Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides and Skyler Howes have both successfully reached the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge finish line after five largely positive days of racing. With Luciano securing a stage win and commendably opening three of the event’s specials, Skyler improved day-by-day with both his pace and confidence returning after his injury earlier this year. In the overall classification, Benavides would place ninth overall with Howes just 15 seconds adrift in 10th.
Facing his toughest test of the entire ADDC on the final day of racing, Luciano Benavides opened the short, 209-kilometre special following his impressive stage win yesterday. With the relatively simple and fast special offering little to separate the riders, Luciano would lose only a minimal amount of time to the leaders and complete the stage as 14th fastest. In what proved to be a considerable learning experience for Luciano in Abu Dhabi, the Argentinian embraced all the challenges that fell his way and would ultimately secure ninth overall.
With little time aboard his FR 450 Rally prior to the ADDC due to injury, the Skyler Howes used the event to race himself back into shape with a third-place finish on stage three undoubtedly the highlight of his week. Improving with each passing day, the American completed the rally with a strong sixth-place finish on stage five and despite an understandably steady start to the ADDC, Skyler would place 10th overall in the final standings.
Luciano Benavides: “I’m happy to have reached the finish line healthy and it was a challenging race for sure. I opened three of the stages, which was difficult but I embraced the challenge and learned a lot. It was a great experience opening each time that’s for sure. For the next race I need to be a little bit stronger early on so that I’m up front in the overall as once you lose time it’s so hard to make it up on the leaders. Winning yesterday’s stage was great for my confidence though and it shows that I have the speed. Overall, there has been a lot of positives that I’ll take away from here.”
Skyler Howes: “The final stage was pretty simple and straightforward, and I rode alone for all of it, which does add a little bit of difficulty. But overall, throughout the rally I’ve improved, and my confidence has returned after my crash at the Dakar. I got stronger all week and by day three I was back to feeling like my normal self out there. It’s great to be back with the team and racing again and finishing this race in one piece, so I’m happy about that and now it’s onto the next one.”
2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 5 Provisional Classification
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 2:20:57
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 2:21:31
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 2:22:08
4. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 2:24:12
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 2:24:30
6. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 2:25:22
14. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 2:30:33
2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 5]
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 16:54:24
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 16:57:32
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 16:58:20
4. Toby Price (KTM) 17:02:41
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 17:02:55
6. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 17:04:34
9. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 17:15:17
10. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 17:15:32