And it was Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides (pictured) who topped day nine of the Dakar Rally.
Securing his second stage win of the 2023 event, the Argentinian delivered a master class of rally racing, only dropping to second for a short distance before powering his FR 450 Rally home to post the fastest time. The result moves Benavides from 11th to seventh.
On a tough day at the Dakar, with difficult navigation and challenging terrain, Husqvarna Factory Racing excelled with both riders completing the special inside the top three.
It was Benavides, setting off 21st into the stage that came out on top. The number 77 focused carefully on his road book and didn’t make the same mistakes as many of his rivals to lead the timesheets for the majority of the 358 kilometres raced against the clock.
Happy with his result, his performance, and the feel of his machine, Luciano Benavides will now open the 624-kilometre stage 10 from Haradh to Shaybah.
Starting two places ahead of his team-mate, American Skyler Howes also put in a great ride to secure a third-place result.
Losing a couple of minutes while trying to find one particular waypoint meant that Howes was soon caught by Benavides, and from there the two pushed hard toward the refuelling stop and then on to the finish.
Howes retains his lead in the overall rally standings.
“I’m really happy,” said Luciano Benavides. “I cannot believe I won again, and to be the first rider at this Dakar to win twice feels incredible.
“It was a really hard stage with a lot of navigation – you really had to focus on your road book to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes. There were a lot of broken tracks and different lines, so it was easy to take a slightly wrong line.”
It’s interesting to note that Benavides’ brother, Kevin Benavides (KTM), is running third overall in the event after stage nine.
Rider standings after 9 of 14 stages:
- Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 33:55:57
- Toby Price (KTM) 33:56:00
- Kevin Benavides (KTM) 34:01:06
- Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 34:11:37
- Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 34:14:21
- Mason Klein (KTM) 34:14:39
Photo courtesy Husqvarna
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