Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes and Luciano Benavides return to FIM World Rally-Raid Championship competition this weekend with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. With just under six weeks passing since the Dakar where Skyler placed third overall and Luciano picked up three stage wins on his way to sixth, the duo are brimming with confidence and excited to be back in action.
Round two of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, takes place not too far away from where Howes and Benavides enjoyed so much success last month. The race will be held over very similar terrain to that found at the Dakar with the entire race contested in the wide expanse of sand dunes of the Liwa Desert. Both riders are confident of maintaining their impressive early-season form aboard their FR 450 Rally machines throughout the six-day event.
Skyler Howes placed 10th at the 2022 ADDC, despite it marking his return to competition following an injury sustained at the Dakar that year. Now, coming from a career-best 2023 Dakar result, the likeable American is already looking to further improve on his round one performance by aiming for a win in Abu Dhabi. Fully aware of the challenge that lays ahead, Howes will be giving his all as always over the five tough stages.
Last year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge saw Luciano Benavides claim his first ever FIM World Rally-Raid stage win. Going on to secure a further three wins at this year’s Dakar, Benavides’ confidence is high as he focuses on round two success. Extremely happy with the performance of his FR 450 Rally in the dunes and with his navigation fully dialled in, Luciano is set to impress at the ADDC.
Skyler Howes: “I’m really excited for this race. I’m feeling good and my confidence is really high after my result at the Dakar. It’s my second time here at this race so it’s still relatively new for me but I’m excited to get started. During the Dakar I made a few mistakes, nothing major, so for the ADDC I’ll be focusing on not making the same mistakes again and this should make the race go even better. Every race brings new challenges and I’m sure that the next week is going to be a lot of fun.”
Luciano Benavides: “I’ve had a really great preparation for this race and I have good memories of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as I picked up a stage win here last year. I had three stage wins at the Dakar too so, the next step is to get onto an overall podium. Since the Dakar I had four or five days off but then it was straight back into training for this race and the rest of the season. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and I’m hopeful that this will show in my results next week.”