German Sebastian Bühler shows big in the second Dakar stage in Saudi Arabia and finishes second behind Mason Klein – Matthias Walkner also in the top 10

The second stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia was won by Mason Klein after more than five hours of driving. The KTM rider thus also took the lead in the overall standings. Sebastian Bühler, the only German in the top motorbike class, rode his Hero to second place for the day.

After the participants had spent the past few days at the “Sea Camp” on the Red Sea, they headed inland to Al’Ula on Monday. 590 kilometres were on the programme. The rated special covered 431 kilometres.

The terrain was varied. It went through stony canyons, but also over smaller dune belts. As it had rained heavily in this region in the past few days, deep ruts formed, which the later starters could orientate themselves on.

Ricky Brabec opened the day, but it was clear that the Honda rider would lose time. On the first 230 kilometres – about halfway – he already lost more than ten minutes. Instead, an outsider drove himself into the limelight.

Dakar rookie Michael Docherty, who rides a Husqvarna in the Rally2 class, stole the show from the professionals in the RallyGP class. The South African led the virtual classification after 105 and also after 150 kilometres.

A tricky section was around kilometre 120, where there were several crashes. James Hillier (GasGas), who normally races at the Isle of Man TT, was also hit. The Briton injured his left shoulder in the crash, but he continued the race.

A long-distance duel for the virtual lead developed. After 186 kilometres, Daniel Sanders (GasGas) held the lead by just under half a minute from Docherty. The Hero team was also riding strong again. Bühler was third at this point.

Sanders goes off the gas, Klein triumphs

At the front of the peloton, a group formed with the KTM trio of Toby Price, Klein and Kevin Benavides, as well as Brabec, who together opened up the rest of the route. It was a very difficult and physically demanding stage.

At the second refuelling stop at kilometre 269, Sanders led the intermediate classification by three minutes ahead of Docherty. Sanders had started sixth in the morning and Docherty 29th – almost an hour after the first starter Brabec. That was an advantage for the rookie.

Even with 120 kilometres to go, Sanders led the intermediate classification by a little more than three minutes ahead of Price and Docherty. But things changed in the final section. Docherty lost quite a bit of ground by kilometre 348 and finished in 17th place.

And Sanders deliberately let off the gas at the end in order not to have to open tomorrow’s stage. Thus, the US-American Klein celebrated the first stage win of his career. Last year, Klein was the best motorbike rookie.

One minute behind, Bühler took second place, the best daily result of his Dakar career. Third place went to Skyler Howes on a Husqvarna. Despite the long riding time, the time gaps were close together.

Matthias Walkner (KTM) lost four minutes to Klein on Monday. This put the Austrian in tenth place in the day’s results. In the overall standings, Walkner holds a ninth place. Bühler is the new tenth.

Tomorrow, the stage continues eastwards from Al’Ula to Ha’il. The third stage covers 669 kilometres. In time 447 kilometres have to be mastered.

Result of the 2nd stage (Top 10):

01 Mason Klein (KTM) – 5:23:04 hours
02nd Sebastian Bühler (Hero) +1:09 minutes
03rd Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) +1:13
04th Ross Branch (Hero) +1:58
05 Toby Price (KTM) +2:16
06 Joan Barreda (Honda) +2:32
07 Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) +3:10
08 Kevin Benavides (KTM) +3:20
09 Daniel Sanders (GasGas) +3:24
10th Matthias Walkner (KTM) +4:06

Overall classification after 2 of 14 stages (Top 10):

01. Mason Klein (KTM) – 9:38:26 hours
02nd Toby Price (KTM) +1:41 minutes
03 Joan Barreda (Honda) +2:03
04 Kevin Benavides (KTM) +2:25
05 Daniel Sanders (GasGas) +2:55
06th Ricky Brabec (Honda) +4:21
07 Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) +5:11
08 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) +5:16
09 Matthias Walkner (KTM) +8:18
10th Sebastian Bühler (Hero) +8:34