Putting the challenging opening stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally firmly behind him, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes has claimed a solid fourth-place result on the 554-kilometre stage two from Al Ha’il to Artawiyah. The FR 450 Rally rider now lies an impressive fifth overall in the provisional rally standings. Luciano Benavides fought his way back from a 38th place start to claim a solid 17th at the finish of the stage.
Starting the special stage as the 10th rider to set off, Skyler was quickly up to speed and chasing down the riders ahead of him, once again pushing hard but not taking any unnecessary risks so early on in the event. Enjoying the fast tracks and wet sandy conditions, the American was soon knocking on the door of a top-three finish, eventually bringing his FR 450 Rally home in fourth and just over six minutes behind the day’s stage winner, Sam Sunderland.
One of a number of riders to lose a considerable amount of time during yesterday’s stage one, Luciano Benavides started today’s stage two way back in 38th position. With a large number of competitors ahead of him, the Argentinian worked his way up 20 places before the day’s first checkpoint. Maintaining a strong pace, a small navigational error cost Luciano another few minutes in the latter kilometres of the special, but the young Argentinian was able to hold on to ultimately claim 17th for the day.
Skyler Howes: “The stage went well for me – I felt pretty comfortable riding on the wet sand. The dunes and the fast, sandy tracks were a lot of fun to ride, so today was really enjoyable, especially after some of the stresses of yesterday. I felt like I rode at a pretty good pace, and I’m happy with my result. It puts me in a good position for stage three, so I hope I can maximise on that. My focus is just to keep putting in solid rides, and make sure that I stay focused on the navigation. Overall, I’m really happy with how today went.”
Luciano Benavides: “Day two is done. I started quite far back and thought I would be able to use that to my advantage to make up as much time as I could on the guys in front. But with the rain making the sand really wet, following the tracks in front became very difficult as the route became quite rutted in places and it was difficult to push. I felt good with my rhythm and was still making good time, but then I made a little mistake towards the end of the stage that cost me some minutes. Overall I feel good, and the bike is great – 10 more stages to go.”
2022 Dakar Rally – Stage 2 Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:31:20
2. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 3:36:53
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:37:14
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:37:36
5. Toby Price (KTM) 3:38:20
17. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:52:41
2022 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 2)
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 8:31:29
2. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 8:34:20
3. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 8:34:58
4. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 8:35:37
5. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 8:41:28
27. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 9:34:52