Luciano Benavides takes debut Dakar Rally stage win on day six

On an extremely successful day in the Saudi desert for Husqvarna Factory Racing, Luciano Benavides posted the fastest time on Friday’s 358-kilometre timed special to earn his first ever Dakar Rally stage win. Finishing as runner-up to his teammate, Skyler Howes increased his lead in the provisional overall standings to three and a half minutes after his strong ride through today’s dunes.

After showing great pace so far at this year’s event, Luciano Benavides’ determination has paid off with a stage win at the Dakar. Setting off as the 12th rider into the special gave the Argentinian the perfect opportunity to make up time on his rivals ahead, and that’s exactly what he did.

Fourth-quickest to kilometre 31, Benavides continued to pick off the riders ahead of him on time, steadily moving up the rankings to finally overhaul teammate Howes by the finish line. The result moves Luciano one place higher in the overall standings to ninth and closes the gap to his rivals ahead.

Enjoying the stage and putting in another strong performance, Skyler Howes demonstrated why he currently sits top of the general rankings. The American skilfully navigated his way through the tracks and dunes of the stage to finish just under one minute short of the hard-charging Benavides. Increasing his lead at the top of the standings, Howes knows he can’t rest on his advantage and is ready to push once again tomorrow on the 713-kilometre first half of the event’s marathon stage.

Luciano Benavides: “I feel amazing, to take my first stage win at the Dakar means a lot to me. It’s a really special day. I knew it would be really tight today, so I pushed a lot, right from the start. Everything went well, I gave my all, and I was able to post the fastest time. It means I’m opening tomorrow’s stage but I’m looking forward to it.”

Skyler Howes: “I really enjoyed today. The stage was actually really good fun as the dunes had plenty of traction and you could jump off the top of each one. I knew with the stage being a little shorter that times would be tight, but I just approached it like every day – do my best, try to minimise any mistakes, and try to stick to a good, solid pace. The fact that I’m leading the race wasn’t really on my mind, there is still along way to go yet. It’s been a long day, with a lot of seat time due to the liaisons, but I feel good, the bike is performing great and I’m ready for the first half of the marathon stage tomorrow.”

2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 6 Provisional Classification

1. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:14:19
2. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:15:15
3. Toby Price (KTM) 3:16:39
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:16:48
5. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:17:00
6. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:17:11

2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 6]

1. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 26:31:52
2. Toby Price (KTM) 26:35:23
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 26:38:53
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 26:42:49
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 26:44:12
6. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 26:44:14

9. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 26:55:59