Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing) prevailed on the eve of the denouement. The championship leader moved up to third in the rally, behind second-placed Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports) and the front-runner, Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who is also his rival for the title. As it stands, their 9-point difference would melt to zero and the tie-breaking mechanism would kick in, crowning the rider with the best season results. In this scenario, they would have one victory apiece (Benavides in the DR40 and Price here), but the Argentinian would have two second places (ADDC and Sonora Rally) and Price just one (Dakar)… So Benavides would be the champion! All this would change if the Argentinian were to slip any further down the standings, which is a problem because the fourth-placed rider, Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda), is just 1′36″ behind him. Sparks will fly in Merzouga!
In Rally2, Bradley Cox (BAS World KTM Racing) seems to have the rally in the bag, while the championship is Romain Dumontier's to lose. The Frenchman, competing for Dumontier Racing, is 16′22″ ahead of his closest pursuer, Paolo Lucci. In Rally3, Richárd Hodola picked up his maiden win. Cheikh-Yves Jacquemain (Africa Rallye Team) is firmly in control of the general standings and Ardit Kurtaj (Xraids Experience) is mathematically assured of the title. Juraj Varga (Motorsport Team) was the man of the hour in the quad race and is in command of the standings, but Laisvydas Kancius, fourth overall, seems ideally placed to claim the title.
Stéphane Peterhansel (Audi Sport) finally opened his season account and moved within 3′49″ of Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing), the new leader of the race after Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) ran into mechanical trouble. Juan Cruz Yacopini (Overdrive Racing), third, continues to cement his third place in the championship, behind the Qatari and the Saudi.
Seth Quintero (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA by BFG) is the virtual T3 championship leader and will now seek to wrap up the season in style with a victory in Morocco, where he leads Marek Goczał (BBR) by 6′52″. João Ferreira (South Racing Can-Am) won the T4 special and is just one stage away from his very first win in the W2RC. Janus van Kasteren (Boss Machinery Team De Rooy) won the T5 stage without making a dent in the overall lead of Martin Macík (MM Technology), but the Dutchman is on track to secure the title.