Stage nine win for Luciano Benavides at 2023 Dakar Rally

Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides has topped day nine of the Dakar Rally. Securing his second stage win of the 2023 event, the Argentinian delivered a masterclass 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 will now open Wednesday’s 624-kilometre stage 10 from Haradh to Shaybah.

Starting two places ahead of his teammate, 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 the American was soon caught by Benavides, and from there the two pushed hard toward the refuelling stop and then on to the finish. Skyler retains his lead in the overall standings and will have the opportunity to chase down the second-placed rider on tomorrow’s stage 10.

Luciano Benavides: “I’m really happy. 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. Now I am opening the stage tomorrow, so it will be full gas all the way to the finish.”

Skyler Howes: “The stage today was pretty tricky. We hit a section where we were missing one waypoint and it was in a place deep with stones and a lot of mud. It was tough to navigate through there and I knew we were going off the CAP heading a little, so I had to circle around to get back on track. Luciano caught up with me then and riding together we really put the charge on, partly because I thought I had lost a lot more time than I had. We did a good job all the way from the refuelling to the finish. The ground out there was incredible – there’s been so much rain, in some places it was like riding through giant rivers. It’s been a challenging day and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come as we make our way to the end.”

2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 9 Provisional Classification

1. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:18:44
2. Toby Price (KTM) 3:19:46
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:21:41
4. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 3:24:56
5. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:26:37
6. Toni Mulec (Husqvarna) 3:27:30

2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 9]

1. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 33:55:57
2. Toby Price (KTM) 33:56:00
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 34:01:06
4. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 34:11:37
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 34:14:21
6. Mason Klein (KTM) 34:14:39

7. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 34:17:32