on stage nine last year due to a back injury. Castera was also been the director of the Rally of Morocco in 2018 which is part of the World Rally Championship. It is unclear if he will continue this role but it seems unlikely.


Castera Dakar director Lavigne Enduro21 560


Etienne Lavigne’s 15-year reign as director comes to an end with some confusion and speculation about the Dakar’s future in South America. The failure of the negotiations with different South American governments almost prevented the rally running in 2019 until Peru stepped up as host nation.

At time of writing a serious question mark hangs over the race competing in South America in 2020. This has fuelled talk about the Dakar moving to the Middle East, Asia or even back to North Africa. 

It was Etienne Lavigne who sparked rumours when he stated that he wanted a three-country race again. With the new director of the Dakar Rally, Castera, being so familiar with North Africa government in Morocco at least it looks like this idea has some basis. 

If confirmed Castera surely has a lot of work on his hands to set up the rally back in North Africa again or indeed a completely new location.


Photo Credit: Monster Energy Honda Rally Team/A.S.O
Words credit:
Jon Pearson/Igor Aguado