Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides has made an excellent start to his 2022 Rallye du Maroc campaign, posting the second-fastest time on the 557-kilometre first stage. Completing the special just over two minutes behind his teammate, Skyler Howes also impressed across the technically demanding terrain to finish in fourth place.
Covering ground fast, right from the start line and then to chase down the riders ahead, Benavides was quickest to the first checkpoint at kilometre 40. With times tight among the top five, Luciano dropped down to fourth around the midway point of the special, but was able to maintain his safe, solid pace to the finish where he ultimately placed second.
Skyler Howes' journey through the stage differed slightly to that of his teammate. The American star set off one place ahead Benavides but slowly built his pace as he progressed through the special. Choosing to focus on his navigation early on paid off for Skyler and with the terrain becoming more predictable in the latter stages of the day, the FR 450 Rally rider was able to push and make up time on those ahead. Securing a strong fourth-place result, just over three minutes down on the eventual stage winner, means that Howes has three riders to chase down on tomorrow’s day two.
Stage two of the Rallye du Maroc, from Tan-Tan to Laayoune, totals 435 kilometres with a timed special of 315 kilometres.
Luciano Benavides: “It was a really good first stage for me. I started off well, focussing on my navigation and the terrain and found I soon started to catch some of the riders in front. It was a really technical stage with many rocks and stone on the pistes, so it was tricky to keep an eye on your road book while having to look ahead and judge the terrain all the time. I think I did a good job and was able to stay consistent for the whole stage. Towards the end we were able to ride across the beach for around 20 kilometres, which was good fun. I’m really happy with my result from today, but tomorrow will be a different challenge starting near the front. I’ll give my best as always.”
Skyler Howes: “Stage one went quite well for me. I had a few tracks to follow, which made the job a little easier, but it was still quite tricky, and navigation was definitely key today. The terrain really suited me, so I felt right at home on the bike. I made a couple of smaller mistakes, and then one really big one that ended up costing me a few minutes, so it has been a bit of an up and down day, but I’m here, safe at the finish and ready to go again tomorrow.”
2022 Rallye du Maroc – Stage 1 Provisional Classification
1. Ross Branch (Hero) 3:44:56
2. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:46:05
3. Toby Price (KTM) 3:47:27
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:48:16
5. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 3:49:29
6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:50:33
2022 Rallye du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification (after stage 1)
1. Ross Branch (Hero) 4:46:24
2. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 4:48:29
3. Toby Price (KTM) 4:49:35
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 4:50:48
5. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 4:55:05
6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:55:21