Delivering a strong third-place finish on stage three of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes signalled his return to form with an impressive display of riding and navigation on what was another tough day in the desert. Luciano Benavides was faced with the arduous task of opening most of the 255-kilometre special and would ultimately post the 11th fastest time.
Returning to form on day three of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Skyler Howes posted the third quickest time after a solid day of racing through the mixed terrain special stage. Improving with every completed stage as he continues to rebuild after his early season injury, the American now aims to bring the same speed and form into the final two stages of the rally.
Second into stage three after his impressive runner-up result yesterday, Luciano Benavides quickly moved past the leading rider to open the special. In what was a highly commendable display of navigation, while also managing to maintain a strong pace, the FR 450 Rally mounted rider was never caught by the chasing pack, leading them home while only losing a minimal amount of time. Luciano would ultimately record the 11th fastest time.
The penultimate stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge takes place tomorrow and after an encouraging day in the desert for Husqvarna Factory Racing riders today, Skyler and Luciano look forward to another positive day of racing ahead of the final stage on Thursday.
Skyler Howes: “I felt much more like myself today despite a small crash in the dunes. From the start things were much better. I got into a good rhythm early and maintained that pace all the way to the end. For most of it I was riding in a group, which was fun and overall it was just a much better day and a step in the right direction. I’m really happy after today and the goal is to carry this momentum into the final two days of the rally.”
Luciano Benavides: “Today was a long day with lots of positives. I was able to catch and pass Ross Branch at around the 50-kilometre mark, so I knew my pace was good and then I opened the stage for the rest of the day pretty much. After refuelling I was riding with Kevin (Benavides) until he crashed so I stopped to make sure he was ok and then pushed on to the finish. There was some complicated navigation in the dunes near the end but I enjoyed the challenge and reached the finish without any issues. I’m happy and looking forward to tomorrow.”
2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 3 Provisional Classification
1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:24:13
2. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 3:25:14
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:26:43
4. Toby Price (KTM) 3:28:20
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:28:22
6. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 3:28:55
11. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:38:38
2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 3]
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 11:23:47
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 11:28:11
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 11:28:15
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 11:28:36
5. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 11:29:59
6. Toby Price (KTM) 11:30:27
10. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 11:40:34
11. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 11:42:19