Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides and Skyler Howes are ready to take on the 2022 Dakar Rally, starting with stage 1A, tomorrow, January 1. The FR 450 Rally mounted pairing have successfully completed all shakedown tests and admin tasks and are both keen to get their race campaigns underway.
Luciano Benavides will be looking to make amends for his 2021 event where, after showing impressive speed on the Saudi dunes, he crashed out on stage nine. Taking much of the 2021 season to first recover from the injury he sustained, and then build his speed and confidence, the young Argentinian now has his sights set on securing his best ever Dakar result.
The 2022 event, and 44th edition of the Dakar, will be the first ridden by Skyler Howes in a factory team. Signing for Husqvarna Factory Racing early in 2021, the American star settled into his new surroundings extremely quickly, and that was reflected in his results, claiming multiple stage wins over the course of the season. Skyler finished the 2021 Dakar in fifth and as top privateer, and now with the added support of the factory Husqvarna team behind him, he’ll be gunning for the win.
Covering a total distance of over 8,000 kilometres and spanning two weeks of racing, the 2022 Dakar Rally looks set to be a true test of rider and machine. The 12 full stages will see riders set out from the bivouac in Ha’il, work their way around the east of the country ahead of the rest day in Riyadh on January 8, before looping around to the finish at Jeddah on Friday, January 14.
The first test for all competitors will be stage 1A – a long 609-kilometre transfer from Jeddah to Ha’il that includes a short 19-kilometre Prologue ridden against the clock. The top 15 finishers will then be able to choose their start position for the 333-kilometre timed special on stage 1B, when the true tough and technically demanding event really gets underway.
Luciano Benavides: “The first feeling on the bike ahead of Dakar is always really important and it was nice to complete a positive shakedown, the bike was really good. I felt smooth, I felt fast, and with good confidence on the bike, so I am really happy with this. The team have already been working very hard to get the bike prepared for the race, so things are looking good. For sure, there is a long way to go, and we never really know exactly what to expect, we just have to take it day by day.”
Skyler Howes: “With shakedown tests complete, I’m really happy with the bike. We were able to make some changes to the settings, so I think I have a really good set-up for the race. This is my first Dakar as a factory racer, so I’m really excited about that. Before, it was always a struggle just getting to the race, so this year I have had a lot more time to focus on my fitness and preparation. I’m definitely in a much better position. Looking ahead to the race, I’m aiming for the very best result possible – anything less than a win is simply not what we’re going for. As we know, the Dakar is a huge and unpredictable race – anything can happen. My plan is to give it my all and just have fun with it. Usually when I’m enjoying myself I deliver the best results. Hopefully at the end of the race I can put a Husqvarna on the top step of the podium.”