Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides has put in another strong ride in Mexico, steering his FR 450 Rally to eighth place on a shortened second stage of the 2023 Sonora Rally. Unfortunately, Benavides’ teammate Skyler Howes crashed around the 18-kilometre mark and was forced to withdraw from the stage with a shoulder injury.
Leading riders north to Puerto Peñasco on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, the timed special on stage two of the Sonora Rally was cut short from 286 kilometres to just 162 due to safety reasons. Benavides was the eighth rider to enter the stage early this morning and knew that with the distance raced against the clock being reduced, he would have to push hard right from the start in order to make up ground on those ahead of him.
Despite times being especially close over the entire top 15 riders, Luciano was able to maintain a solid pace over the varied terrain to increase his position on the timesheets. By kilometre 134, the Argentinian was lying sixth, just one minute and 47 seconds behind the leader. However, with bonuses awarded to the top three riders for leading out today’s stage, on corrected time at the chequered flag, Benavides ultimately placed eighth, just over five minutes down.
The result sees Luciano remain in fifth position in the provisional overall standings, six minutes and 49 seconds back from the leader. With Wednesday’s stage three delivering the longest special of the event at 350 kilometres, Benavides will be looking to make the most of his strong start position and in turn move himself up the leaderboard.
Suffering a crash early on in the timed special at around kilometre 18, Skyler Howes was forced to withdraw from the stage with a shoulder injury. The 2022 Sonora Rally winner will unfortunately play no further part in this year’s event. Husqvarna Factory Racing wishes Skyler all the best for a fast recovery.
Luciano Benavides: “It was a crazy stage with a lot of broken pistes, which made it really tricky to judge in places. I made a few small mistakes where I lost a little bit of time, and I had three crashes as well, which thankfully were quite small. I struggled to find my rhythm today, but the result is still ok, and I'm in a good place in the overall. I'm fit, healthy, and motivated for the three days still to come."
2023 Sonora Rally – Stage 2 Provisional Classification
1. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:28:08
2. Tosha Schareina (Honda) 1:29:23
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 1:30:26
4. Toby Price (KTM) 1:31:07
5. Ross Branch (Hero) 1:32:18
6. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 1:32:29
8. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 1:33:30
2023 Sonora Rally – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 2]
1. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:46:59
2. Tosha Schareina (Honda) 3:47:20
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:51:15
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:51:55
5. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:53:48
6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:54:04